@noffle, massive challenges indeed. No, I'm no longer working in conservation. I came to the project as an environmental anthropologist, having written my master's dissertation on plant-human relations in the region. I worked for a tiny NGO whose diverse work loosely falls under a theme of 'informality' (their initial work with herbalists was on understanding the role of wild resources in the informal economy). It was a cracking place to work, primarily because of the people, but I left at the end of 2015 to travel in South America and volunteer at permaculture farms. I felt I needed to transition from desk work (writing proposals and reports, managing the project, having meetings etc.) to earth work (growing plants and mushrooms, learning sustainable building techniques etc.). So far, so good :)
I actually only started mushroom foraging a few months ago. I began cultivating the little dudes back in 2009 and my passion and engagement have only deepened since then. To answer your question more directly, I spent many, many days in the forests near where I live, looking for mushrooms and slowly learning to identify them from books & the internet. It is a process that has taken roughly three years. The foraging here is made fairly simple due to the fact that most of the edible species are mycorrhizal and therefore only grow in close proximity to pine trees. Plus, the edibles look nothing like the species you'd wish to avoid eating.
My advice for anyone wishing to learn or start mushroom foraging would be to connect with a forager in your area and join them on a foray. They will know the edible species, along with the poisonous ones to look out for. For the most part, foraging psychoactive species is more likely to land you in (biological) trouble than other edibles - primarily because there are some lookalikes that are deadly poisonous (for example, Galerina sp.). As the saying goes: There are old mycologists, and there are bold mycologists, but there are very few old, bold mycologists ;)
Otherwise, there are relatively few poisonous species and I'd say that most of the edibles are very distinctive in appearance. If you don't know any foragers and don't have a mycological society in your area, then books and the internet are your best bet. Learn to make spore prints, along with a little taxonomy, and you'll be on your way.
Linux. Updated my locale and ntp settings. Looks like I'm back in the present :)
Well, working on the project was an incredible experience, though not without challenges and difficulties. It was frustrating at times to see how slow governments are to act - even when presented with win-win solutions to problems they face. I also learned the hard way that plant conservation projects are bloody difficult to win funding for. The project also raised a lot of questions for me regarding 'development', power dynamics rendered through NGOs and their funding partners, what real grassroots organisation can be etc. etc.
In our situation, herbalists are harvesting from Protected Areas largely in and around urban areas. Therefore, conservation officials take a blanket 'harvesting is not allowed' approach without much direct data on plant populations, harvester activities etc. All of this is complexified by the informal, decentralized nature of harvesters and their activities, historical (and ongoing) racism, identity politics etc. Harvesters have been pushing for official permits for years and years without success. Rich white people can decimate habitat through agriculture and property development but poor brown get put in jail for picking a few plants. It's all a bit of a mess to be honest.
I can't think of any projects relevant to Dd off the top of my head but I'll certainly give it some thought.
Kudos to you for your primitive skills self-development project :) I've found that getting out of my head and into environments which offer dense, novel multi-sensory experiences is crucial to my overall health. Lately, mushroom foraging has been fulfilling that role for me - along with runs on the beach.
I too find cardamom coffee to be delicious. I have a friend who crushes a couple whole pods and puts them in her mocha pot. Way too tasty!
I'm also a french press guy, though I'm not too proud to rock the cowboy coffee when I have to. I've never tried chemex...perhaps some day soon.
Thanks @noffle !
Wow, awesome that you're involved with Digital Democracy! I seem to recall coming across their work a few years ago. I was working on a medicinal plant conservation project at the time and felt that participatory resource mapping could be of great value in the local context (ie. conflict between formal conservation bodies and plant-harvesters, lack of recognition of indigenous resource users, contradictory opinions concerning plant habitat ranges etc.).
friendpm and hyperpad both look great. I'll convince a couple friends to trial hyperpad with me :)
Knowing even a little about knots is super useful! I witnessed that firsthand when working on a couple farms. The survival class sounds pretty sick! I have a few friends in the States who've had amazing experiences at primitive skills gatherings. Is your interest quite new or have you been practicing such things for a while?
Yeah the artwork is by Moebius. Good eye! It's a notebook I purchased while in Valparaiso.
Could you recommend a good resource to understand more about flume queries? My understanding of the technology underlying ssb is elementary at best.
