2014 Radical Mycology North American Tour
All photographs by Peter McCoy, unless noted
In August of 2014, members of the Radical Mycology Collective set out on a 3-month tour across North America to share their mycological knowledge with a over 40 different volunteer groups, non-profits, activist spaces, food justice centers, art collectives, and mycological societies. As self-educated mycologists, the tour members knew that mycology has historically been a study of the few and difficult to access for most people, despite the incredible insights and global resilience that comes from working with fungi. In collaboration with a variety of organizations, the Radical Mycology tour demonstrated that the art, science, and radical potential of working with fungi can significantly enhance all aspects of culture, politics, and life.
To see the 2014 Radical Mycology Tour’s Info Pack click here
Aug. 15-19: Telluride, CO
Kicking off at the 34th annual Telluride Mushroom Festival in beautiful SW Colorado, the tour vibes started high with a warm reception by many of the event’s presenters and attendees. Among the many incredible presentations by mycologists and authors such as Robert Rogers, Tradd Cotter, and John Holliday, Rad Myco members Mara and Peter were honored to give a talk on the imperative of a community-centric approach to mycology during the 5 days of medicinal mushrooms, forays, and mycoremediation.
Post parade party at TMF
While Mara was at the TMF, only Peter was able to continue on down the road. So, in need of help with driving and keeping things real, TMF volunteer Adam was brought onboard the Dolphin (aka Dolphie) to help hold the reigns and roadie the next 10 days through the Southwestern US.
Aug. 23: Denver, CO
From the high mountains of Telluride, the tour set out for Denver’s Living Systems Institute, an urban teaching center that works to “increase resilience by nurturing healthy relationships, creating repeating interactions, among the things in our range of influence, our habitat.” Here, the tour was joined for the evening by James Weiser of Amateur Mycology, a brilliant self-taught mycologist who shared a wealth of his incredible insights into the fungal kingdom with the crowd.
Aug. 22-23: Santa Fe & Albuquerque, NM
Next up were the arid hills outside Santa Fe, New Mexico, where the tour collaborated on a workshop with the Ampersand Sustainable Learning Center, an off the grid facility focused on developing sustainable living systems for desert climates.
Our whole approach to sustainability is about your relationship with your resources. We start with the basics: water, food, shelter, and energy. We are simply gathering, experimenting with, and demonstrating sustainable solutions for living in harmony with our bioregion.
The topic was Mushroom Cultivation for Dryland Environments and the room was packed with folks excited to learn novel means for easily growing mycelium for food and medicine and the best design principles for creating water-scarce mushroom installations. The following day, the wonderful people at La Abeja Herbs hosted two workshops in Albuquerque to a room packed with folks from across the city.
Solar dehydrator at Ampersand
Aug 25: San Antonio, TX
Into thick high summer swelter of San Antonio, TX the Dolphie descended for a stop at the SW Worker’s Union.
The Southwest Workers’ Union is an organization of low-income workers and families, community residents, and youth, united in one organizational struggle for worker rights, environmental justice and community empowerment.
Here the discussion focused on mycoremediation strategies in collaboration with local activists working to address the significant pollution issues in the city’s abandoned military sites. The following day, Adam said his farewell as Peter rolled on east to pick up W. en route to New Orleans.
Aug. 27: New Orleans, LA
Compared to the abundance of permaculture-inspired organizations and projects in Cascadia, permaculture as a practice is still getting established in the Big Easy. One of the most active permaculture groups in the city is The Urban Farmstead, which hosted the next tour stop’s 4-hour presentation on the numerous ways that fungi readily integrate into permaculture design systems. Folks in the crowd were especially excited about the skills that were shared, and as the conversations dispersed at the end of the night, we got the first taste of the excitement and sadness that comes with briefly meeting a crowd of like-minded mycophiles only to be swept away the following day onto the road of many miles.
