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.

What’s in those mushrooms?

Most people who seek out medicinal mushrooms such as Chaga, Reishi, Lions Mane, Maitake and Turkey Tail, among many others, have some knowledge that they are good for us. Some of us read articles and look at scientific research, we may have heard about mushrooms from friends or family, or we are just curious about them. The picture above is what my cupboard looked like when I got started diving into mushroom foraging and making medicine. In the beginning I fell into the curiosity category, knowing very little but over the years I have learned so much and continue to everyday. This post is designed to break down, in a simple way, what benefits we get from mushrooms.

Polysaccharides: These are essentially carbohydrates. Poly means ‘many’, saccharides means ‘sugars’. One of the main functions of these compounds is to store energy. Most all medicinal mushrooms contain polysaccharides, some more than others. One type of Polysaccharide found in the cell walls of mushrooms are Beta D Glucans. These are responsible for many of the benefits we gain from mushrooms such as Anti-Oxidants, boosting and regulating the immune system and blood sugar and cholesterol regulation. They also help fight cancer and slow or stop tumor growth.

Terpenoids are another compound found in many medicinal mushrooms. They are responsible for Anti-Microbial, Anti-Viral, Anti-Oxidant, Anti-Inflammatory and Anti-Neurodegenerative activity.

An important thing to share about these compounds is that some are water soluble and others are not, this show up when deciding to take a tincture or making a tea. Hot water will pull out some compounds, while alcohol or glycerin will pull the others out. Making a double or triple extraction tincture covers all the bases by mixing alcohol, hot and cold water infusions together. Of course you won’t miss a thing by taking the tincture and drinking the tea.

Vitamins can be found in all mushrooms but certain kinds are higher in medicinal mushrooms such as Vitamin D2, which is used when deficient in D vitamin, also in dietary supplements. Vitamin B12, used for energy, red blood cell formation, metabolism, nerve function and production of DNA. Vitamin C, which produces collagen for healthy bones, it helps us stay away from colds and plays a part in healthy muscles and tissues.

Within the vitamin family found in medicinal mushrooms there is Riboflavin (B2), is necessary to the body for cellular respiration. Niacin (B3), turn our food into energy and keeps our digestive, nervous systems and skin healthy. Pantothenic Acid (B5), which plays role in reducing anxiety and stress, also improves asthma and respiratory issues. Cholecalciferol (D3), is good for bones.

From vitamins to minerals, medicinal mushrooms can be high in minerals as well. Potassium, plays a part in making our vital organs function correctly, can lower blood pressure and improve heart health. Zinc, helps boost the immune system, testosterone production, and skin health. Copper, which transports oxygen and electrons to cells. Selenium, helps keep the immune and thyroid systems healthy. Ergothioneine, an Amino Acid, which is used for preventing liver damage, diabetes, heart disease and Alzheimer’s.

Here’s a list of health problems and the mushrooms that could help:

Diabetes: Maitake, Chaga, Lions Mane, Turkey Tail

High Blood Pressure: Reishi, Maitake, Oyster

Arthritis: Chaga, Reishi

Alzheimer’s/ Dementia/Brain health: Lions Mane

Stress/Anxiety/Depression: Reishi, Lions Mane

Digestive issues: Turkey Tail, Chaga, Reishi, Lions Mane

Heart issues: Lions Mane, Reishi

Liver/Kidney: Reishi, Oysters

Energy: Chaga, Turkey Tail

Sleep: Reishi, Indian Pipe

Immune Boost: Chaga, Reishi, Turkey Tail, Lions Mane, Maitake, Oysters

Cancer: Turkey Tail, Chaga, Reishi, Lions Mane, Maitake

**Medicinal mushrooms are not a cure for these conditions, consulting a doctor if on medication is recommended. Medicinal mushrooms continue to undergo testing in our country and are showing amazing promise in treating health conditions and also improving our overall health on a daily basis. These mushrooms have been tested and used successfully in treatments, especially cancer, in many other countries including throughout Europe, Asia and Russia.

2021! January Newsletter

Well done everyone, we made it! 2020 is behind us now and it’s a fresh start in the new year, 2021! I want to thank everybody for your support of my business, each of you has had a role in my success and doing what I do is a dream come true. I started this venture over ten years ago, learning, studying, foraging, work trading and going to school along the way. I believed in the mushrooms and their healing power. I was drawn to working with mushrooms right away and it quickly became a passion, something that hasn’t changed a bit to this day. I’m excited to begin identification walks again in the spring and meeting lots of new mycrophiles! This year has been exceptional in the mushroom realm of Western North Carolina. I discovered some new species to me, foraged a great deal of the medicinal and edibles I work with and taught several folks on my walks. I believe 2021 will be full of mushroom bounty and can’t wait to get back out in the spring. For now it’s Turkey Tail, Lions Mane and Chaga hunting all winter!

