Oyster and King incorporated in the fall season of 2016 and is responsible for direct sale and delivery of all specialty organic mushrooms from Coast Mushroomtech. Our service has expanded to include other neighbouring producers from the Langley and Cloverdale area as wild produce from local foragers.
Our particular distribution model came from a need to develop a relationship with restaurants and buyers in the city. We have experience of dealers who breached contracts and agreements whenever it was in their interest to do so, knowing that legal recourse is impractical and costly. Prices in our experience are un-negotiable and piles of produce are often were returned after days past and left to spoil whenever a dealer’s own plans went awry or when they themselves were undercut by aggressive competitors. This is not how we want to see the world after long days and nights and it has no place in how we do business!
This recent year has showed us that people in the city are receptive to forming relationships with producers and farms, that chefs in particular are enthusiastic about local food and seek a deeper knowledge of their supply chain. Many chefs have never seen the quality of produce that a direct distribution model can offer. While our mushrooms are our main business and our intent is to manage and sell the entire output of our farm locally, We also intend to include and enable other local producers and foragers who share our values to take advantage of our model, by distributing and promoting them and their produce throughout our network.
On Wild Produce
For a long time, both migrant and native BC pickers have come into the interior looking for seasonal employment in British Columbia doing something they are passionate and knowledgeable about. The uncertainty and recent collapse in prices for pickers has deprived many of a stable source of income. Aggregation of produce from a variety of regions and pickers prevents end users from knowing where and who their produce came from and how it was collected, dissolving accountability. This is a path toward both unsustainable harvesting methods and a disregard for produce quality (bulk instead of selective harvesting). We feel we can change this by designing a transparent supply chain that can compete at the level of large commercial outfits while upholding our values.
Our pickers who work in particular locales in BC and their surrounding areas will be able to return to that region every year. Enabling them to vet their peers whom we choose to work with will ensure that our picking in that region can be a sustainable annual practice. There is beauty of magnitude in many of the places that our pickers frequent. The passion for this lifestyle and rewarding work are what draw many of our pickers to it every year, sustaining a labour of love that lasts a lifetime.
We are working towards a direct distribution model for wild produce, similar to existing ventures in sustainable fishing and ocean industries. We will not replicate the existing practice where both the labour and the produce of wildcrafted goods are commodified to their present degree. This means:
Pickers will share responsibilities through the supply chain and interact with chefs and other customers to ensure guarantee of quality produce and a direct line of sight to the environmental impact of consumption. (Chefs know who and where they got it from)
Our produce will focus on fungi fruit which have a negligible difference to proliferation of spores and impact on habitat as well as other sustainable produce until we can establish a stringent standard for popular wild greens.
We will study the industry and continuously make improvements in all areas.
We are looking for people that are in this for the long term, and have assembled a group of like-minded, passionate people who believe in cooperation and do not believe in short term gain at the expense of others and the environment.
We don't need to expand without addressing these concerns we've outlined above. We have heard this from many of our chefs whom themselves own and operate independent small businesses; It's okay to stay small and we are comfortable where we are. Our goal is to continue building a modest service for seasonal local wildcrafted produce from the work of a few select pickers for the lower mainland with no intention to expand or export to other provinces or to the United States.
OYSTER & KING foraged produce
Albert Andrews (Dano)