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Feds back B.C. wild mushroom processing

A drying system typically used in blueberry processing will be adapted to dry wild chanterelle mushrooms harvested in British Columbia’s Queen Charlotte Islands.

John Duncan, a Vancouver Island MP and parliamentary secretary for Indian affairs, on Thursday announced $22,605 for the Haida Gwaii Local Foods Processing Co-operative to adapt and modify a vacuum microwave dehydration (VMD) system.

Once operating, the VMD system is expected to produce enough dried mushrooms to ensure reliable supply for domestic and overseas buyers.

“Changes to the existing technology will result in a more consistent end-product, and ensure that it can produce sufficient volume and quality of product to support a commercial enterprise,” the government said in its release.

The Haida Gwaii co-op has 38 members, all residents of Haida Gwaii, who harvest and sell chanterelle mushrooms to the co-operative. Plus, as many as 200 people come to Haida Gwaii each year to participate in the chanterelle mushroom harvest, the government said.

The co-op has “demonstrated market potential” for wild chanterelles, especially in the European market, the government said.

Once the VMD is producing sufficient quantities, the co-operative will develop a market plan and also look to apply the technology to new products. The co-operative would be able to share its experience of adaptation of existing technology with other small-scale, “non-commodity specific” and rural operations, the government said.

The co-op’s drying facility will employ four to six people once it’s in production, the government said.

Funding for this project will flow through Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada’s Advancing Canadian Agriculture and Agri-Food (ACAAF) program and be delivered by the Investment Agriculture Foundation (IAF) of B.C., the government said.

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