I have to admit, I didn’t think this would happen. On a whim, and with the encouragement of some folks in my local community, I decided to teach a class for beginning wild mushroom foragers. I’ve been a “rabid” forager pretty much all my life and I’ve spent many years, scouting, hiking, scrambling over brush and logs, only to come up with…nuthin’.
Now, certainly, I have developed a great sense of where the objects of my desire are likely to be found, but it wasn’t always thus. This year, it seems so many people are looking for great classes they can take; they want to learn everything. So, I thought, let’s do a class for wanna be wild mushroom finders.
Last week, I came up with “Fungus Among Us: Tips for Turning Hunting into Gathering.” I presented it “Live” over Zoom to a group of about eight folks local to me. It was billed as “Training + Virtual Happy Hour” so everyone had their beverage of choice on hand.
I had figured it’d only be an hour class, and that was stretching it, but because there were so many good questions and it was truly interactive, we ended at just shy of 90 minutes.
What a great time I had, and it seems so did the participants. I ended up posting a notice of the class on two different mushrooming groups I belong to on Facebook, the Pacific Northwest Mushroom Identification Forum and the PNW Mushroom Foraging and Identification group.
That’s when all hell broke loose. I had SOO much demand for info, I couldn’t keep up. I originally just asked folks to PM me for info because I didn’t want there to be a huge trail of comments, but it turns out there were both. By the end of Sunday, — and I hadn’t even uploaded the video course yet! — I had more requests than I ever expected to see. There were something like 100 comments! I went to be thinking “Ok, that will have run its course by morning,” but I was so wrong.
By Monday morning, I had more Facebook message requests than I could keep up with, and more folks were asking to be added to the list. I had to scramble to come up with a solution to having to hand-respond to each person. That’s where my Brand Manager, Kait Entsminger, stepped in. She quickly got info on a good course platform to use and put all the sales info and payment info up for me. By late afternoon, I was able to turn “how do I get on the class” and hand-sending payment requests then not being able to send a link to the class because it hadn’t even uploaded yet, to “here’s the link to the class. You can self-register and help yourself anytime!” What a timesaver.
By mid-afternoon Monday, suddenly the requests stopped. The post had disappeared on the Pacific NW ID group. No explanation, no warning. No “comments have been closed for this post.” It was just GONE. Over 400 comments, many more likes and shares, and it got taken down. I’m still trying to figure out why because it didn’t violate any of the group’s policies AND it had to have been approved by a moderator/admin before it showed up on the feed, but in the meantime it is posted on other groups and I’m happy to say over 50 people have already asked for, and been given access.
And, I’ve gotten great feedback! So many people said, “Thanks for doing this,” “thanks for this info,” “oh, we’re so excited to learn more,” and I can tell you I’ll be doing another class shortly!
There’s a certain mystery and wonder everytime you go out in the forest or the hills, particularly when you are looking for something magical like a wild mushroom. The simple fact that we can go out, find something not ony edible but delectable and bring it back home and eat it is a fascinating thing. I wish that, when I was first starting out, that I’d had a resource like this. I had to learn through trial and error and gobs of terrain and miles covered, often for naught. But, it’s always a special time when you can be out in nature. I just think of foraging as a “walk in the wild with benefits.”
I hope you check out the class. If you are at all interested in learning what you can eat from the land, this is a perfect way to get started. Like I said, these are tips that will help you go from “hunting” to “gathering.” And, as time goes on, I’ll add more info on other mushrooms, how to prepare them and store them, and in Spring I’ll probably offer more foraging info, too!
Let me know what you’d like to see next!