Mushrooms Wild & Cultivated

Stropharia rugosa-annulata

Friends and fellow mushroom enthusiasts Steve Gabriel and Ari-Rockland Miller are teaming up to offer two upcoming classes in Vermont to explore the best practices and future potential for both mushroom cultivation as well as wild foraging.

Mushrooms are truly a remarkable organism. A member of the fungal kingdom, they are more closely related to animals then plants; they breathe oxygen and expire CO2, just like us! They are key components in soil and forest health; some provide primary decomposition, breaking the tough bonds in woody materials to make them available for other soil organisms, while others bond in a symbiotic relationship with plants to capture and cycle nutrients and water. Mushrooms have been shown to also be powerful healers, ranging from breaking down hydrocarbons in oil spills (oyster) to inhibiting the growth of cancer cells (shiitake, lions mane).

Nearly all cultivated mushrooms are saprophytic, meaning they decompose woody organic matter and in turn build soil fertility while producing fruiting bodies for reproduction. Saprophytes are the planet’s great recyclers, turning dead plants into nutrients available to living plants and animals. These saprophytes vary in their pickiness around food source – some, like shiitake, favor specific hardwood tree species, while others, like the oyster, are generalist decomposers that will eat just about whatever you put on their plate.

Oysters seem equally happy feasting on sawdust, straw, toilet paper, coffee grounds, or petrochemicals (making them prime candidates for mycoremediation, as demonstrated by mycologist Paul Stamets). Shiitake is easy to cultivate but does not grow wild in this region, while other saprophytes like the king stropharia can be cultivated as well as foraged in North America. In the workshop, participants will learn how to clone native king stropharias to harness the wild and bring it into the garden.

Many of the most gourmet wild mushrooms are mycorrhizal fungi that are extremely difficult to impossible to cultivate. Mycorrhizal mushrooms like the porcini, chanterelle, and matsutake are revered for their flavor and coveted for their wild, unpredictable fruiting habits. These fungi form complex symbiotic relationships with plant roots that benefit both parties. Rather than drive ourselves crazy trying to cultivate such finicky fungi, we will learn how to find and ID them in the wild!

Steve Gabriel has been growing shiitake and other mushrooms for six years. He educates landowners, farmers, and gardeners though his work at Cornell Garden-Based Learning and through the Finger Lakes Permaculture Institute. He currently operates a 1,000 log shiitake operation and is co-authoring a book on the practices of Forest Farming.

Ari Rockland-Miller, co-founder of The Mushroom Forager, is an ardent mycophile who enjoys nothing more than the exhilarating feeling of the mushroom hunt. Over the past few years he has found hundreds of pounds of gourmet and medicinal wild mushrooms, and he loves sharing his knowledge with blog readers and workshop participants.  Ari became an expert in shiitake cultivation after managing Cornell University’s Mushroom Research Project and the MacDaniels Nut Grove, Cornell’s forest farming demonstration site.

“Mushrooms Wild & Cultivated” will be held June 2nd at Shelburne Farms (Shelburne, VT) and June 3rd at Twin Pond Retreat (Brookfield, VT) . For $65 students take home an inoculated shiitake log and oyster substrate. Participants should plan on bringing their own lunch.

Shelburne Farms
Shelburne, VT
June 2 from 9:00am - 4:00pm
$65 includes one inoculated mushroom log
TO REGISTER CALL 802-985-8686

Twin Pond Retreat
Brookfield, VT
June 3 from 9:00am - 4:00pm 
$65 includes one inoculated mushroom log
TO REGISTER Email name, email, and phone number to steve@agroforestrysolutions.com or call 607.342.2825