Aug. 29-30: Tallahassee and Gainesville, FL
Skimming the bayous and inlets of the Gulf Coast, the Dolphie chugged along Interstate 10, toward a packed auditorium at the local college in Tallahassee, Florida. Here the host was the Florida Native Plant Society, whose members were thrilled to learn about Radical Mycology’s perspective on the ecological significance of plant and fungal communities. The mycological diversity in Florida was incredible, yet to our surprise we learned that there was no mycological society in the whole state! After the talk, many crowd members self organized to continue their education as the merch table got swamped. The next day our local fungophile homie, Tim, brought W. out for an early morning foray, complete with stinkhorns, giant spiders and a dead armadillo.
As we set out the next morning for Gainesville, an attendee from the night before got in touch to offer us over 300 blank shirts for screenprinting. The generous donor had noticed that we had sold out of shirts the night before and wanted to give us this donation to help fuel the efforts. SO! COOL!
That eve’s stop was at Gainesville’s Civic Media Center, a radical infoshop and community meeting space. Some of the diverse audience members had even travelled for hours to hear about the work of Radical Mycology. Needless to say, we were honored by the substrate of kindness that Florida left us growing on.
Mellow, Credit: Anonymous
Aug. 31-Sept. 1: Atlanta, GA
A late night drive through torrential rains brought us to Atlanta to hold a dual workshop organized by the Mushroom Club of Georgia, 5th Kingdom Mushrooms, and the West Atlanta Watershed Alliance (WAWA). The first workshop focused on mycopermaculture and was followed by the installation of a King Stropharia mother bed at the Urban Garden Resiliency Oasis (an urban gardening education center in West Atlanta), which will eventually grow to provide spawn to gardeners throughout the neighborhood.
King Stropharia mother patch installation at UGRO
The next day’s workshop was an ecologically-focused foray at the 26 acre Bush Mountain Nature Reserve, urban Atlanta’s largest old-growth forest, which is stewarded by WAWA.
[WAWA] is a community-based non-profit organization whose mission is to improve the quality of life within the West Atlanta Watershed by protecting, preserving and restoring our community’s natural resources. WAWA represents African American neighborhoods in Northwest and Southwest Atlanta that are most inundated with environmental stressors, but are least represented at environmental decision-making tables.
The myco-diversity was incredible in the protected watershed area; we only made it 100 feet in 3 hours! In the down time between workshops, we visited two urban farms: WAWA’s Board Treasurer Imran’s permaculture farm and 5th Kingdom, Atlanta’s gourmet mushroom farm which provides Imran with spent spawn to help build topsoil at his farm.
Stinky Squid, Pseudocolus fusiformis
5th Kingdom Mushrooms
Sept. 2-3: Asheville, NC
Creeping over the Blue Ridge Mountains, the Dolphin came to the incredibly friendly and myco-literate town of Asheville, NC. Starting in the morning with an eco-focused foray, the first night in town wrapped up with a packed room at Warren Wilson College for the tour’s central talk, Radical Mycology: Spawing Mycelial Networks. The host, Dana, was gearing up to implement numerous mycelial applications on campus: to transform cafe waste into food, to filter runoff from the campus’ composting facility, and to inoculate beetle-killed trees with local hemlock reishi. So cool.
The next night’s mycopermaculture talk was held at The Landing, an urban community focused on education and performing arts. The Landing’s resident mycologists AJ and Erica kept us up late that night with next-level cultivation conversations, while Peter cooked up liquid culture media. Before leaving town, we got a behind the scenes tour of Mushroom Central, Asheville’s fungal supply hub, spawn producer and mushroom farm.
Warren Wilson warming up
Sept. 5-6: Virginia & DC
Two quick stops brought the us to Harrisonburg, VA’s environmental justice student group E.A.R.T.H and Washington D.C.’s activist hub The Peace House before we continued on to Pennsylvania.
Sept. 7: Media & Philadelphia, PA
Here, in Media, we started to feel the fullness of the tour’s itinerary as we landed in a packed room with members of Transition Town Media seeking to learn about mushroom identification from Peter while W. played with the under-12 crowd to Put the Fun in Fungi.
