Posts tagged ‘NTFP’

NTFP Highlight: Blueberries!

By Julie Miedtke

Blueberry Basics:

In Minnesota, native blueberries thrive on acidic soils (pH 4.0 to 5.0) that are low in fertility.    Blueberries are frequently found on burned-over areas from recent wildfires, areas that have been logged or sites with ledge rock or rock outcrops.  Blueberries can also be found growing along the edge of bogs.

Wild blueberry plants are readily established from seed.  As they grow, plants send out underground stems, or rhizomes, that grow on top of the ground.  Roots develop along the rhizome and produce new stems/plants. By the end of the first year, buds are formed and over winter on the plant.   The second year is dedicated to berry production.

Full sun is an essential requirement for berry production.  Plants will tolerate some shade, but overtopping vegetation limits blossoms and fruit production.

Lessons in Integrated Management:

Wild blueberries and Woodlands

An excellent example of integrating blueberry production into woodland management comes from experienced foresters.   In northern Itasca County,  a stand of mature jack pine was harvested in 1978.   The landing area, about 1.5 acres in size was designated as a permanent wildlife opening.  A year later during a field inspection, the forester noticed blueberry plants that had naturally seeded into the site—a definite benefit to wildlife.  The decision was made to manage the wildlife opening for berry production.

The site has been periodically mowed to the height of about 12 inches in 1980’s and 1995.  Overtime, willow and hazel began to encroach into the site, overtopping the blueberry plants, and vegetation treatments have been timed to not interfere with harvesting.   The managing forester is quick to note that this blueberry site is a gem and protected by silence by local families who return each year to harvest berries.

Blueberry Meadows

Lucille Lauer graduated from the University of Minnesota with a degree in horticulture in the 1980s.  While on campus, Lucille was able to have direct conversations with hort researchers Dr. David Wildung and Dr. Jim Luby while they were developing new cultivated varieties of blueberry plants.  Lucille was excited about the idea and looked for an opportunity to put her knowledge and skills into practice.  After college, Lucille’s family returned to Grand Rapids living on eighty acres of land.   Working with her family, Lucille developed and planted four to blueberries, and has established a thriving ‘u-pick’ business called Blueberry Meadows.  The business was started on a shoestring and has provided gainful employment for extended family and neighbors.  For Lucille, Blueberry Meadows is really about quality of life with no traffic or commute, healthy outdoor work and interactions with friends, family and neighbors who come and pick berries!

The most recent patch was established in 2006, planting two acres with Chippewa and North Blue varieties.  The meadow was fenced to keep deer from depredating the site that was cost-shared through DNR.  During the spring of 2010, Lucille obtained funding through the Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) and installed a 30x 72 foot high tunnel was installed over a few rows of blueberry plants.  The high tunnel will benefit the plants during cold, wet springtime weather AND to give her business an edge by producing berries earlier.

For more information:

Commercial Production in MN and WI

For home landscapes

University of Maine’s Wild Blueberry Page

13Moons

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July 6, 2010 at 10:54 am Leave a comment

Traditional approaches and the future of Minnesota’s forests: The Thirteen Moons project

By David Wilsey
University of Minnesota Extension, Cloquet

What future for the forested landscapes of our region? We inhabit a region known for abundant forest resources, a region situated within a state nationally known for its forests. It is a special place and our people have special connections with our surroundings. Meanwhile, families grow, children move away and back, communities change in size and composition, the economy cycles, and the climate influences our habitat. We know these things and thus recognize that our future landscape could take many forms, and for these reasons we continuously revisit the question of how people connect with natural resources and the forested landscape?

There is no single answer to this question. Economic benefits of the wood and paper industries are felt directly and indirectly throughout the region. Forested landscapes also offer recreational opportunities and contribute to our vital tourism industry. Many of us work in these industries. We know families that generate seasonal income or other benefits from non-timber forest resources, such as maple syrup and balsam boughs. Forests provide habitat for many animals that feed our families, such as deer, bear, and moose.

