Occupation: professional picker

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Profession: professional harvester

The profession of professional picker involves going to the discovery of what nature has to offer (archives).

Collecting and sharing what nature has to offer. This is the goal of Stéphane Bouchard, a professional picker who has made a living from this profession for four years, in Kamouraska.

You have to know the habitats to know where you can find your product. We pick edible and medicinal plants, we can also find fruits, berries, strawberries and wild blueberries. The forest is full of food, he says.

Stéphane Bouchard picks some 40 species of plants and fruits in the woods, including Labrador tea, St. John's wort and fir. So many plants that can be cooked, distilled, infused or dried and then consumed.

Stéphane Bouchard has been living as a picker for four years.

I have been in the forest all the time for 30 years. […] At one point I knew some [Indigenous people] I saw them making their mixes, their recipes, it intrigued me, they treated themselves with it and they ate with it. They called it "the pharmacy of the good Lord" and I started to take an interest in that, he says.

He regrets that this knowledge has been partly lost over time, and hopes that the population will reclaims it.

“We go to the grocery store, everything is easy. [We have to] take the time to get our stuff in the forest, and then cook and prepare it the way we want. Give yourself the right to enjoy nature, we have forgotten that a bit. »

— Stéphane Bouchard, professional picker

Mr. Bouchard himself wants to pass on his knowledge and train other pickers. Two young women are currently following in his footsteps. Julia Roy, who is currently training in naturopathy is one of them. She is particularly interested in the medicinal power of plants.

Stéphane Bouchard passes on his knowledge to two apprentices.

These are medicinal plants that are very powerful in terms of being anti- inflammatory, both at the level of the skin and when you take it internally, so my goal is to transform that to make products, medicines, she explains.

For market gardener Marie-Aimée Pearce, this training allows her to deepen her knowledge of plants, such as spruce.

I didn't know when to harvest it, I didn't know how to harvest it, at what stage, how to dry it, how to process it, she says.

“This is wonderful expertise that I would have taken years to achieve on my own.

— Marie-Andrée Pearce

What's more, the two budding pickers also learn how to respect the resource and how to take only the amount they need.

Marie-Aimée Pearce and Julia Roy

Natives had this approach it and I find that's the only way to do it well that it's actually sustainable, says Pearce.

According to a report by Fabienne Tercaefs

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