Transition Town Media is a community based initiative focused on building community resilience in the face of global economic and environmental challenges that are impacting many in the Media area.
Soon after, W. led an info-packed ecologically-focused foray to a rapt audience before we dashed across town to set up for an evening performance at the historic Sedgwick Theater
Sept. 8: New York City, NY
Only in the Big Apple for one day, we decided to skip the tourist game and hold down two workshops instead. The first was at La Casita Verde, a community garden in Brooklyn, with art and technology teacher Marina Zurkow, as a part of her graduate program at New York University, the Interactive Telecommunications Program. From there we headed to a packed room at the Manhattan’s Museum of Reclaimed Urban Space (MORUS) to hold a talk on the intersections of mycology, guerilla gardening, the Occupy movement, and squatters rights.
The Museum of Reclaimed Urban Space in New York City seeks to preserve, research, archive, and exhibit the historical squats and gardens of Manhattan’s Lower East side.
That night Peter showed W. his old dumpster diving grounds where, when volunteering with the New York Freegans, Peter used to demonstrate to news crews and crowds from around the world the incredible amount of waste, pollution, and viable food that is sent to the curb every night by businesses across the city. We hit it big, salvaging among other things, over a gallon of dried mushrooms.
Sept. 9: Beacon, NY
Traveling up the Hudson River, the tour landed the next evening at the sustainable living and ecological design teaching center node.
node exists to adjust the conventional ecological dialog. In response to the modern climax ecology that has rendered lack of transparency, empowerment inequalities, and unrealized public benefit around environment, node provides an education and resources exchange platform that facilitates exploratory adaptive design aesthetically represented.
Even though the Radical Mycopermaculture workshop was the 2nd event node had hosted, the room was packed with mycophiles from across the region. Capping off the workshop, everyone made an oyster kit using fermented straw. And afterward, the majority of the crowd organized a group to pursue future cultivation projects!
Sept. 11-14: Western MA
Picking up Radical Mycology co-founder Maya in Massachusetts, the 3 of us travelled to Great Barrington to hold a lecture at the local library, where attendees brought boxes of tomatoes, chicken of the woods and jars of sauerkraut to share. The following weekend, Fungi Ally in Amherst hosted a 2-day Mushroom Cultivation & Application Course, which concluded with an edible mushroom path and a two-species, two-tiered, remediative bed designed to filter affluent from the property’s septic system. Attendants traveled from far and wide, one coming all the way from Ivory Coast!
Willie Crosby, Owner of Fungi Ally
Remediative 2-tiered mushroom terrace installation at Fungi Ally
Sept. 15 – 16: Boston & Maine
Saying goodbye to new (and old) friends and fellow cultivators, the tour continued to Boston to present a cultivation workshop and a mycology for kids teacher training at Green City Growers, an organization focused on transforming vacant lots into urban farms. For our last stop on the east coast, we went to rural Maine for a Radical Mycopermaculture workshop and outdoor bed installation at a private homestead. The Mainers picked up what we were spawning down and were inspired to start their own mycological activist group, The Mycowrench Gang.
Sept. 17: Montreal, QC
After spotting chaga from the road on a long backcountry drive and making a quick border crossing, the island city of Montreal welcomed the crew with fresh poutine and a room packed for 4 back-to-back workshops at Santropol Roulant, the city’s 20-year old food justice center.
Santropol Roulant uses food as a vehicle to break social and economic isolation between generations and cultures. Creatively and collaboratively, we strengthen and nourish our local community with our novel approaches to active youth engagement, urban food systems, food security and community care.
After leading workshops on cultivation, medicinal mushrooms, mimicking mycelium in social design, and fungal sexuality, we were swept off our feet for several days by our generous and myco-knowledgable hosts, some of whom had recently started Mycollectif, a mushroom cultivation and mycoremediation collective at Santropol Roulant. The group’s current project is to determine remediation strategies for a large city park polluted with heavy metals due to serving for years as a railyard. Among their members is the brilliant local mycologist Geoffroy of Champignons Maison.
