June Newsletter

It’s a new month and with it brings some exciting news. This month I will begin leading mushroom and plant ID walks! I will adding dates and times on my calendar for folks to sign up. The price is $30 a person and walks last about an hour and a half to 2 hours. I have had increased interest in private walks one on one or just a few people which is great and I’m always happy to do. If you’d like me to come to your property the cost is a bit higher at $50 an hour. At this time I plan to limit group sizes to 3-5 total for each walk. I have been out in the woods quite a bit and keeping a close eye on what’s growing and popping out. I have seen several varieties of mushrooms with Chicken of the Wood on my radar. I will be starting the second week of this month. Some dates are set and available if you click the Book Now button. ****If you don’t see a date for your availability, contact me at blueridgechaga@gmail.com and I can most likely make it happen! I am very flexible on times and days.****

This month is also the opening of the East Asheville Tailgate Market. It will begin Friday, June 5th and run from 3-6 pm in the same location as last year off Tunnel road. I will be vending this market as well as Weaverville on Wednesdays and Black Mountain on Saturdays. I will not be at every market but will announce when I will be at each one on social media each week. I always enjoy doing the local markets very much because of the chance to connect with new people and vendors in our community.

edible white edges

This spring has brought a wild abundance of Reishi, which is wonderful. Every season is different as we know times can change rapidly, so can mother nature and the natural world, last year was a decent Reishi year but this year is most abundant! Many people are unaware that the white edges can be eaten and are rather delicious! Reishi is one of the most powerfully medicinal mushrooms on the planet as well.

Some of the highlights of this month are exciting, top of the list is the COW, or Chicken Of The Woods. This one is easy to identify and a most sought after mushroom. Chickens taste best when found young, they get a bit tough as they fan out. You can make a variety of dishes with chickens that are truly delicious. Another great find is the Wood Ear mushroom. You can find this mushroom in many Asian dishes. This one is also an easy one to pick out in the woods. Also out in full force are polypore mushrooms. This is one of the safest families to forage and are often used in soup stocks. The most sought after one being Turkey Tail. Turkey Tail is identified by it’s colorful rings and white underside. Turkey Tail is a medicinal wonder and can used to make teas and tinctures. Polypores have no gills but rather teeth or pores underneath. They are some of the prettiest mushrooms you’ll see.

I can’t wait to get back to teaching and hope to see some new faces out on a walk in the woods with me. I’ve had a super successful spring forage so far, harvesting beautiful Reishi and Chaga. Finding the king and queen on the same hike is always a super highlight for me and recently I did just that. I’ve been busy cutting, smashing, drying, preparing teabags, tinctures and filling jars to bring to all those who seek out great health and immune boosting goodness. Hope to see ya’ll soon!!

Protecting against COVID-19 with Medicinal Mushrooms

As the Corona virus continues to be all around us, with little signs of going away anytime soon, it’s brought a lot of awareness along with it. The awareness I’m talking about is prevention, things we can do to help build up our systems to gain strength and protection against viruses and giving the body the tools to recover quicker. I have known about the benefits of medicinal mushrooms for ten years now. I have studied, researched and continue to learn all the time about the many properties and effects they have in our bodies. Ever since I began to learn, I began to drink the teas, take the tinctures and consume these different medicinal mushrooms on a daily basis. What I’ve seen and felt has helped my everyday life considerably. For instance, having arthritis in both my knees and being an avid hiker, I don’t experience the swelling in my knees I did previously. I haven’t been sick from the common cold in years and have never had the flu. I experience a calm and focused mind more often. My energy levels have increased. My allergies to pollen have gotten way better. I simply feel healthier, happier and a feeling of strength and ease knowing I’m adding such goodness to my body. I recently got an email from a customer in New Haven, Connecticut who was positive for the Corona virus. She previously bought a Chaga tincture at a tailgate market, also drinking the tea from Chaga she got from a friend. As she went through the shortness of breathe, fever, and coughing, she used all natural methods to get well again. The Chaga was a part of the mix she used, along with vitamin C, Zinc, Pau D’Arco and other herbs. She also practiced deep meditation and yoga during her recovery. This was great news to hear that she was recovering from the virus and that the Chaga was one of the tools she used.

There has been endless medical research throughout our history on all sorts of drugs, cures and treatments. The research on medicinal mushrooms seems quite behind and relatively new in our country. In places like Eastern Europe and Asia much more research has been done and the use of medicinal mushrooms like Chaga, Reishi, Maitake, Lions Mane and Turkey Tail is much more widespread and revered. All of these mushrooms are safe and highly beneficial, they are medicines we should have knowledge of and be implementing in our daily lives regardless of this virus, the fact that it is here and present has brought more people to realize they need to have a defense other than simply washing your hands or covering your mouth (which is super important all the same). Cautions of coarse should be taken when taking anything, interactions with medications is always a concern, though these mushrooms don’t contain any toxic properties, checking with your doctor or medical professional is strongly encouraged.

During these times we are in now it’s important and critical to be filling up our heads with good, useful information on ways to protect ourselves, to build strong immune systems and find healthier, more natural alternatives. This is a conversation that isn’t coming from the main stream media or officials! We need more information at the top levels of how important it is to build our immune systems with natural medicines during a time when such contagious viruses are popping up. There are many plants that grow in our region that are useful to boost immunity, strengthen our lungs and contain anti-viral properties, such as Usnea and Mullen for example. Taking Vitamin C and Osha root are both super helpful as well. Getting outside in the sunshine and walking, biking or hiking are everyday things we can do.

