Laughing Lichen introduces northern Canada wildcraft products to overseas markets
Born and raised in Canada’s North, Amy Maund demonstrated an early fascination with plants and wildlife.
“We used to go out on what we called the big lake, Great Slave Lake, for a fishing trip every summer,” recalls Maund.
“And with my mother, we would forage in the wilderness. I would harvest plants, press them and print out their Latin names. I have always loved plants and animals.”
So it is no surprise that, these days, she can be found with her toddler daughter deep in the wilds of the Northwest Territories or northern British Columbia harvesting herbs, berries, lichen and fungi for wildcraft products.
Maund established her company, Laughing Lichen, in 2011 to create products such as soaps, salves and seasonings in an ecological way. All aspects of the business are sustainable, from ethical harvesting to manufacturing all of her products off the grid by using solar energy. Laughing Lichen harvests more than 50 different species of wild herbs, berries, lichens and fungi for their products.
“It’s my passion,” says Maund.
“The plants are wild and native, not farmed, not near highways, not sprayed, not genetically modified. Wildcrafting in the North is a beautiful way of life, to harvest and forage with your family and friends, enjoy nature sustainably and responsibly and then come back and manufacture products infused with wild harvests.”
The company’s products include Wild Labrador Tea, also known as Trappers Tea or Hudson’s Bay Tea, made from a small aromatic shrub that grows in boggy and wet areas. Spruce pitch is used for its anti-fungal, analgesic and anti-microbial qualities.
And not to fear: Bear Poop Soap does not contain those actual ingredients!
“It’s a bit of a joke product, but it’s educational,” says Maund.
“The back of the Bear Poop Soap box refers to seed dispersal: how bears eating berries and going to the bathroom in the woods creates new berry patches.” The soap is infused with wild chaga mushrooms and cranberries.
Not only does Laughing Lichen promote sustainability and education, it also shows how businesses located in Canada’s isolated economic regions can become exporters to the world with the right product.
“Last season we trained 17 people as wildcrafters and foragers,” says Maund.
“We want to be able to support a lifestyle in the North where you can go out harvesting, earn a meaningful wage and continue to live remotely.”
Wholesale products from Laughing Lichen are already selling well in Asia, Ireland and Germany. Online sales also reach Japan, South Korea, China and Australia.
Maund is excited to see the possibilities that come from Canada’s trade deals with the Asia-Pacific region (CPTPP) and the European Union (CETA). Exporting further will allow her business to support more people in wildcrafting.
“We are building a new solar-powered facility on a 12-acre parcel of land 40 minutes northeast of Yellowknife,” says Maund.
“We will be able to employ more people and harvest a larger volume.”
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