October News

The colors of fall are already popping out all over the forest floor as the many fall mushrooms have ben arriving. Two of my absolute favorites are among us, Lions Mane and Maitake, the trick is finding them! Besides those two you can find Honeys, Beefsteaks, Cauliflowers, Blewits, Puffballs, Turkey Tails, Shrimps, Chickens, Bears Head Tooths, and Corals, you may even still find some Chanterlles surprisingly, Milkies, and Boletes still hanging around. This month I’ll only be doing a limited number of walks, but there’s still time to get in on one. I’ve had a great time teaching this year and grateful for all those who joined me so far!

Markets: I’ll be announcing week by week the markets I’ll be attending through social media, so keep an eye on that if you want to catch me at the markets. This is the last month before market season ends! East Asheville Tailgate, Yancey County Tailgate and Lester Market.

Monthly Special: **Starts October 1st: This months special is $10 off all Lions Mane tinctures. Lions Mane is an amazingly medicinal mushroom, it helps improve memory and focus, regenerates brain cells, improves heart health, helps fight anxiety an depression, speeds up recovery of nervous system injuries, protects against ulcers, boosts the immune system, helps manage diabetes, anti-inflammatory and has shown promise in fighting cancer! Anything else you ask, well it also tastes great if you can find a fresh one up in the trees.

New products: I’m working on some new things! I’ve teamed up with Otherside Hemp Company here in Leicester and I’m creating a few new tinctures. I’m blending together their wonderful hemp flower with Chaga and also Cordyceps. I’m excited to mix the healing powers of CBD with mushrooms. I believe they compliment each other in all the good ways! These will be ready in about a month, so stay tuned.

With the mushroom season winding down, this month will be the last of the abundance, so get out there and enjoy some of the wonderful fall mushrooms while they last. The last of the heat will be leaving us soon, making way for the brisk autumn walks in the woods and I can’t wait. The photos above are some of the goodness growing out there currently. The Shrimps are plentiful this year and really one of the first years I’ve really enjoyed them, for many years I passed over these beauties but have since come to enjoy them a lot! Here’s a great article on cooking and preserving them: https://foragerchef.com/entoloma-abortivum-aborted-entoloma-mushroom/

I want to leave you this month with the notion that, mushroom hunting is fun and brings us into a mindful state while walking in the woods, with that we are exposed to all the wonders of nature, plants, animals, insects, trees, flowers, moss, and so much more! It’s a wonderful to practice while mushroom hunting to stop and apricate all the beauty that is around you.

A lotus I found while kayaking on my trip

September News

Oysters

Saying good bye to the summer is always a little hard, especially the summer mushrooms! However you may have noticed we got an abundance of rain going into this month. September and fall bring a new set of mushrooms with it, some of the best varieties of the year in my opinion. Hiking is a bit more pleasant with the cooler mornings as well.

***Special Announcement : I will be traveling for the first couple weeks of this month on a much needed road trip up north. I will be shipping orders from the road but unavailable to do local deliveries and I won’t be at any markets until the end of the month. There will no mushroom walks either until the end of the month. With that said, I dropped this newsletter early and will start the Maitake special tomorrow. Also if any local folks would like anything before I go, now is your chance, I’ll be leaving on the first.

In other news, my products made their way to downtown Asheville and are being carried by Element Tree Essentials located at 18 Wall street. It’s a great wellness shop that carries natural products along with local gifts. Element Tree is woman owned and operated! Say hi to Kasey, the owner if you go there.

On the product front, I’ve been talking with a great local hemp grower in Leicester called Otherside Hemp co. with the idea to create my newest product which will be a tincture blend of medicinal mushrooms with CBD. This project has been a long time coming for me. Another collaboration I’m working on is a Chaga skin care product!

Markets this month: The new Lester Market has been wonderful, I’m excited to be a part of this great community in Leicester, NC! I plan to return to this market on the 22nd and 29th of the month.

East Asheville: I plan to be at the market once this month on the 24th.