To welcome in the new year I’m running a special for the month on Chaga, buy any Chaga tincture, 1oz or 2oz and get a free set of Chaga teabags. Available in either double extracted alcohol or vegetable glycerin. All my products are wild crafted straight from the forest here in western North Carolina. Chaga is known as the king of medicinal mushrooms and also called the diamond of the forest. Chaga has a range of wonderful benefits for overall health. Chaga is Anti-Inflammatory which helps conditions such as arthritis, joint issues and digestion. Chaga is very high in Anti-Oxidants, showing higher content than any other food product, making it a superfood. It helps give you natural energy by boosting your immune system. Chaga is a Immune regulator. It is a cancer fighter, showing the ability to reduce the size tumors and slow tumor growth. It contains vitamins B, C and D, Zinc, Potassium, and Iron. Chaga tea or tincture along with doses of vitamin C has shown to be powerful for boosting the immune system and in turn is a good defense against Co-Vid, it is not a cure or preventive but could make a huge difference in the battle against the virus.

Blue Oysters

This year I plan to roll out some new products including Oyster mushroom tinctures, Oyster mushrooms contain polysaccharides which help boost your immune system, they also are great sources of niacin, riboflavin and pantothenic acid. Also Mullein tinctures, Mullein is traditionally used to improve lung function. As Co-Vid lingers all around us, these two medicinal tinctures will be a great additive to your routine. I’m also excited about offering tee shirts, stickers and reusable tote bags with my new logo on them this year. I also hope to expand some and get my products on more shelves. I’ll be out hitting the streets and talking to small shops that offer natural, health products such as the wonderful mushrooms I work with. Lastly in announcements in the new year, I’m looking to upscale my growing capabilities and start a subscription of fresh mushrooms to be available. I’m playing with idea of doing subscriptions for teas and tinctures as well, if your interested in having monthly or bimonthly orders of either of those please let me know.

Happiest of new years to all, 2021 will be better!!!

December Newsletter

Welcome to December, to winter, and to the passing of the year. Being out in the forest in the winter months is a special time for me, it means one thing, Chaga hunting! The cold air, the bare trees and the off trail adventures make for ideal Chaga conditions. Besides Chaga, there is an abundance of Turkey Tail still growing. This months feature is the many shades of Turkey Tail.

In honor and celebration of these two powerful, medicinal mushrooms, I’m running two specials this month. Specials are for the whole month of December.

A wellness pack: One Turkey tail 2oz tincture, One half pound of Chaga and One set of Reishi teabags for $50 (value of $85).

Buy one get one free on dried Chaga by the pound. When you order one pound of dried Chaga you get one free!

Turkey Tail, Trametes Versicolor, or the Cloud Mushroom, is a common, polypore mushroom that grows on fallen branches or dying tree trunks throughout our region. The identifying aspects are the colored rings on the top and a white bottom of pores not gills. You want to make sure the pores are solid white, they turn yellowish or off colored when too old to harvest. Turkey Tail has a rich history around the globe in traditional medicinal use. It is one of the only mushrooms FDA approved for cancer treatment, which is a shame considering Chaga, Reishi, Lions Mane and Maitake all show amazing results in helping to fight and treat cancer. I believe in the near future these other wonderful mushrooms will show up in mainstream treatments.

Turkey Tail has an array of benefits that include: Aiding in digestion, they help to improve gut bacteria balance. They contain powerful antioxidants that help boost your immune system, which is a key part of recovering from chemo treatments. Powerful Polysaccharides that help to inhabit the growth of cancer cells. Beta Glucans that help prevent obesity. They help to fight off the common cold and flu. Turkey Tail is good for fighting canine cancers as well. It helps treat HPV.

Turkey Tail can be used as a tea or soup base by using it in dried or fresh form, can also be taken as a tincture.

Another mushroom you may run across out there during December is the Resinous Polypore, or Skirt Steak of the woods as some call it. You may see a red liquid exuding from the cap. These mushrooms are extra fleshy and grow quite thick. I’ve tried these for the first time this year and highly enjoyed the flavor. Simply cut the mushroom in thin strips and sauté. As with most shelf mushrooms the outer edges are the best, as you get into the center they become tough and hard to eat.

Lastly let me say one of the things I’m grateful for is the fall bringing beautiful Lions Mane.

