It’s April and spring is all around us! This spring season is unlike any other, given the state of the world. It’s also a chance to be outside, strengthening your immune system with fresh air and exercise. Hiking these mountains is a way to unplug and connect to something meaningful, nature. Our minds are busy with worry and fear, rightfully so, and getting in the forest can be a way to ease all that, at least for a little while.
It’s also Morel season and every mushroom hunter is out looking for them. It took me a few years to get to know these little beauties. I had to learn their environment and what surroundings they liked best. They were literally the ghost mushrooms to me, due to how well they blend in with their surroundings. They share the same color of the dry leaves, perfectly camouflaged. However once you find a ‘honey hole’, you keep that secret forever, or until someone discovers it. They are here already and this month will see many wonderful finds. Hunting Morels is a fun challenge indeed. It is also on top of every mushroom enthusiasts list. A helpful hint is search old or new apple orchards, old stream beds and sunny sides of mountains. Morels love some Poplar trees as well. The Morel season doesn’t last long, about a month at most, so get out there. Good luck!
Another great find this month will be Ramps. These wild leeks are super potent in flavor. They are strong in the garlic department. You can pick them out by a red color at the base and their twin leaves on top. They have an onion like bulb below the surface. Ramps are popular in burgers and with eggs. Warning the smell may stick with you for awhile.
In product news, I will have a full stock of tinctures in just a weeks time. Tailgate markets are still open and I plan to vend a few here and there. Weaverville is starting on the first of April. I will give you up to date news on which ones I’ll be at as they start. In the mean time online ordering is best for people not in the Asheville area. For locals meetings can be arranged or delivered. I have been out in the forest foraging quite a bit and have plenty of Chaga! Stay safe and healthy y’all…
Weaverville market is from 2:30 to 5pm. Excepting Venmo, PayPal or Square payments only.
NEW LOCATION Lower Parking Lot Behind West Funeral Home 17 Merrimon Ave, 28787
First of all I hope everyone is staying safe and healthy! It’s important to follow recommendations from officials and keep yourself informed. I believe the products I forage and make medicine from are an important resource for people to keep their immune systems strong, I will say they are not a cure or a certainty to prevent this virus, they are all strong immune system boosters and do help fight off sickness.
A few notes on availability. I am currently out of Chaga powder but have plenty of the small chunks on hand. There is no difference between the powder and the chunks aside from preference. They are used the same.
I am also limiting orders to 2 lbs of Chaga at a time, this is to make it available to more people, demand has increased and I am working to keep up. My supply of tinctures is looking good as well as teabags.
I am currently out of dried Turkey Tail jars, I do have the teabags and tinctures of Turkey Tail.
I want to remind people that shipping is ongoing but has slowed down in some places, there may be delays in receiving your product. I will send tracking numbers on all orders. I have not had anyone not receive their orders but have had some get them a day or two late. I had one customer have to pick up their order at the post office as they wouldn’t deliver to their apartment complex. Please keep that in mind. I am grateful to the post office for doing the job they do and providing the service they do in keeping us connected.
You may receive communications and emails, phone calls, etc from my partner Jill Phoenix, she has been helping me quite a bit with staying organized and keeping the flow going.
Lastly my walks/tours have been postponed for now, I was hoping to begin walks in April but that may be delayed some. Unfortunately the Leaf festival has been moved to fall, the Floyd Herb fest is rescheduling and other events I was hoping and excited to be a part of are all changing dates. I will keep everyone informed with updates as to when my walks/tours will resume. I HOPE by summer when all the good mushrooms will be out!
As a reminder many people are overlooking the other immune boosters I offer such as Reishi, Turkey Tail, Maitake, Lions Mane and Usnea. All of these provide support to the respiratory system and help keep us healthy. I have various links on this page with information on each.
I really appreciate all of you!! I truly love the customers I interact with and sometimes never get to meet. I feel good about the work I do and it only drives my passion more. I can’t say enough about Chaga, Reishi, Turkey Tail, Maitake and others that help keep us healthy and strong. Now more than ever these kinds of natural medicines are so important in our fight against illness such as this terrible virus. I have been spending some more time than usual out foraging in many regions around the Appalachians making sure I have Chaga and other mushrooms in stock. If I or Jill don’t get get back to you right away, that’s why, but rest assured we will return your communication. Again let me say Thank you….
