Help for mushroom harvesters

Monitors offer their help for matsutake mushroom harvesters near La Pine.

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With over 1,000 harvesters – many of whom speak little English – working in the woods near La Pine for the annual matsutake mushroom season, monitors with the Alliance of Forest Workers and Harvesters are helping workers with advice and translation services.

Dispensing tent-building advice is just one of the many jobs Vern Oden and Enrique Santos tackle as monitors at the Crescent matsutake mushroom camp. Oden, Santos and a third monitor share hints with harvesters about where to go pick and how to pop the mushrooms out of the ground. They help fix generators and listen to concerns about other harvesters’ bad picking techniques. They act as a go-between with the U.S. Forest Service, which manages most of the mushroom patches, and take harvester concerns about logging projects and off-highway vehicle trails to the federal agency.

“If they need help, I’ll help them,” said Oden, a 59-year-old Marine Corps veteran who has been harvesting matsutakes for decades. “They come to me with all their problems.”

Read the full story at The Bulletin.

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