Published 12:32 pm Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Any new garden and nature related venture in my neighborhood always excites me. Especially when it is intertwined with food.

Growing, preparing and consuming gourmet food is in the top ten of my favorite pass times. Within the past five years I have narrowed my personal preferences regarding food. I do my best to make sure it is local, clean (no pesticides or chemicals), organically or wild grown and prepared with minimal procaessing. To know who, where and how the food you eat was grown, is the only way to ensure you are consuming the highest quality and most nutritious food according to your own standards.

Recently I had the pleasure of wildcrafting (the gathering of fungi from the wild) with an expert in the field Mr. Eugene Hudders. He has many years of experience and is certified to forage, grow and sell wild mushrooms.

Before meeting Mr. Hudders I would admire wild mushrooms while ambling through the woods, or on occasion finding them in my yard. Often I am inclined to take photos of them, many photos in fact. Wild mushrooms hold a certain mysterious allure for me. The fact that they range in size from the tiniest fragile specimens, smaller than a paperclip, to the ones larger than a hen, with colors and shapes so varied there are too many to mention. Never would I have had the courage to touch them, let alone consume one.

During our wildcrafting expedition I was simply amazed at the number of different mushroom species we found. I was also in awe of Mr. Hudders indepth knowledge and ability to spot and identify the magnificently camouflaged specimens on the trees and on the ground, in the fallen leaf cover and amongst the fallen logs and branches. Most of the mushrooms we encountered were not of the edible variety. We did however happen upon an edible black trumpet colony that had unfortunately past its prime, it was immensely interesting non-the less.

We hiked through the woods, crossed grassy fields, climbed hillsides, waded down stream beds and marveled at the steep gorge like embankments. All the while my fascination with and admiration for wild fungus grew.

I learned that the fungus is all around us and is usually not noticed until a bloom happens and fruit is produced. When you are consuming a mushroom you are consuming the fruit of the particular fungus that has bloomed. Fungus is in a kingdom of its own, apart from plants and animals. I like the word “Kingdom” it so aptly applies to the wildly varied world of fungus.

Which brings me back to the exciting new venture I mentioned. Mr Hudders has turned his passion into a career. He has collaborated with Crickets Cove Farm & Forge in Victoria and has launched his company Foraged Kingdom. He will be cultivating and foraging mushrooms on one of the best sustainable, certified organic, bio-dynamic properties right here in Lunenburg county. He plans to sell them to restaurants and at farmers markets. They will also be available to purchase from Twigs and Berries in Kenbridge.

I am looking forward to some delicious culinary delights from the Foraged Kingdom Company.

Dawn Conrad is a columnist for the K-V Dispatch. She can be reached at conrad.gardenmuse@gmail.com or fb.me/conrad.gardenmuse.