I completed the Video Streaming project. Super simple and with some fun applications:
What is everyone working on at the moment? Learn anything new recently? Is there a new project you're looking forward to?
I'm currently working on a Flask web application that links to a couple Python scripts. Everything runs on a Pi. The scripts are responsible for polling a custom hardware unit via Modbus, receiving the data, updating a database and running value tests. This represents my first real Python project and it has been one sharp and exhilarating learning curve!
I plan to begin a 'Video Streaming with Flask' tutorial project next.
Looking forward to hearing back!
Massive storm incoming: predictions have winds hitting 61km/h (33kt) with gusts up to 125km/h (68kt). Waves predicted to reach 8.8m ... crickey 0_0
Welcome Max! It'll get less confusing in a little while ;)
It definitely seems like you have to be incredibly careful about making health claims when marketing a product in the United States. I see most similar products being sold as food supplements in the USA, along with the obligatory "*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease."
While the existing body of research into medicinal mushrooms supports the claims we make, there's still a long way to go in terms of placebo-controlled, double-blind studies into the medicinal effects of mushrooms. Much of the research from Asia has been conducted on isolated molecules, as opposed to the whole fruit body or mycelium.
For now, we're a tiny 2-man outfit trying to bring affordable, top-quality mushroom extracts to our friends and family. The bigger goal is to serve as educators regarding fungi and their myriad potential roles in humyn societies. I'm most excited about urban food production, remediation of common waste streams (cardboard, coffee grounds, agricultural waste of all sorts) and the filtration of water.
Is there much of a mushroom culture in NZ that you know of?
Who knew it could be so hard to get a design printed 'just right'?! Second revision of our supplement labels and we had to use plain white paper as a makeshift backing so that the red ink would be visible. The printer could have communicated this fact ahead of time and saved us a lot of money and time. For now, I'm practicing patience and I know the next time we'll have them perfect #workinprogress
I went #foraging in the forest with a couple friends this past week. We found many boletes (porcini) and a couple pine rings (Lactarius deliciosus). Below is a photo of a near-perfect bolete. We left it to grow bigger and (hopefully) become the highlight of another forager's day.
Wow, those giant mushrooms from Zambia sound incredible, as do the grasshoppers and ants! I have some friends down here who are into entomophagy. They're always experimenting with different insects and different methods of preparation. The Food and Agriculture Organisation of the UN released a report a couple years ago promoting the widespread consumption of insects to improve nutrition and reduce the ecological damage associated with meat production. I think it makes a lot of sense, particularly in urban contexts.
We have some pine forests nearby in which we find a few species of edible mushrooms. I've only started foraging recently but I can heartily recommend it as a means of connecting more deeply with non-humyn species! Not to mention, the little dudes are just delicious
Finally figured out that an LCD-display script was the cause of my serial input errors on RPi3. I couldn't understand why Modbus TXD was successful but not RXD. Looks like I'll have to rethink the LCD code to avoid conflicts #raspberrypi
Nvm, found what I was looking for over in the noobsquestions channel.
Zambia huh? Then you understand my pain firsthand
Great to hear you're enjoying some warmth! Yes, Cape Town has been hovering in the low to mid-twenties lately and dropping to the low-teens during the nights. It get quite a bit colder here in Winter compared to the East Coast where I grew up. We're currently experiencing a severe drought. If we don't get heavy rains soon the city could be in real trouble. We had some light showers a couple days ago so I'll head into the forest tomorrow to see if I can find any edible wild mushrooms
Quick noob question: is there a method for updating patchwork via commandline?
Haha thanks kas! Internet connectivity in South Africa is never guaranteed. That's what happens when your telecommunications infrastructure is monopolised. Glad to be back and hopefully I'll have more time to interact in the weeks ahead How are you? Moving into Summer now, yeah?
Internet has been down for the past 24 hours; not exactly convenient when you're trying to troubleshoot modbus comms failures on the other side of the planet. I should be alright as long as it's back before Monday morning.
I found a little cottage to live in for the next 6 months. The rent is a little steep but at least I'm far from the madness of the city and super close to the beach. I've been for a swim almost every day for the past two weeks. My friend taught me a new breathing technique and I've found it highly beneficial when it comes to breathing smoothly in cold water. I'm happy to be exercising more and will endeavour to run on the beach at least week times a week.