The potent medicinal mushroom, Reishi (Ganoderma lucidum), grown on 95% coffee grounds
Sept. 21: Toronto, ON
The next stop was at, well, The Stop, Toronto’s community food center.
The Stop strives to increase access to healthy food in a manner that maintains dignity, builds health and community, and challenges inequality.
Only able to present for the afternoon, the Radical Mycology workshop was well attended with many attendees excited to learn more and add a fungal component to The Stop’s gardening and composting projects.
Niagara Falls, now its definitely a tour
Sept. 23: Rochester, NY
Crossing back stateside, the next two standing room only workshops were held at the beautifully hip mushroom farm and storefront, Smugtown Mushrooms. Our wonderful host, Olga, showed us some of the town’s more famous & secret maitake motherlodes, including a 4 a.m. foray where we saw the glow of wild Panellus stipticus. So cool.
Local Rochester Reishi strain fruiting at Smugtown Mushrooms
Phellinus gilvus, Credit: Willoughby Arevalo
Birch Polypore (Piptoporus betulinus)
Maitake (Grifola frondosa)
Sept. 25: Detroit, MI
Another long day’s drive brought the tour to the heart of Detroit to align with Earthworks Urban Farm, a 15-year old urban faming initiative with a mission to “restore our connection to the environment and community…It is a working study in social justice, as well as in being more connected to the food we eat.”
Here we taught local farmers how to grow mushrooms off their annual crop wastes for increased productivity and economic security. This was the first mushroom focused workshop in Earthworks’ history and they were excited to incorporate the Oysters-On-Coffee-Cardboard-And-Fermented-Straw techniques covered into future curricula.
Oyster grains to wet cardboard and fermented straw burritos
Sept. 27-29: Traverse City & Kalamazoo, MI
Radical Mycology Collective member Mara did her share of tour organizing but was unable to travel with the tour, so she brought it to her town. The Grand Traverse Mycological Society and Carter’s Compost helped host a 2-day Mushroom Cultivation & Application Course in Traverse City. The install, at Carter’s, established a Pearl Oyster mother bed as a part of the compost initiative designed and run by a 9 year old!
In Kalamazoo, we held a remediation focused talk with local activists in relation to the three oil spills that had occurred in the area in recent years.
A 9 year old did this!
Sept. 30: Chicago, IL & the 2014 Radical Mycology Convergence
The next day brought us to Chicago’s urban farm and education center, Earnest Earth, for a mycopermaculture presentation. That evening followed up with another presentation at the city’s maker space, CivicLab.
From here the Dolphin finned its way to rural Illinois to set up camp for nearly 2 weeks in preparation for the 3rd Radical Mycology Convergence. The RMC was a blast (!!!) and a reportback from it can be read here.
Maya on Mycopermaculture
Morning circle at the RMC, Credit: Arthur Lee
Lichen Dyes with Shay, Credit: Arthur Lee
Collections at the RMC, Credit: Arthur Lee
Oct. 17-21: Minneapolis, MN & Bozeman, MT
Saying “see you in 3 weeks” to Maya and “see you in 2 weeks” to W., Peter left across the north plains for two standing-room only workshops in Minneapolis with Twin Cities Permaculture and two packed living room workshops in Bozeman hosted by the wonderful folks at Mountain Mycoworks and Broken Ground.
Oct. 27: Seattle, WA
Skipping across the Puget Sound to Vashon Island to cover mushroom ID and cultivation with the local Grower’s Association in the afternoon, Peter jumped back to the mainland that evening to present with the Seattle Farmer’s Co-Op in the city center. Afterwords, Peter was interviewed by Sara Bernhard for this great article in Grist Magazine.
Oct. 28: Olympia, WA
Returning to Radical Mycology’s hometown, the workshop here was held at the New Moon Cooperative Café, owned and operated by members of the Black Moon Collective, an organization working to support the development of cooperative businesses in Olympia.
