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Foraging for Cash

 
Posts: 1
Location: Vashon Island, WA
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I am about to undertake the new project of responsibly foraging herbs/foods and growing micro-greens to generate income.
I have the benefit of living on a wonderful island of abundance, right next to a large city- my goal is to find good market prices for direct restaurant sales by getting this conversation going, and helping others get on track if they want to take this wonderful route of bringing in monies.

I will be foraging stinging nettle, ramps, mushrooms, and more things as the season changing, and my focus will be on spicy micro-greens.
In the Pacific Northwest, it is my surprise, that I have heard you do not need a permit or license to forage and sell if it is your own land- but it differs with parks and recreational areas.
I am still trying to work out pricing- as far as I have come up with nettle gets around $9/#, ramps $16/#, fiddleheads $18/# - any suggestions welcome.
I am under the impression that sometimes restaurants will offer a going rate they already pay to others that may distribute to them, as well...?

Do you need a permit or license where you are? How much are the going rates and for what? What are things do you go after?

Mags
 
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Most cities will require a business license or permit in order for you to sell to restaurants.

Most likely the restaurants will not buy from you unless you have a tax id number and the license or permit.

I would ask a restaurant what they require.
 
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As Anne said, you will almost certainly need a business license from the city/county/state to be able to legally sell anything. Where I live that is all you need to sell plants and plant products (there are additional steps for meat, dairy, and many other value added products - check out local cottage food laws for exceptions). In my limited experience selling direct to restaurants and small gorceries they were either excited, willing, and easy to work with or pretty closed off to the idea of small suppliers. I would approach restaurants before their open hours, while they are prepping and if they are into stuff like that you can talk to whoever does the purchasing. They will either tell you what they can get your item for right now, or ask you how much you want if they aren't super familiar with it. We did all of our pricing by window shopping area markets and trying to price accordingly.
I would definitely recommend talking to potential customers asap because the products you are talking about are perishable and you will be better served by going out to harvest existing orders than trying to hustle around after the plants are chopped.
Dried foraged herbs that can be used for teas are another area I've seen people have success commercially, and I think you could even sell them online to widen your market.
Super cool idea, let us know how it all goes.
 
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Location: Missouri Ozarks
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As far as I know, we don't have to have a business or tax ID number in order to sell to restaurants--that, or they don't ask and/or assume we have one.  I do know that it is illegal to sell foraged products taken from Missouri public land, though using them for personal consumption is fine.

We harvest and sell wild gooseberries from our woodlot.  In the past we have sold various greens (mostly lambsquarters).  We'll be trying wild blackberries this summer, too.

I'd love to forage for mushrooms, but the state requires that one not only have a permit, but that one have a permit for each different kind of mushroom, which is a total nonstarter unless you already have a honey hole of enough varieties to make it worth it.
 
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