Happy holiday season everyone! Thanks for your support and may you all stay healthy, stay safe and be merry as we say goodbye to 2020.

The Good News Fall Update

I have a fresh round of tinctures made and ready to go out. To celebrate fall and the abundance it’s brought my way, I’m running a special on Maitake and Lions Mane tinctures. For the rest of this month if you buy a Maitake or Lions Mane tincture, 1oz or 2oz, I will add a mixed set of three teabags -1 Chaga, 1 Reishi and 1 Turkey Tail  for free. 

 While roaming around the forest this fall I have come across some nice Maitake, Lions Mane and Turkey Tail mushrooms. These make up a triple crown of medicinal goodness. 

Maitake, Hen of the Woods, or the dancing mushroom, as it’s known, typically grows at the base of Oak trees through the fall. It’s a harder mushroom to find as it is an expert at camouflaging itself among the brown leaves. Maitake is an important mushroom at this time in our world. One of it’s best benefits is that it helps fight off the flu. The flu season is upon us and mixed with the Corona virus, it’s that much more important to protect ourselves the best we can. Maitake also boosts the immune system, is rich in minerals, vitamins and amino acids, all things our bodies need.

Lions Mane mushroom grows throughout the fall, on all sorts of dead tree trunks, fallen branches or logs. It’s a toothed mushroom and not much else resembles this beauty. Lions Mane benefits include: improved cognitive function, memory and focus, studies are showing promise against Dementia and Alzheimer’s diseases. It helps heal nerve damage, relieve depression, protect against ulcers, reduces heart disease rate, boosts the immune system and may help fight cancer.

Turkey Tail or cloud mushroom, grows wildly abundant all fall long. You can find it on fallen or intact tree branches and trunks. Turkey Tail is a little medicinal powerhouse. Benefits include: aiding in digestion, full of anti-oxidants, combats HPV, boosts the immune system, fights cancer, especially breast cancer, is antibacterial and helps fight canine cancer.

Besides these three, fresh Reishi, Chaga, Usnea, and Four Of A Kind tinctures are being bottled. I have plenty of loose, dried Turkey Tail and Chaga on hand as well.

In more exciting news I have set up my website to take payments and do check out, so no more back and forth emailing, simply pick what you’d like and buy directly online. 

The last market of the year that I’ll be doing is next weekend 11/21 at Black Mountain Tailgate market from 9-12.

November Newsletter

It’s November and the year is almost over, thank goodness. I say that only based on the pandemic and state of our nation, in the world of mushrooms it has been a great year. Since I ended walks for the year and began harvesting for my own personal use and medicine making for the business, the forest has provided! I have found my biggest, single Chaga piece, some grand Maitake clusters, loads of Turkey tail and even some Reishi, Chickens, Indigos, Honeys, Beefsteaks and Cauliflowers! And before the season closes I’m on the hunt for Lions Mane. For me this is a time of foraging, drying, tincture making, tea bag filling and stopping to appreciate the colors and wonders of the forest.

The season of tailgate markets is also winding down. The East Asheville market will end on the 30th of October, which I will be at. I have finished the Weaverville market for the year and a thank you to all who came to support me there. I do plan on doing a few markets in November in Black Mountain 9-12 and Burnsville 9-1, both on Saturdays. I will give announcements of any holiday markets I plan to attend. I’m grateful to all those who come to the markets and support us small local businesses and to all the vendors, volunteers and market managers for making it happen.

I’m also always interested in collaborations and new markets to carry my products. I’m in the works of working with some herbalists and coffee makers to create new products, coming soon. If you know of any connections or are yourself a connection please feel free to contact me. One such collaboration I’ve had for some time is with Sister Of Mother Earth, Lori is an immensely knowledgeable medicine maker who specializes in Elderberry products and various tonics. She uses my Chaga in her syrup and I use it everyday. Her products are all over Western North Carolina: https://www.sisterofmotherearth.com/

More and more information is popping out on the importance of using immune boosters during this pandemic. Vitamins and supplements are gaining a little more spotlight but little mention of mushrooms. I think it’s important to share the immune boosting mushrooms that can help us, such as, Turkey Tail, Chaga, Reishi, Maitake and Lions Mane, also the lichen Usnea. These along with Elderberry, Vitamin C, and Zinc, to name a few, can provide a first line of defense against Co-Vid 19, the flu and the common cold as winter sets in. Here’s a useful link for medicinal mushrooms: https://fullscript.com/blog/mushrooms-for-immune-health

