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What is foraging?

Foraging is in essence, the search for something necessary.

Boletus edulis. Boletes, commonly known as Porcini other words, the story of my life.

I have the absolute, deepest curiosity to explore everything that is nature. It’s been a lifelong journey, but it mostly presented itself when I was a freshman in college trying to figure out what the hell to do with my life. I hated the teaching program I was in and couldn’t manage to pull myself off the hiking trail or the ski hill that year to actually study. My grades suffered and my mom took me out to lunch one day and asked, if college was really what I wanted to be doing. It was, it’s just what I was learning about was a total bore and not something I was passionate about. After some deep soul searching I came upon the study of Geography and for the first time in my life I had straight A’s and a passion for my studies. I still loved life in the sense of being a reckless college student, but my schooling had a different feel to it. I was learning about something I was completely passionate about. The study of the surface of the Earth. I came across foraging during a year-long two part Outdoor Skills class. I immediately fell in love with the idea. I was really into nature photography at the time and photography gave me something to do while hiking. Adding foraging to the list gave me a whole other mission and challenge while on the trail.

"Foraging is in essence, the search for something necessary."
Chicken of the Woods

I grew up relying on the land. My father was a sportsman providing us with wild game meats and my mother always had a beautiful flower garden and taught us the value of our apple trees that always provided. And during our short time together my grandparents taught me everything I know about growing a successful garden. Now my father and mother carry the tradition and maintain a beautiful 2-acre garden plot that provides enough food for them and my four sisters; something I am eternally grateful for, especially living on an island that can be a food desert come February.

When it came to foraging, I started easy and worked my way through the field guides. When I really took a nack for it was during the summer I spent in Alaska, working at Independence Mine Historical Park in Hatchers Pass, in the Talkeetna Range. With little else to do I devoted myself to learning the entire Alaska's Wild Plants: A Guide to Alaska's Edible Harvest Book. Upon returning home for my last year of college I quickly realized our plants were nearly the same plants and I was able to continue my learning. I kept at it and moved onto mushrooms, which for many is the ultimate forage. For me, this was the final frontier. I had mastered the berries, the greens, the trees, the roots, and now it was time for me to master mushrooms.

It was moving to Madeline Island where I was able to really focus my energy on expanding my knowledge about wild edibles and foraging for mushrooms. The island is a rich environment that provides. If you know where to look, all the mushrooms you could ever want or need exist. In my search I have found, but not limited to this list of edible mushrooms:

Chanterelles, Black Trumpets, and Boletes

  • Chicken of the Woods

  • Bolete/Porcini

  • Black Trumpet

  • Oyster

  • Lobster

  • Hedgehog

  • Chaga

  • Lion's Mane

  • Reishi

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