December News

December is a time to welcome in the winter, the refreshingly cold air, and a time to pick Turkey Tail mushrooms and forage the diamond of the forest, Chaga. Both of these medicinal mushrooms are important this time of year, as colds and flu are more present around us. The warm tea can be soothing and often times people create blends of these two together, also adding Reishi and other herbs, letting them simmer throughout the day in a large crock pot. Mushroom soups are another wonderfully medicinal meal in the colder days, throwing in Chaga, Reishi, Turkey Tail or Maitake is a great way to get some wonderful benefits.

This Months Special: Given it’s Chaga season, all Chaga products will be discounted.

$5 off Chaga teabags, $10 off Chaga tinctures, $10 off Chaga pounds, $5 off Chaga half pounds, $5 off mason jars.

This months markets:

I will be at Mars Hill Holiday markets on December 4th nd 18th. It goes from 10-1 and happens on college street in Mars Hill, NC. http://marshillmarket.org/

Also the Uncommon holiday Market December 11th and 12th happening at AB Tech Mission Health conference center from 10-4pm.

Chaga is the mushroom that started it all for me. I found it unusual, a top medicinal and fun to forage. I have learned over the years to treat it with great respect, by being sustainable in my harvesting methods especially. What this can look like is leaving 25-30% in the tree to regenerate, foraging in regions where Chaga is more abundant and not collecting more than is needed. Chaga is unique as it is a very slow grower and takes many years to mature, harvesting it too young or small is not beneficial or sustainable. Chaga eventually leads to the trees death, however seems to effect mostly already dying trees. Much like they say the cure looks like the disease, Chaga has anti-tumor effects, helping to shrink cancerous tumors, such it looks like and acts like a tumor on the tree. Chaga is known to be the king of medicinal mushrooms, providing immune system regulation, natural energy, anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant properties, is great for keeping skin healthy, adding pigment and protecting against UV rays, it can also help prevent wrinkles. I added the Chaga magic shea butter product to my shop so you can now order it through this site.

I wish you all a very merry holiday season, stay healthy and warm out there!! It’s a time to be grateful, for blessings in our lives, family, friends, random acts of kindness and a time of giving and sharing. I had a wonderful thanksgiving with my family down in siesta key, Florida, I even made a wild mushroom gravy! I am feeling refreshed and connected, ready to go into the forest for the winter foraging ahead. I apricated the sunsets down there very much, I’ll leave you with this one….

November News

November is a great time to reflect on the year that’s been, to sit by a fire, to break out the long sleeves and of coarse to wander in the woods. As the mushroom season comes to a close for some, for me it’s a time to collect Turkey Tail, Usnea, and go Chaga hunting. It’s also a time to stock up on inventory, medicine making and doing quite winter hikes. My walks for the year are finished and it has been wonderful, I got in several home visits and had some amazing groups join me locally. I’ve been spending some time lately collaborating with some local folks and trying out new product ideas with great success! I’m always open to a good session of brain storming, farm visits, and discussion of how mushrooms can be intertwined with other herbs or food, so if you care to discuss an idea let me know.

Monthly Special: This month I’m spotlighting Turkey Tail! All Turkey Tail tinctures will be $10 off, teabags $5 off, and $20 half pounds, plus a discount if ordering a whole pound! Turkey Tail is one of the most medicinal mushrooms out there. It has proven itself as a cancer fighter, especially breast cancer. It’s used for immune boosting, keeping the gut flora healthy and aids in digestion. Turkey Tail fights HPV, can be helpful for canine health, improves kidney function and has anti-inflammatory properties.

Markets: I’m hoping to do a few markets this month. The Lester market in Leicester will continue through the month on Wednesdays 3:30-6:30 and also the Black Mountain market will go through November 20th, I’m planning to do one or two of those.

Introducing Chaga Magic! This skin care Shea butter is made from Shea butter, Chaga extract, tocopherol, essential oils of fennel, pine, star anise, rosemary and Adaptiv™ by Doterra. You won’t find this product in my shop here, so contacting me is the best way to get it, or visit her website below.

This amazing mix is created by my friend Sara at https://www.ancientalcheme.com/

Here’s two great articles to check out:

So what’s going to be left out there this month. I honestly believe it’s hard to say! The extended warm weather has left many species still growing when in other years they’d be done. As every year is different, so goes the mushroom seasons. I’ve seen some varieties such as Boletes and Milkies hang around extra long this year, so my conclusion is let the surprise be the reward! Keep looking into this month for the fall varieties such as Chickens, Hens and Honeys. Some mushrooms that thrive out here normally this month are Birch Polypore, a wonderfully medicinal mushroom that grows on Birch trees, I use this in a tincture paired with Usnea, something else you’ll see all winter. Late fall Oysters, with a slightly brown color. Of coarse Chaga, which grows all year round and Turkey Tail, the same. Less known and harder to identify are the Enoki, Brick Tops and Blewits, it’s best to simply admire these until you get a good dose of knowledge around them, especially Enoki, as it has a very close look alike the deadly Gallerina! There may also be Wood Ears and other jelly family mushrooms out. Last on the list is the Resinous Polypore, also known as steak of the wood! It’s the last two pictures below. This mushroom looks somewhat like Reishi but is a deep brown on the cap. This is a great edible growing this month, just last year I really got into cooking these up and found them to be delightful!

I leave you this month with the notion that fall is a special time to be in the forest. Stop to smell and admire the falling leaves, as the trees go bare, enjoy the brilliant changing colors, throw on an extra layer and embrace the cooler climate and give thanks, for your loved ones, friends, and in reflection for all the earth has provided for you this year!

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.

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