These are some of the wonderful finds I’ve had since the beginning of October. I couldn’t be more ecstatic after finding the biggest single Chaga I’ve ever found. This beauty as you see is the size of a buffalo head! This single piece will make tons of medicine. After searching for several weeks, coming across a group of large Hen of the Woods, Maitake, has been another great highlight. I enjoyed eating and sharing a portion of that but also drying a bunch for tincture making. Maitake is powerful tool against the flu and viruses and all too often overlooked in that category. The Reishi I found is a variety called Ganoderma Curtisii, a bit more rare than the common Ganoderma Tsugae we often find in our region. Honey mushrooms should stick around a little longer, along with Chickens, Blewits, Puffballs and Cauliflowers. This part of late fall is also prime time for Turkey Tail, which I have seen everywhere.

As winter sets in I want to wish everyone safe and healthy days ahead. Do your part to protect yourselves and others from Corona Virus, don’t forget to vote and enjoy some time out in nature collecting vitamin D.

Keep up with my other adventures at my blog: https://funguy2017.wordpress.com/

Fall Update

With fall here among us I’ve decided to dedicate the rest of the season to foraging for medicine making. So I won’t be doing any more walks this year. It’s a great time to be out in the forest and I hope you all go exploring. Walks will resume in the spring with some Morel hunting.

For me the hunt for Maitake is a challenging one, some years it is elusive and others I find a bunch. I refer to as the ghost mushroom, as it goes unseen. I have found Lions Mane in unlikely places and Turkey Tail is showing up every where I go. Not to mention the great Chaga outings to come. I will bring fresh finds of Chicken of the Wood, Honey mushrooms, and Oysters to the market each week I’m there if your interested in those.

Fall Foraging

      Into the chilly morning air
             I go alone
            to search for 
           the ingredients 
         for healing potions.
     to search for dancing mushrooms 
      Turkey Tails and Lions Mane.

       Into the falling leaves
     red, yellow, purple, orange
             and brown,
    strolling about as acorns fall
         to the forest floor. 
        Their colors disguise
 the Chicken of the Wood and the Oyster,
      growing wild and unnoticed. 
       It's quiet here, peaceful.
         The mushrooms appear
          one by one by one
    and soon my basket shall be full.

         Into the woods I go
            fall foraging
        in the afternoon delight.  

October News Letter

Beef Steak, Chicken of the Woods and Turkey Tail

Fall has arrived and with it brings the end of the abundant mushroom season. However there are several things still out to be on the look for. I am planning to do a few more walks in October if it works out. This year has been my best yet for walks and I want to thank all those who joined me. The interest in learning is alive and well and thriving in our area for sure. In market news, many markets are planning on winter markets this year and I hope to be a part of those, more information with dates and which markets is coming soon. For now I’m still doing Weaverville and East Asheville on Wednesdays and Fridays, running through the end of this month. This week I will be at both. As fall and winter set in, it is prime time for me to be out Chaga hunting. I’m fully stocked with all my products, so contact me with any needs or wants you may have. So let’s get into it!

Out this month and pretty much ending the season as a whole are these wonderful mushrooms: Honey, Beefsteak, Chickens, Hens, Blewits, Puffballs, Lions Mane, Turkey Tail, Bears Head Tooth. You will see others as well but these make up the edible treasures. Honey mushrooms are known as the largest living organism on earth, measuring 2.4 miles across in Oregon. Honeys are great tasting, especially the stringy stems. They often grow in clusters and always on wood. They have white spore prints, often with a veil around the stem and sometimes with black hairs on the cap. There are Ringless Honeys, which can be smooth on top and no veil. The Deadly Galerina is the look alike to Honeys, they are smoother on the cap and darker orange color and have dark gills. Honeys have white gills. Miatake, Hen of the Woods are a favorite edible of mine taste wise. They are also wonderful medicine, as is Lions Mane. The Bears Head Tooth mushroom taste very similar to Lions Mane and it’s medicinal properties are showing promise much the same as Lions Mane. Blewits and Chickens should stick around through the month and one not pictured here is the Fall Oyster, sometimes called Golden Oysters, which I have found in the winter months before. Here’s a helpful link having to do with Honey mushrooms with a few recipes included: https://foragerchef.com/honey-mushrooms-the-pride-of-eastern-europe/

I want to take a minute and thank everyone who supports what I do….I am grateful to each of you!! I have met so many wonderful people through this work and feel blessed not only to share my passion but live it everyday. Enjoy the changing days and embrace the fall, it’s a pretty season in these mountains and it’s last chance to gather some mushrooms for awhile.

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