Yancey county/Burnsville: Planning for the 25th only.

Monthly Special: This months special is on Maitake double extracted tinctures. This pretty mushroom is not only tasty but packed with medicinal goodness and will be in the forest very soon. They call it the dancing mushroom, as when you find it, you dance with joy! With the delta variant running wild and flu season heading in, it’s a good time to get Maitake into your system! Besides fighting viruses such as the flu, it helps treat type 2 diabetes, can help with weight loss, and could be very useful in fighting and preventing breast cancer! All tinctures will be $10 off. Take a look at these articles on Maitake and it’s benefits:

https://wa.kaiserpermanente.org/kbase/topic.jhtml?docId=hn-2127000

https://www.healthline.com/health/food-nutrition/maitake-mushroom

These are some of the wonderful mushrooms we’ll start seeing this month. Most of these are easy to identify, however the Honeys do have a look alike called the deadly Gallerina. These are much smoother caps and dark gills opposed to light gills on the Honeys.

Deadly Gallerina

In the medicinal realm, Turkey Tail, Birch Polypore, Maitake, Lions Mane and Bears Head Tooth make up those you’ll start seeing, not to mention the Lions Mane, Maitake and Bears Head are wonderful edibles and some of my favorites! Chickens will hang around into October and you may find Chanterelles, Boletes, and Milkies still hanging around this month as well. My walks will continue through fall, the end of this month and through October I’ll be available.

Lastly I want to say THANK YOU to all of you that support my small business! To all my loyal, returning and new customers and all the businesses that carry my products…..thank you for helping my business to grow and for helping me achieve my dreams, each one of you plays a part in Blue Ridge Chaga Connection. It’s an absolute delight meeting folks on my walks, at the markets, and virtually from afar. I certainly couldn’t do it without you all. So welcome fall, the colors, the mushrooms, the coolness in the air and as always, happy hunting.

August News

Blue Indigo Milky

It’s August and the last month of summer already! This will be a prime month to see the most variety of fungi in the forest. The Bolete family is in full swing with over 2000 different kinds! The milky, jelly, and polypore mushrooms are out there, along with Chanterelles, Chickens, Cauliflowers and the toothed varieties. It’s all going on. It’s been exciting for me to travel to peoples property and walk their land, finding mushrooms and plants. I’ve met some great folks and look forward to seeing more. Walks are available through out the month with the exception of a week when I may be out of town. The month of September I will be gone the first 3 weeks traveling, so August will be a busy time for walks, if interested just contact me.

Markets this month: Happy to be adding my new home town market of Leicester to the mix. That market will happen on Wednesdays at the Leicester community center right off Leicester Hwy. It runs from 3:30-6:30. I plan to be at the opening day on the 4th, and I will be there all this month.

Another new market is Mavericks Freedom Market in Weaverville. This market takes place at 108 Monticello Road East Entrance 28787. It is on Tuesdays from 3-6. I will there on the 3rd.

East Asheville tailgate: August 6th, 20th and 27th.

Yancey County market: August 14th, 21tst and 28th.

Monthly special is on Mullein tincture. My latest and greatest. I’m doing $25-2oz double extracted tinctures and $15-1oz double extracted tinctures, that’s $10 off each. Mullein is an amazing plant, it improves respiratory health, especially lungs, nose and throat. Helps fight the flu, treat upper respiratory infections, coughs and asthma. Seems an important medicine to be using right now.

Here’s some of what you might be seeing in the forest right now! The mushroom families representing are corals, milkies, boletes, polypores, jellies, gilled and toothed fungus. Some of the more unusual ones are the lobster mushroom which actually devours other mushrooms to become the bright orange lobster claw. The shaggy stalk bolete, has a very unique stem that is webbed. Lilac and dee purple corals, also blue indigo milkies for their colors. The beefsteak is slimy and when cut looks like raw steak and it is one of the very few mushrooms that can eaten raw. Needless to say there is a ton of variety in the forest right now. I really enjoy making a wild mushroom melody over rice, or in tacos, pizza, pasta, the possibilities are endless! Foraging wild mushrooms and cooking them is a whole experience and calls for creativity in the kitchen. When I lead walks I ask people to send me photos of the meals they make with the mushrooms and love to see the responses.

