"What about the wildlife? If we forage for acorns, won't the wildlife suffer?"
Why does it always seem that there is a conflict of interests between man and nature? We have been lead to believe that one must get their needs met at the expense of the other.
The Acornucopia Project begs to differ.
1.) In the beginning most of the foraging that will happen for the project will be in private yards, parks, farm fields and other man made environments. It is much more efficient to gather nuts in manicured areas like mowed grass or bare ground. We highly recommend people using a simple yard rake and a 5 gallon bucket to gather nuts, but it doesnt work in brush and leaves where "wild"life does live, and has adapted means to harvest in those more natural settings. Chances are, few of our foragers will bother those places which will still consist of 99% of the oak trees out there.
2.) This project will be most economical for people when it is a "mast year". Oaks are considered a mast crop and they don't bear evenly from year to year in the same place. Most often they have a heavy acorn year and then rest for a year or two, sometimes not producing a crop at all. When mast does hit, that's when it is economical and there is more than enough to go around. Foragers will follow the areas of heavy mast.
3.) Eastern grey squirrel is categorized as one of the top 100 invasive species in the world aggressively dominating over other native species of squirrel. They are the predominant squirrel in urban areas. Deer have a higher population than they did when Europeans first arrived and bears are fast becoming formidable pests as they adapt to human habitat and people don't hunt them. Ironically, my small, local feedstore in WV sells 20 tons of corn that hunter's spread in the woods in the Fall to attract the "Big Buck", but that is for another discussion.
3.) The most important point I would like to say is that the long game for the Acornucopia project is to plant out orchards of diverse native nut tree orchards, intelligently hybridize the best of the two worlds. We want to bring together wildlife and manlife in a way that serves both. The first step for the project will rely on foraged nut crops from anybody. This will give us a chance to work on making processing more efficient, create new market as people get a taste for the new flavors of nuts and appreciate their nutrative benefits, have our foragers keep an eye open and collect the best genetics from "the wild", From those genetics we will trial, hybridize, and select the best varieties that suit our present needs. With a market developed we can then show farmers that it economically viable to incorporate more native trees into their farscape, We will then have the effortless food production of appropriate species of native trees, set in orchards of rows that are harvestable by machine on a mass (mast) scale.
"Any man who tries to defeat nature is likely to find himself much occupied with the task"
- R.T. Morris Nut Growing 1920
Lastly on a personal note, the North American paddle fish is an ancient fish native to the Mississippi basin.The Chinese species is already extinct at the hands of man and ours is endangered. As a child of the Midwest, this fish fascinated me more than any others with its huge gaping mouth. It has survived millions of years of environmental changes up to this point. The major contributor to its current demise is the alteration of its spawning grounds by sedimentation due to soil erosion in the Midwest from annual industrial agriculture. It is just one of 1000's of native species that are devastated by the practices of planting 90,000,000 acres of corn a year. Industrial agriculture is the seconds largest contributor of greenhouse gases and the environmental stresses from global climate shift will wreak an untold amount of havoc on all species of our shrinking planet.
Every dollar spent on native nut tree derived commodity food like hickory oil and acorn flour is one dollar less spent on the wildlife habitat destruction incurred by industrial agriculture. Where we put our intentions, is the world we create. Where we put our resources ($dollars$), is the only vote that has influence in this culture we have created. If we can begin to supplement our diets with healthy nutritious food derived from native perennial tree crops, we begin to reshape our health, the environment, as well as our future. Why buy cheap commodity food and then to compensate for the external costs of its production by giving money to environmental organizations, doctors, and pharmaceutical companies? Let's put it in the right place to start with! A healthy environment is the main ingredient in all the Acornucopia products. The beauty of it is that the divide between wildlife and manlife can merge in a mutually symbiotic arrangement.