WORKSHOPS: Foraging for Wild Mushrooms, Medicinal Mushrooms, Medicinal and Visionary Plants, and Lactic Fermentations

Contact for details on guest appearances at your events.

Sierra Trading Post

Bio: Eatmore Toadstools

Eatmore Toadstools, which as you may have guessed is not his real name, has been studying, picking, and eating wild edible mushrooms and plants for over 30 years. With 30 years of gardening experience, he has more recently taken up the cultivation of medicinal and visionary plants. He was president of the Mycological Association of Washington in 2003, was its newsletter editor for a number of years and is currently a member of the North American Mycological Association and the Western Pennsylvania Mushroom Club. Eatmore has also taught adult education courses in mushroom foraging at Chautauqua Institution and Arlington County, VA Adult Education, and presented mushroom and plant workshops at a number of festivals and events. He has a PhD in public policy from George Mason University, and in real life is an economic policy consultant.

75 minute mushroom PowerPoint presentation. This presentation can stand alone or be included in the longer workshop. My own photos, recipes, folklore, and such are all included. This is not your business meeting presentation… I’m very entertaining if I do say so myself, and I don’t have a script.

Workshop Description for a 2-3 hour workshop on wild mushrooms. This generally includes a 60-75 minute presentation and a 60-75 minute field trip, depending upon the venue. Due to safety concerns, attending the presentation is a prerequisite for the field trip.

Foraging for wild mushrooms is safer than people might think if a few basic rules are followed. The first rule is that one should never eat a mushroom that you cannot positively identify. Always learn to identify mushrooms from people who have experience. Never attempt to identify a mushroom for the table from a field guide or photos until you have accumulated enough experience on your own to do so. Understand that there are 1000's of mushroom species and even experienced mycologists cannot identify them all.

Edible, poisonous and medicinal mushrooms will be discussed. It will be emphasized that only knowledge and positive identification is a barrier to poisoning, but many people have learned to pick their own mushrooms with little risk. I will talk about field guides, mycology websites, mushroom clubs and associations, mushroom habitat, and show items that are necessary for a successful mushroom foraging trip. I will tell the audience how to prepare positively identified edibles for immediate consumption or preservation. My theory on why some cultures readily seek out wild mushrooms, while others suffer from what is known as "mycophobia," will be presented.

This workshop will include a field trip where mushrooms will be collected and identified if temperature and moisture conditions allow. However, there is no guarantee that mushrooms will be found, and while I know hundreds of species, there is no guarantee that I will be able to identify everything we might find. Those who have no prior knowledge of mushrooming are especially welcome, but this event will not make them instant experts in picking mushrooms for consumption.

75 minute workshop on medicinal mushrooms

Mushrooms have been used in Asia for medicinal purposes for a very long time. While most of the mushrooms to be discussed are traditionally cultivated in Asia rather than harvested in the wild, some of the same or similar species may be found in the wild in the US. Others may be purchased as "food supplements" or as spawn or kits for home cultivation.

This workshop will cover 20-30 mushrooms that are of known medicinal value, provide descriptions of each, discuss the available medical literature as well as the general field guides and websites, the marketers of the mushrooms (including those marketing mushroom spawn for people to grow their own) and the variations in quality of those sold specifically as food supplements. It may also include a short field trip on the grounds if it is likely that any of these varieties could be found in the immediate area. This will depend on temperature, rainfall, etc.

While the subject is medicinal mushrooms, I will refer attendees to the available literature for more information pertaining actual medical benefits of particular mushrooms. While I can discuss medical use in general, I am not a qualifiedhealth expert.

75 minute workshop on growing medicinal and visionary plants

There are a large number of plants that have been used for dreams, visions, relaxation, healing and altered states for a very long time in different parts of the world. The US is somewhat schizophrenic about such plants. Some are sold in herbal form with little restriction. Some are refined, put in pill or liquid extraction form and are sold with few restrictions as long as they pass muster as "herbal supplements" in markets where caveat emptor rules. While some of the better known plants and refined substances that have been used for what prohibitionists would probably call non-medicinal purposes are on the US Drug Enforcement Agency's Schedule I, there are many others that may legally be possessed and cultivated (although in some cases one should seek legal guidance on the consumption and/or refining of such plants). There are online merchants who sell many of these plants and seeds, as do some seed companies in the US and Canada that also sell flower and vegetable seeds. This workshop covers only those plants that are legal to grow and possess in the jurisdiction where it is presented.

Some of these plants are easy to cultivate and grow while others are not. Some are even quite common in much of the US; others are over-harvested in the wild. Still others are rarely sold in the US as seeds or live plants. A few, such as salvia divinorum, rarely produce seeds and are propagated by cuttings. There are some about which little is known due to existence in less inhabited parts of the globe and use by indigenous peoples and others that have been intensely studied in medical research.

This presentation will cover both plants used primarily for medicinal purposes, such as goldenseal and ginseng, and plants more noted for visionary or relaxation experiences, such as kratom and kanna. It will discuss what is available, the existing literature, experiences of people who have ingested such members of the plant world (to the extent it is known), where website discussions may be found and where the plants and seeds may be found in the wild or purchased. It will offer tips on cultivation without reliance on expensive equipment and greenhouses, noting that one may need completely different soils and methods for different plants, depending upon their native habitat.

Note: this workshop may also be presented as one or two separate 75 minute workshops, one covering visionary plants and one covering plants historically used medicinally. It is re-emphasized that in no case will plants that are illegal to possess or grow in your jurisdiction be included in the workshop.

Lactic fermentations (1-2 hours). Hands-on creation of beet kvass, kimchi, naturally brined pickles, sauerkraut and kombucha, along with a discussion of other foods that may be brine pickled, including wild harvested, and a little bit about cheese.

Not all that is transformed by little beasties is beer and wine, although we could cover that too. Learn from my mistakes as well as my successes. Lament the fact that the best pickling cukes are harvested at the worst time for making pickles. However, there is a fix for that.

Anything else you want me to talk about? Hippie stories from the 60s-70s? Gardening experience? Just ask.