It’s hard to imagine that winter is on it’s way out with snow on the ground, but it is!
*****THIS EVENT HAS BEEN POSTPONED*******This month will see my first presentation happen on March 29th, a Sunday from 1-3pm. It will be at Mountain Sage Wellness Shop in Hendersonville. I really love herb shops and this one is wonderful. I will be talking about the top medicinal mushrooms I work with, Chaga, Reishi, Turkey Tail and Lions Mane. I will also have Chaga tea samples and a tincture tasting of my Four Of A Kind Blend. The event will be $10, tickets are available here, click Book Now.
I hope to do many more presentations and workshops this year. March is my last month to stock my inventory before the tail gate market season begins. This year I’m vending at East Asheville, Black Mountain, Burnsville and adding Weaverville. I am also stocking up for a great event happening in April called the Floyd herb fest. The fest is in Floyd, Virginia, and looks like a whole lot of health in one place. They will have over 70 vendors , classes, workshops, nature walks, parades for kids, drum circles, music, yoga and more! I’m pretty excited to be a part of this.
This time of year, as winter winds down, I really start to get excited for spring plants and flowers to start budding and for the early mushrooms such as Morels and Fawns. This winter allowed me to forage quite a bit and the forest was good to me, I found more than enough Chaga, leaving quite a bit behind for future hunts, others and the natural cycles of nature. I also had time to work on fine tuning and organizing my business, I am not a business minded person by any means, so this was necessary.
I wanted to take a minute to describe the process that goes into getting Chaga ready for product making, forest to friends I call it. First naturally is finding the Chaga in the wild. Hunting Chaga can be a tough task, often roaming off trail to get deep in the forest. Once spotted it often takes a good deal of work to get it out of the tree, as well as leaving 30-50% to regrow. Next comes the smashing, I use a big mallet and spend many hours breaking it into small pieces, removing bark and shifting out dirt, leaves and anything else mixed in. Then comes drying. Chaga can absorb quite a bit of moisture. I prefer drying it in the sun but sometimes use a dehydrator when necessary. After it’s dry, I spend time filling tea bags and creating tinctures. All in all the whole process takes weeks and everything is done by hand, by only myself, no fancy machines, just the old fashioned process, the way native cultures did. I put much time and love into each forage and product. It won’t be long now until my walks and the markets begin again, stay tuned.
Many times along the way I have encountered people who have asked me, “how sustainable is it to harvest Chaga?” I’ve heard some debate on this issue in various conversations, forums, posts and groups. That’s an important conversation and a worthy concern. Chaga is a sacred medicine, to say first, it is an unusual growth on a very medicinal tree, the combination or relationship is very special. I, myself, believe in this, give gratitude when I find it and approach my business the same way. As a forger, wild crafter, herbalist, or what ever title you give it, those of us that gather herbs, mushrooms and plants and make medicine and other products, should all be as responsible and sustainable as we can. Chaga and other medicinal mushrooms should not be looked at as a novelty or trend or used as such. I see that in marketing and bigger companies selling it in ways that don’t bring the customer the proper benefits, though it is sold as if it does. To explain better, Chaga should be slow brewed, for several hours. There are many, many videos online of different methods people use, some quite interesting and I recommend watching some. Some products I have seen show quick steeps of minutes and adding it to coffee grounds, also a fast method. I can see some benefit obviously getting out but surely not it’s full potential. These end up being mass produced and kind of a waste of this precious resource. I believe in individuals that have the proper practices and harvesting techniques. They can provide for their local communities, if not in one of those communities I recommend researching if the company you get your Chaga from is sustainable. There are many people in a community that physically can’t or don’t have time or lack the skill to gather their own medicine. Small forgers like myself help them get what they need. There are only a few places in our country where Chaga grows and within those places there is vast untouched, unseen forest. To try and guess how much of that forest contains Chaga is just not possible, without first hand knowledge. When it comes to bigger companies, they seem to be in Chaga rich environments such as Maine, Canada, Siberia, Russia, parts of Europe and Alaska. The Blue Ridge Mountains are a rich environment as well. As long as I have been in Asheville, I have only met a hand full of people who harvest Chaga, even though I see where others, unseen have left their marks out in the forest. That being said, I feel Chaga is not in danger in our region at all. Chaga grows really well in some of our State and National parks here and all of that is protected by law.