I’m excited to be in a new home town store. Grateful Roots is a wonderful store and cafe in Leicester, right off 63, Leicester Hwy. They carry organic products and make some super good food. They will be carrying some of my products!

Until next month……..

July News

Little Brown Mushrooms (LBMs)

Welcome to summer everybody! It’s been a slow start to the mushroom invasion, the rains have been far and few between, and the heat and dry conditions have kept the mushrooms at bay, for now. However there’s great excitement going into this month. Much of mushroom hunting is patience and persistence, which is something we learn from Morel hunting. Mushroom walks will be in full swing all month long, with a few exceptions during the month, so reach out and we can make a plan. Please note that if conditions have not been too wet, the chances of seeing a lot is reduced. I try to tell people to follow the rains, three days after a rain is prime time to go hunting. I’m compiling a list of emails of folks that are interested in a walk and as the rain comes, I’ll be reaching out to those people to schedule a walk, if you’d like to be on that list let me know. Walks are $40/person and last about an hour and a half, locations vary. Private residence walks are available as well, I come to you! Those walks are $50/hour.

Product update: I started Indian Pipe tincture in June, so tinctures will be ready around the middle of July. I always make limited batches of this special tincture, being extra careful not to over harvest. I have everything else in stock and planning to add a Mullein tincture to the list.

Mullein is a large plant with fuzzy leaves, that gets a huge shoot of yellow flowers straight out of the center of the plant. You often see it on hillsides or roadsides, it’s hard to miss! Mullein is known for it’s ability to repair the lungs, some people smoke the dried leaves, it can also be made into a tincture or drank as a tea. Both the leaves and the flowers are used. It helps keep inflammation away from the nose, throat and mouth, besides that Mullein is Anti-bacterial and Anti-viral. This is an important plat right now, especially since covid is a respiratory virus.

Besides Mullein, I’m adding Reishi half pounds. The dried Reishi is ground up. Half pounds will be $40. Look for it under my shop tab.

This months special is on Cordyceps tinctures: $10 off all tinctures, making 1oz tinctures $15 and 2oz tinctures $25 all month long! The discount will be automatically applied.

Markets this month: Special July 4th market at Trust General store and café in Spring Creek. This market runs from 11-4. Trust General is at 14535 NC 209 Hwy, just before Hot Springs.

East Asheville Tailgate market 7/9, 7/23 and 7/30

Burnsville/Yancey county Tailgate 7/17, 7/31

King Street Market-Boone 7/27

Here’s just a few of the mushrooms to be on the look out for this month and I say just a few because there will a lot more. This month should be one of the most exciting for a few reasons. One reason is because mushroom hunting takes patience, after the Morels leave there’s the gap before we start seeing the others, so the anticipation has been building. Although Morels are one of the tastier mushrooms, Chanterelles, Chickens, Oysters, Cauliflowers and more taste just as good to me and having a variety to cook up and get creative with is quite the reward. For me summer time is the best for teaching ID, as there is the most variety out there. Being able to teach the poisonous varieties along with milky, boletes and various other mushrooms makes learning a lot more in depth.

As we get out in the forest more it’s important to keep your eyes open for more than just mushies! There’s always a good chance to run into black bears, although they look like they’d be fun to hug, it’s best to stay away. I’ve ran into two so far this year on the trail and it’s scary but being calm and slowly backing up and walking away is a good strategy, don’t run, the other is to get big and make a lot of noise. Be safe and welcome to the summer.