Forests contribute to our individual and collective identity and to our individual and common culture. We are northern Minnesotans: independent and resourceful. We are loggers, mill workers, trappers, hunters, harvesters, jam-makers. We have fun making a few bucks in the woods even if we don’t really, once we run the numbers.

There is no certain future for our region’s forested landscapes but we have a hunch that understanding people connections to natural resources and the forested landscape will help us to ensure that future resources align with our collective needs and wants. To learn more about these connections Extension is making a concerted effort to learn about the full array of forest resources, both timber and non-timber, used and appreciated by people within and around the region. The Thirteen Moons program is one example of this effort.

Thirteen Moons addresses an identified need to fortify connections between Fond du Lac (FDL) community members and traditional natural resources. This program emerged from a 2008 listening session and needs assessment that focused on Band members’ perspectives on natural resources and their use. The traditional Ojibwe calendar year follows the 13-moon lunar cycle. Each moon is named for a natural phenomenon – the activity of a seasonally active animal, an important cultural practice or belief, or a prevalent environmental condition. Thirteen Moons taps into this cycle, providing educational content relevant to the community’s interests through partnerships with knowledgeable community members.

There are two components to the program. The first component is a monthly feature in the Fond du Lac tribal newspaper running under the Thirteen Moons banner. Each feature centers thematically on the month’s moon and contains educational content related to culture, ecology, and management. The second component is a thirteen-workshop series, each workshop based upon the corresponding Ojibwe moon and offered as closely as possible to its cycle. The workshops both feature and target FDL community members. Upcoming workshop announcements and highlights can be found at http://madeintheshade.ning.com

September 4, 2009 at 11:12 am Leave a comment

Goods from the Woods UpNorth Marketplace & Green Living Celebration

[Passing along an announcement from the folks organizing this great annual event:]

Scores of incredible artisans will offer one-of-a-kind products made from the bounty of Minnesota’s northern forests

What
The seventh annual Goods from the Woods marketplace and celebration, featuring 70 high-quality regional artists and craftspersons offering unique, handcrafted items produced from the bounty of our northern forests.

Who

When
Saturday, September 19, 2009.
Goods from the Woods: From 9:00am to 6:00pm.
Northwoods Dinner: At 7:00pm.

Where
Ruttger’s Sugar Lake Lodge, Grand Rapids, Minnesota.
Shuttle bus service will run hourly from Grand Rapids to Goods from the Woods with stops at Central School (highways 2 and 169) on the hour, Shops of Distinction, L&M Fleet Supply, Timberlake Lodge & Hotel, and Sawmill Inn.

Visuals
Outstanding craftsmanship will be on display throughout the event.  Some examples include Bent Willow Furniture, Walter Grittner’s “chip carved” boxes, Nature & Judi Carlson’s flower-pounded pillows and home decor, Andrew Kringen Designs’ original design wood inlay cutting boards and other items, and Timber Farm Canoes. Many of the artists and craftspeople will be doing live demonstrations of their work.

Why
The purpose of Goods from the Woods and the related programs of the Minnesota Wood Education Project is to increase the awareness of the value of sustainable management of our forests and improve the economies of our Minnesota forests communities. The organization is a non-profit, 501(c)(3) tax exempt group.

Link to Full Media Release
www.TrueNorthWoods.com/news

For additional information visit www.GoodsFromTheWoods.org

July 30, 2009 at 5:06 am Leave a comment

Birch Bark Canoe Workshop

Testing bark qualityHave you ever seen a birch bark canoe being built? Check out the upcoming Language Immersion & Canoe (Jiimaan) Building Project being held from 08 – 28 June at the Fond du Lac Reservation Cultural Museum. A team of master bark canoe builders and Ojibwe language experts will guide 8 students through the harvest of materials and creation of a birch bark canoe, a process that takes around 3 weeks. The daily workshops are open to the public and those interested can attend for as little or as much time as desired. The FDL Cultural Museum is located at the intersection of Big Lake Road and University Road off of Hwy 33 in Cloquet. Canoe building activities will occur outside under the wigwam. For information contact the Museum at 218.878.7582.