Oct. 29: Portland, OR
Willoughby rejoined the tour in Peter’s hometown for the final tour stretch and a workshop at Tryon Life Community Farm, a land project and non-profit focused on community-based sustainability and social change. Prior to the talk, roughly 20 volunteers joined a work party to help perform upkeep on a Mushroom Labyrinth designed and initiated months earlier by Peter and others, including Mushroom Jordan who joined in on that night’s packed-yurt presentation.
Turkey Tail (Trametes versicolor) and nettles (Urtica dioica), a beautiful medicinal combo
On the mycelial path
Oct. 31 & Nov. 1: Southern Oregon
For Samhain (Halloween), the tour stopped at the Nomenus Wolf Creek Sanctuary to give a special talk on the relationship between fungi, death, and decomposition.
Founded in 1987, Nomenus is a nonprofit religious organization whose mission is to create, preserve and manage places of spiritual and cultural sanctuary for Radical Faeries and their friends to gather in harmony with nature for renewal, growth, and shared learning. Nomenus serves a regional and national community by stewarding Wolf Creek Sanctuary as a sacred space dedicated to queer liberation and spiritual growth, and to its founding intention as a sanctuary for Radical Faerie culture and faggot spirituality.
Anise Mushroom (Clitocybe oroda)
The next day, one of the tour’s financial supporters brought us out through the mountains to Klamath Falls for a cultivation workshop at a private residence, bringing together local permaculturalists, homesteaders, and horticulturalists.
Nov. 3-4: Humboldt County, CA
Her, the tour was warmly welcomed by W.’s home community, where we went big with three events in two days. We began at The Sanctuary in Arcata with an experimental mycoremediation installation (with spawn donated by local mushroom farm Mycality Mushrooms), using test plots with Pleurotus ostreatus, mycorrhizal inoculant, both, and a control to try to degrade chemical herbicide and fertilizer in the soil.
The Sanctuary is dedicated to creative growth through the arts, encouraging people to teach, inspire and know each other.
The next day, as darkness set in, we went to visit Sierra Madre Mushrooms, one of the largest distributors of wild mushrooms in North America. There, Peter saw more mushrooms than he had ever seen in his life, and Trent sent us home with a basket full of mushrooms to clone. Very little sleep was had that night, as we set up the flow hood at W.’s dad’s house, and tissue cultured 19 strains of mushrooms, while eating 24 species, including some from that day’s harvest.
Long nights, old story
Nov. 5-8: The Bay Area
Winding down the 101 to the final days of the tour, an evening session was held at the Sebastopol Grange followed by an afternoon presentation on fungi and urban resilience at Oakland’s A PLACE for Sustainable Living.
[PLACE is] a public-serving, experiential learning center to showcase and foster sustainable living practices, urban homesteading, community resiliency & preparedness, social justice and artistic expression.
The next day Willoughby led a foray in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park before the two rejoined Maya in Santa Cruz where she led a foray on the UC Santa Cruz campus.
Whew! After 13,000 miles, hundreds of photos, thousands of mushrooms, and the formation of countless new friendships, the touring mycos returned to their homes along the west coast to hibernate for winter and reflect on the lessons of the tour’s breadth. Bringing accessible mycological knowledge and skills to a wide range of demographics, the 2014 Radical Mycology Tour highlighted the rising excitement and desire for access to open-source mycology growing across North America and the important role that Radical Mycology plays in the spawning of this grassroots mycological movement.
Following on the strong interest of many tour participants to form local Radical Mycology-inspired groups, the Radical Mycology Collective is now building the infrastructure and information databases to help further develop this movement. Stay tuned to Radicalmycology.com and join our email list for more information on how to start a group in your area and connect with others around the world. The spores have been cast.
A big THANK YOU goes out to the many supporters of the Radical Mycology Book Indiegogo campaign, who all helped make this tour possible. And a second big THANK YOU to all the organizations, volunteers, hosts, and event attendees that helped make the 2014 Radical Mycology Tour such an inspiring and empowering success. We look forward to seeing you all again!
The Radical Mycology Collective