June News

Welcome to June everybody and the summer mushroom season kicking off! I’ve been blessed with two lovely Chicken of the Woods so far this year, which is a wonderful early gift from the forest. With some good rains we should see the mushrooms popping. I’ve noticed a few Russula, some Fawn and Wood Ear mushrooms. The Reishi mushrooms have been growing all over, look for pine and hemlock trees. For the last few years I have been trimming the white, soft edges and sautéing them with butter, oil, garlic and fresh herbs, they are quite nice.

Walks: I’m ready to get out there with you and do some walks, I will not be available the first week of the this month, so if your interested in booking a walk the first available date will be June 7th. You may have taken my card at a market or signed up for my newsletters or found out by word of mouth, in all cases to book a walk simply contact me at my email blueridgechaga@gmail.com or by phone (828)423-3875. I am available week days or weekends, mornings, afternoons or evenings. I can usually work with any schedule. If I plan to be out of town I try to make an announcement. Each walk is $40/person and lasts about an hour and a half. Some of you have expressed interest in me coming to your property. The cost for that is $50/hr. I don’t charge for travel but any donations are welcomed .

Markets: This is my schedule this month for markets.

East Asheville tailgate market @954 tunnel rd Groce United Methodist Church Friday 6/18 and 6/25 3-6pm

Yancey County tailgate market @6 south main street Burnsville, Nc Saturday 6/12 and 6/26 8:30am-12:30

King Street tailgate market @130 Poplar Grove Connector Boone, Nc Tuesday 6/15 4-7pm

Black Mountain tailgate market @130 Montreat rd Black Mountain, Nc Saturday 6/19 9am-12

Monthly Special: This months special is Buy One Get One Free Reishi double extracted 2oz tinctures, Tis the season for allergies and Reishi can help, another great mushroom to help fight allergies is Maitake. Here’s an article to browse over: https://www.thejoyofwellness.net/do-you-suffer-from-allergies-try-reishi-mushrooms/

I wanted to take a moment to highlight a special, rare find. Recently as I was wandering in the forest I came across a large object that looked like some sort of seed. As a naturally curious person I cracked it open and noticed the white interior, instantly I thought this to be a truffle but upon sharing the image with some other mushroom people I learned it was Wolfiporia extensa, also known as China Root. It’s an underground mushroom that grows near pines, lucky for me the ground where I found it was dug up, most likely by an animal, and it was simply laying exposed. It resembles a coconut shell to some degree. I sent it along to PA and amazing citizen scientist and mushroom master, William Padilla Brown. He cloned it in his lab and it worked! He had been searching for the North American version for seven years! Now I can’t wait to see how he uses it.

This mushroom is highly medicinal, it has been used for centuries in Asia  and possess a wide spectrum of pharmacological activities, including anti-viral, anti-tumor, anti-oxidant, free-radical scavenging, anti-rejection, anti-hyperglycemic, antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, and antihypertonic stress effects. This sclerotia has been documented at up to 80% immune modulating polysaccharides!! I’ve read the Natives used it as a food source as well as medicine. I was too excited to share this beauty. Find out more on Williams process here: https://www.instagram.com/p/COu0DUnsDGP/?utm_source=ig_web_copy_link

Hope to see some new and old faces out at the markets or in the forest this month! Happy hunting in sunshine!!

pink lady slipper

May News

Welcome spring! I love the month of May for many reasons but especially for the flowers. As the last of the Morels appear and disappear this month, there seems to be a space of a few weeks before other wonderful mushrooms start fruiting. I’ve noticed Wood Ears, Pheasant Backs and Reishi babies growing. I enjoy getting on the trail and stopping to smell the flowers. There’s so many wild flowers popping out, fiddle heads, Bloodroots, May Apples, Golden Ragwort (pictured above) and on and on. This time of year reminds me of Alice in wonderland, as she danced around and sang in the flowers.

This month I have two new products coming! I have been wanting to work with Cordyceps for a long time and have been asked on occasion if I did, that said, I have double extracted and vegetable glycerin tinctures on the way! Cordyceps are amazing fungi that most often grow off dead insects. They have become popular to grow as well. Cordyceps have a range of wonderful benefits including: boosting energy, protecting heart health, regulating respiratory function, strengthens the immune system, improves libido, and anti-aging properties. I don’t know how I’ve not worked with these little medicinal powerhouses so far! The tinctures can be found in my shop.