So when I say I do sustainable harvest, I mean I practice the method of leaving 30-50% to regrow, and it regrows! I can say I have seen this happen several times. I travel around often on private property that has given me permission. I don’t forage in State parks or Federal areas. Chaga only grows in our high elevations in areas that are predominantly Birch and Pine forests. I have traveled to upstate NY, Eastern Canada and Maine to forage and study and though each area had different elevations and ecosystems, our region is similar in how well it grows in abundance. I would be curious to see any studies done, by who and what the results were. People believe that it is not abundant in our region, judging from small areas that are popular and where people use careless methods. I have seen where people dug into the tree or took very small, still growing pieces. I have seen where areas that have multiple trees full of Chaga, hot spots I call them, have been stripped and all of it taken. I believe in leaving a good percentage growing wild, untouched. I have been doing my work on a small scale for over 10 years and have witnessed the regrowth of several pieces I once collected, it regenerates itself until the tree finally dies! That to me is amazing and the definition of a sustainable resource. I have seen its abundance over the years on countless hikes in different areas, I study these trends as well as foraging. I often get deep in the forest, off trail and see so much growing, it’s a magical sight, I doubt anyone is keeping count on that. We are in an ancient forest, peoples long before us gathered Chaga and used it for medicine, it is here for us to use. i have seen examples of Chaga that molded, fell off the tree and went unused completely, that is certainly part of the natural system of the forest and is needed but also it is medicine gone unused. I also have worked with other Chaga foragers to learn the best methods to keep it sustainable. I do see bigger companies that over harvest and also I have heard and believe logging and development to be the two biggest dangers to wiping out resources such as Chaga.
There is also the science component to the debate. Some say it hasn’t been tested enough, and there is no clinical human tests. I disagree with that statement. There has been testing done in other countries by established researchers and great results shown. Besides that, peoples in Eastern Europe, Canada, Japan and in Chinese medicine, have been using medicinal mushrooms such as Chaga, Reishi and Turkey Tail for centuries! That seems enough proof for me. I do know that over the years of doing this and talking with people that use Chaga and other mushrooms daily, weekly and continue to come back with details on how they feel better, that is also proof to me. There are people all around us that have weak immune systems, have arthritis, cancers, nerve problems, kidney, liver, stomach problems, depression , and the list goes on, these people can be benefiting from these wild medicines. They can improve those conditions without pharmaceuticals that have lasting effects, while supporting local small business.
I am a very small little business and don’t just sell Chaga, that’s a portion of my offerings, I sell equal or more of Reishi, Lions Mane, and Turkey Tail products. All these have important healing properties that benefit many people. I believe also in teaching others, I learned from many people, and it is tradition to hand on our knowledge, not hoard it to ourselves or keep it secret simply for profit. I teach people how to identify, gather, and make their own food and medicine. There truly is enough for everyone. It’s important to keep the practice of wild crafting to a healthy minimum and only harvest what is needed and used properly. I don’t see Chaga going into danger in our region in our lifetime, there’s way too much wild, unexplored areas. It was here long before us and will be here long after we are gone. That’s why I teach my son, in hopes he to will pass that knowledge on, as has always been done. In short, Chaga is a special resource, it should be carefully harvested, and regarded as a treasure. It should also be respected for it’s medicinal properties and healing elements. One last part to mention is that Chaga is an extremely slow grower, taking 3-5 years to reach maturity and can grow for up to 20 years. I have not found any research on how it spreads, though I see various patterns in the forest. Keeping in mind that it does take time to grow and regrow, is all the more reason to treat it with the utmost respect. It’s important to keep an eye on plants that are over harvested and put in place the correct protections. Mushrooms in general are amazingly resilient, they have the ability to reproduce, regenerate and survive, Chaga, though not an actual mushroom but rather a mycelium mass, is just the same. And that’s my take, respectfully, on this issue. Thanks for reading.