Framing the Canoe

June 4, 2009 at 11:42 am Leave a comment

Saps and Syrups in Minnesota

Maple Syrup

It’s time to start tapping the sugarbush when we start to have warm days (above freezing) paired with cold nights (below freezing). Tapping Maple trees (Acer spp.) is a great spring activity for individuals, families, and friends. The ratio of sap to syrup is determined by the rule of 86 (86 / % sugar in the sap), and is roughly 45:1. Small producers, those with only a few trees, can freeze sap until sufficient quantity has been collected for processing. Maple sap is most often processed by reducing the sap to syrup through boiling or, more recently, through reverse osmosis. The resulting Maple Syrup can be consumed, traded, or sold. In some cultures, the sap is consumed without processing as a medicinal tonic. Putting a new twist on the old, Wind Tree Winery in Cloquet, MN produces a Maple Syrup wine. Demand has exceeded supply in the last few years and prices look to be great this year.

MapleSyrupManual

Each year, University of MN Extension offers Maple Syrup Clinics in different locations throughout the state. For those unable to attend, Extension has produced several publications on Maple Syrup and there is a MN DNR video on the process. There is also the MN Maple Syrup Producers Association. Ohio State Extension’s Maple Syrup Producers’ Manual (see image below) is a comprehensive resource for producers.

Birch Syrup

When spring peepers hail the end of the Maple Syrup season, a few hardy producers switch gears and collect birch sap. Tapping birch trees is much like tapping maple, but the similarity ends there. While maple sap contains sucrose, the natural sugar in birch sap is fructose.  Birch sap, collected from Paper birch (Betula paperifyera) also contains several vitamins and minerals including vitamin C, potassium, manganese, and calcium. Native American Indians have long known of its medicinal benefits and there are many cultures that bottle the sap for a health drink. Alaska has several major producers that create a variety of birch products. On average, 100 gallons of birch sap are needed to make a gallon of birch syrup.The sap is processed differently, with boiling techniques that evaporate water and avoid burning the fructose.

Connoisseurs also tap yellow birch (B. alleghaniensis) in early spring, before the leaves unfurl.  While yellow birch bark is a known source for ‘Wintergreen Oil” the sap is sweet with a slight wintergreen taste that is boiled to create syrups and flavor beer and wine.  Yellow birch sap is known to have a sweet flavor, with very low sugar content. Stay tuned for a forthcoming post about our yellow birch tapping trial!

For more information on NTFPs:

March 20, 2009 at 12:01 am 3 comments

Drinking Maple

“One person’s trash is another person’s treasure” takes on a new meaning when applied to Minnesota’s abundant forest resources and diverse cultural traditions. When discussing Non Timber Forest Products (NTFPs) with landowners and forest resource users, I like to pose the question: “Do you really know what’s in your woods?” While this is not a case of trash versus treasure, it certainly puts a new twist on a familiar NTFP, Maple Syrup. In South Korea the maple tree is called Gorosoe.  This article from the New York Time’s International Herald Tribune details the South Korean custom of drinking Maple Sap (not syrup) to cleanse the body. Thirst is kept up with salty fish and snacks…I think we could manage that here! The sap sells for $6-7 per gallon!! Sounds like a sweet deal, pun intended, when you consider the fact that it takes roughly 45 gallons of sap to make 1 gallon of Maple Syrup. (Maple Leaf photo, Jurveston, CC 2.0) maplestructure1

For more information on nontimber forest products (NTFPs):


March 9, 2009 at 11:31 am 2 comments

Nontimber Forest Products: Character wood

Long winter months offer prime time opportunities for exploring forests.

Frozen soil conditions allow access to some of the more intriguing, ‘off the beaten path’ places in the woods. It’s a great time to visit bogs & swamps, swales, and islands that may seem out of reach during much of the year. Winter excursions can be memorable and invigorating, but most of all it will inspire greater appreciation of forests.

Continue Reading February 9, 2009 at 2:00 pm 4 comments

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News and information of interest to Minnesota woodland owners. Sister site to MyMinnesotaWoods.org.

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