My other product is a blend of Usnea and Birch Polypore. The collective benefits of these two included boosting the immune system, anti-viral and anti-bacterial properties, promoting a healthy microbiome and gastrointestinal system, improving respiratory and urinary health. This tincture will be available in double extraction form only. Our respiratory health is of the utmost importance these days and I’m happy to find new ways to help improve mine and yours as well.

I will be doing the King street market in Boone, on Tuesday, May 11th….East Asheville market Friday, May 14th and May28th ……and Yancey County market Saturday, May 22nd.

Lastly in honor of the growing Reishi in the forest, the monthly special is buy one get one free on dried, wild crafted Reishi pieces. So two ounces for $10.

Get out and enjoy the lovely spring weather while it lasts. I found my first Chicken of the Wood, which seems early but hey every year is different, so keep your eyes out. I’m excited to get walks started and we are getting closer, I’m thinking the last week of this month would be about right. Sign up on the home page to stay informed!

April News

It’s many mushroom hunters favorite time of year, as the highly sought after, most popular, little fungi friends, the Morels appear. The first few years of mushroom hunting produced zero Morel finds for me and that wasn’t due to a lack of looking. As spring brings new color to the landscape, the left over fall and winter leaves remain. The brown color of those leaves makes for great camouflage for Morels. Some of the top secrets I can share about hunting Morels is patience, forest creeping (kneeling, laying down, slowly combing over an area) and of coarse it’s all in your timing. Morels love sunny hillsides, dried up and flowing stream beds alike, old and new apple orchards, Poplar forests, and dead Elm trees. It helps to follow others social media posts, and advice, it’s without a doubt that mushroom hunters love to share their excitement about their finds and many don’t mind sharing elevations, environments and such. After finding zero for the first few years, I was able to dial in some nice spots and now I enjoy Morels every spring! I might add I don’t sell any Morels unfortunately, it’s the one mushroom, when I find it, is just for me.

Tailgate market season starts this month! I will be doing the East Asheville market mostly this year, with various once a month markets in Black Mountain, Burnsville, Boone and possibly one in Tennessee. The first market for East Asheville is April 9th from 3-6 at 954 Tunnel rd. I will post on social media the week of the market I will be attending. The online markets are going strong and it’s easy and convenient. Check out Patchwork Alliance (Asheville), High Country Food Hub (Boone), and Market Wagon (Upstate SC). There’s some really great vendors that make amazing, local products on all of those sites. They offer delivery or convenient pick up!

This months special is Turkey Tail: 1/2 pound of shredded wildcrafted Turkey Tail mushroom for $40, that’s half off! It makes a great tea or tincture. Turkey Tail is great for improving digestive health, boosting the immune system, fighting various cancers, can be used in conjunction with chemo treatment as well, helps combat HPV, is safe for use with canine cancers, packed with anti-oxidants and fights fatigue.

Another early spring mushroom to be on the look out for these pretty things called Pheasant Backs. They grow on decaying stumps mostly, have a scent of cucumbers and taste great with scrambled eggs! They taste best when picked young and are still slightly spongy, as they mature they taste bitter. Pheasants have no gills, instead a white spongy bottom.

Lastly, it’s just one month away from restarting my walks! This year I’m taking only small groups of no more than 3 people, with possible exceptions. Simply contact me via email: blueridgechaga@gmail.com or by phone (828)423-3875 to arrange a walk. I have flexible availability so same day walks are possible but planning ahead is encouraged. Happy Morel hunting, feel free to share photos and locations.