I believe and have seen research to support the idea that using medicinal mushrooms and herbs is more effective if they are taken straight from the forest, in other words wild crafted. I also believe in supporting your local economy, supporting local herbalists, wild crafters and small companies that provide such products. Mushrooms and plants thrive best in their natural environments, they contain more nutrients and beneficial properties than those being grown from kits or other methods. I enjoy the foraging aspect just as much as the reward of helping people. Being in connection with the natural world is a huge part of my everyday existence and gaining the knowledge I have over time of habitats, seasons, identification and uses has brought me even closer to the earth and a much healthier lifestyle. I’ve added a few interesting articles/links below to check out:

https://www.wisermindscompany.com/blogs/news/7-things-every-man-over-40-should-be-taking?fbclid=IwAR3TVlOYcssXICf37zkhAQ2CkZ5CVs8PNjdAsE_yXZRREmRAOSSzEc8s1oE

https://ergo-log.com/glucans-from-mushrooms-protect-against-virus-infections.html?fbclid=IwAR1urFzF0B-V_SW5PN_yWh4PdYtrCswsCaOhUUvwup9l5_xpPov1t8rr8F0

May Newsletter

It’s kind of unbelievable that it’s already May! As I get older this seems the norm, time just flying by. Like many mushroom hunters, I get excited this time of year, watching new flowers blooming, seeing mushrooms reemerge and the natural world turning green again. However we are in the middle months, by that I mean the Morels come and go and then we have a space of a month or two before the real hunting begins. Right now this month we are seeing Fawn, Wood Ear, and Pheasant Back mushrooms growing, all edible and fun to find. I’ll talk more about these and what else to look out for further down in the newsletter.

As for some updates, I’m excited to see the opening of the Black Mountain Tailgate Market this Saturday! I will be there vending. The market is it’s usual time of 9-12 in the morning. The location is slightly changed and there are of coarse distancing rules in place. Here is a statement from the market:

Here are the Market Rules for the BMTM, starting on May 2. Hours are the same 9-noon. Held in the South Parking lot at the First Baptist Church. Entry into market area is from the back of the church.
1. No one exhibiting symptoms may enter the market.
2. Maintain 6 ft of social distance at all times.
3. One customer per vendor at a time.
4. No pets allowed.
5. Children must be closely supervised.
6. Only handle product you are purchasing.
7. Contact-less payment forms preferred.
8. Total number of shoppers in market area restricted.
9. Face covering is desired and encouraged.

We’re sorry to have to do this and we hope things will open up sometime in the near future. We appreciate your cooperation. There is also more info on their facebook page.

All my products are in stock again and I recently purchased a new grinder to make Chaga powder more available. ***I plan to resume mushroom/plant identification walks in June and can’t wait as I love to teach and meet folks. ****

With the mushrooms returning, my favorite right now is the emerging of the Reishi! You may see the young growths, the bubbles, all over the pines and hemlocks in some places, I know I have. Reishi can be a slow grower and it’s important to let them mature before picking, the reason for this is to let it gain it’s medicinal potential, as well as be able to drop it’s spores to bring more Reishi. When they turn mostly red on top and have just small outer bands of white or yellow they are ready, for some this may take until June but some grow faster and are ready earlier. The outer bands of white and yellow are edible and tasty. Some research I have found indicates that there is a highly concentrated amount of medicinal value in the stems and letting those stems form is important. I have been drying some recent mature harvests to make tinctures from and have available in dry pieces. Reishi is the calming mushroom, used for centuries by Buddhist monks to find calm in the mind and body during meditation. It is good to help sleep and calm anxiety. Reishi is a tumor fighter and recognized to fight cancer. It detoxifies the liver and kidney and is highly anti-inflammatory. Reishi promotes a healthy respiratory system, slows the aging process and helps lower blood pressure. It’s the queen of medicinal mushrooms, as Chaga is the king. I have more info on Reishi under the mushroom info tab. I have dried Reishi available in pint sized mason jars for $25, premade teabags 4 teabags for $15 or in tincture form, 1 and 2 oz sizes in double extracted alcohol or organic vegetable glycerin. I’m happy to see these special mushrooms in bloom this month.

Pheasant Back or Dryad Saddle mushrooms pictured above are a tasty find. Usually growing on dead stumps or logs. They have an almost cucumber flavor and are best consumed young, like the first picture, they get tougher as they grow. They are especially good in eggs. Here’s a great recipe idea: https://foragerchef.com/the-cucumber-mushroom-dryads-saddlepheasant-back/

Fawn or Broad Gill mushrooms are another edible, but to be taken with caution. They aren’t the tastiest treat, some liken them to dirty socks. All the same they are out and about and I personally like them.

Fawn mushroom

I hope as part of boosting your immune systems you all are getting out and soaking in the spring sun. It’s just lovely this time of year in our region with all the blooms and green trees and plants! I look forward to new days ahead and see clearer skies coming. Stay tuned for more information on my walks and markets. Stay safe, healthy and happy!

April update 4/7

Chaga double extracted alcohol tinctures are finished and bottled! Also my Four Of A Kind (Chaga, Reishi, Turkey Tail and Lions Mane) in double extracted alcohol is freshly made and bottled.

Weaverville market is Wednesday’s from 2:30-5 pm:

Lower Parking Lot Behind
West Funeral Home
17 Merrimon Ave, 28787

I will be there every week. Preordering is available, just let me know what you want and I’ll have it ready at the market, pick up and go.

Also excited to be back at Half Moon Market in Black Mountain! A full stock of fresh made tinctures, tea bags and loose Chaga. Stop by and see Justin.