Thursday, March 15, 2012

Cannery Dreams in Weitchpec

Posted By on Thu, Mar 15, 2012 at 10:35 AM

click to enlarge usgs-weitchpec-topo.jpg

A Yurok family plans to build a cannery in Weitchpec, near the confluence of the Klamath and Trinity rivers, and has been accepting pledges at Kickstarter to get the venture going.

Tom and Morneen Willson, who own Spey-gee Point Resort and Guide Services, co-founded The Source Food Company late last year with Billee Willson, who works in human services for Sacramento County. Their intent, according to their Kickstarter page, is to try to restore their community -- stuck in a depression of high unemployment -- to a semblence of the bountiful days their great grandparents enjoyed, when Weitchpec was "the center of commerce ... rich in resources both in the river and on the mountains."

"Food was so plentiful that our people had time to create objects of beauty and utility. The Yurok women are known for their fine basketry; a craft developed in this rich land and made entirely of the resources available here."

The Willsons will build the cannery and let community members process their own harvests there -- salmon and berries and possibly more. The Willsons hope to create a gourmet market for their own hand-crafted salmon goodies -- canned, smoked, jerked.

"We recognize our food supply is becoming fragile and living in such a remote location, the cost is high and the supply could be cut off easily. While this cannery will be individually owned, the cannery becomes the first step in helping the community meet their nutritional needs locally and creating additional income through surplus sales.

The cannery is only one aspect of the food security vision for this community. Our vision is to see our friends and family take initiative to build herds and flocks, to garden and grow crops, to fish and to gather."

They're working on FDA approval now, and are asking for donations to help them pay regulatory fees, buy equipment including freezers and flash-freezers and smoke house, set up the cannery and conduct food safety training. They hope to open the operation this summer.

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Heidi Walters

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Heidi Walters has been a staff writer with the North Coast Journal since 2005.

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