March News

It looks like an in like a lion, out like a lamb situation this year. The snow has been plentiful, the cold days have been many and the winter continues on. With extra freedom in my work life, I’ve highly enjoyed getting out more into the forest. I also enjoyed picking loads of Turkey Tail and Usnea. I’ve been foraging for over a decade and the excitement and pure joy of finding mushrooms has not worn off. The vibrant colors, the smells, the many shapes and forms, it’s all so fulfilling, both to my soul but also as my work.

After a successful ASAP conference, I made some new contacts with some wonderful markets including Mother Earth Foods, Be Natural Market, Swamp Rabbit Cafe, Zadie’s Market and the AVL Box, also separately the Wagon Market. It’s all very exciting to be able to reach more people all around my region!!

It’s been great being a producer in the Patchwork Alliance, High Country Food Hub and Boone Street Markets! Being able to offer my products to more people , in new areas around WNC and beyond, is my goal for this year and it’s already underway. In this new world, many things have changed, the way we interact has been altered for sure. Online markets have been invaluable as a resource to get local products delivered to you or ready for pick up, convenient and safe.

I just can’t get enough of taking pictures and admiring Turkey Tail mushrooms!

It’s been a very wet, rainy, snowy winter and I predict it will be a very plentiful spring, summer and fall for the mushrooms! Stay healthy and safe out there everyone……..

February News Letter

February is a special month for me as I was born on the first day. I’m 43 this year, even though I feel age creeping in inside my body, I still feel young in spirit. At the end of last month I left my ‘day’ job as a substance abuse counselor to pursue my passion and dream of putting full time and effort into my business and here I am doing just that. I’m so very thankful for my repeat and new customers alike, now more than ever.

As a thank you, all month long I’m offering a special of buy one get one free on 4 of a Kind tinctures, either size 1 oz or 2 oz. The 4 of a Kind is made up of Chaga, Reishi, Turkey Tail and Lions Mane in equal parts. ***The free one will not show in your cart, I will add it to your order when I ship or deliver it. Offer only good when ordering off this site.

For all Local deliveries I’m adding a $5 delivery fee going forward.

I continue to collect Chaga, Turkey Tail and Usnea throughout the winter. There’s a wonderful peace and silence to the winter, those things I enjoy most. I spend a lot of time hunting for mushrooms in the other seasons, I sometimes miss the beauty and appreciation of being out in the woods, so this time of year means slowing down, looking around and soaking up the crisp, cold, wintery beauty.

Winter is a great time to highlight Usnea, also known as old mans beard. Closely related to the mushroom family are the lichens. Usnea is wildly available anywhere in the forest. With snow on the ground and all the leaves missing, spotting Usnea is pretty easy, as it’s neon green color stands out. Old mans beard has many benefits and is a key herb at this time to help fight co-vid, as it is used to treat respiratory issues such as cough and congestion. It is also great for ridding yourself of the common cold, I’ve heard stories of people picking and eating it raw and almost instantly feeling better. I myself prefer to make a tea or take the tincture. Other benefits include anti-bacterial, anti-microbial, anti-fungal, immune boosting, and very beneficial against herpes, HIV and weakened immune systems. It can also help treat bleeding, headaches and female issues such as yeast or bacterial infections. It is certainly a magical little lichen. Look for it when your out wandering the forest, it can be dripping off tree branches or trunks or simply right at your feet on the forest floor. There is an old Cherokee tradition of only collecting Usnea off the ground or on downed branches, as then it has been freely offered by mother nature to you. I have double extracted tinctures and dried Usnea by the ounce or can make teabags on request.

Here’s a great article on Usnea:

Surprising Health Benefits of Usnea

In other exciting news my products have made their way into some new markets! I’m now on the High Country Food Hub in Boone, NC, Forager, based out of Maine, Boone Street Market in Jonesborough, TN and Patchwork Alliance, locally in Asheville.

Spring is only a few short months away and those lovely, little Morels are still hiding, soon to emerge! Until then, get out there and enjoy what’s left of the winter. A fun activity in our parts, can be to go for a walk on the Blue Ridge Parkway along the closed sections. I hope everyone stays healthy and strong.