I feel a bit stressed about money at the moment. You'd think after roughly 10 years of living month-to-month that I'd be used to it. If I can wrap-up this software project in the next two weeks then I'll be fine for the next three months or so. That'll give me enough time to organise some fungi talks and workshops, complete the new website and push hard to generate sales. It would be awesome if my latest client decides to move ahead with some other projects! I'm tired of constantly having to worry about money. I guess that's part of the problem of being driven by your interests and having those interests change every few years. Income and opportunities often seem to be related to time investment and experience. Don't get me wrong, I love having multiple interests and change over time, but sometimes I look at my friends with their status quo career paths and financial security and feel a bit envious. I also need to remind myself that I'm in a period of transition and the turbulence should relent with time. For now I need to remain dedicated to my craft and actively work to generate opportunities.
I got my cultivation setup back from a friend and have taken some King Oyster transfers on cardboard. The cultures have been dormant for a while but I'm fairly sure I can coax them back into life. It's crazy what people are charging for oyster mushrooms out here! I'm keen to produce enough for myself and a few friends. The remainder can be sold cheaply to finance the acquisition of more cultures. Once I get my hands on a Reishi and Lion's Mane cultures I'll really be able to get some solid work done. Medicinal mushroom products are far more abundant here compared to when I left two years ago but I see that the absence of knowledge remains. Education is key to expanding the appreciation and utilisation of mushrooms for food and medicine.
Time for tea. Will update cultivation progress at a later day.
I've enjoyed a delightfully laid-back return to Cape Town, having found myself living in a hempcrete house overlooking the Atlantic Ocean. A few opportunities have already cropped-up concerning work, living and cultivation space. It seems the city is abuzz with young people engaging in inspiring and creative practice. Collaborations on the horizon include medicinal mushroom beer, kombucha & honey, along with mushroom-dyed hemp clothing. I'm trying not to get impatient while I wait for the dust to settle.
Another short wait, this time in Frankfurt. I just received a copy of Organic Mushroom Farming and Mycoremediation (that might not be the exact title...can't quite recall) by Tradd Cotter. I was hoping for a little more original content than he delivered but there are some gems in the book. For example, he outlines a chicken coup design constructed atop a bed of wood chips, spawned with king stropharia mycelium. The mycelium expands through the wood chips and captures the run-off, remediating the waste in the process. This is particularly effective for destroying E. coli and managing the unwanted smells associated with keeping chickens. The coup is moved on a yearly basis and the wood chips decompose into rich soil.
Beyond that, I've enjoyed learning more about constructing a simple prototype mycofilter, along with some information covering fungal metabolites and low-tech / no-tech cultivation methods.
I'd recommend the book for beginners in the practice of #mycology - whether you're looking to grow oyster mushrooms on your used coffee grounds or hoping to weave mycelium through your outdoor landscapes. It's a little odd, given his enthusiasm concerning low-tech methods, that he doesn't deal with liquid culturing (of the water + carbohydrate variety). Those with many years of cultivation experience may not be richly rewarded, but you're likely to pick up at least one or two new techniques.
I'm still waiting to get my hands on a copy of Radical Mycology by Peter McCoy ($40 book, $60 shipping!). If any Scuttlers are heading to Cape Town from the USA in the next 6 months, please let me know!
I'm waiting for a flight to Cape Town, so I figured I'd do some offline Scuttlin' while I wait. The past few months have been pretty wonderful. I feel fortunate to have been able to spend quality time with my family for a few months on the trot. Much needed! I was heartened to observe our interactions and find that I have matured in my attitude and the ease with which I am able to accept my family, whereas in the past I may have become withdrawn, cold or irritated at times. It seems the older I get, the more important family connectivity becomes. I'm going to do my best to see them again within the next two years.
The next chapter is wide-open with possibility and I'm feeling very relaxed as I flow into it. I really can't wait to get on the mountain and reconnect with friends, both humyn and non-humyn. The spiral continues...
Any Cape Townians or visitors to the Cape, this be the place to coordinate meet-ups, ask for info etc.
If a boar gets into your garden, it's game over. We had a pig hit our vegetable garden one night and it's unreal how much damage she/he was able to do in such a short time! Hopefully you have a better outcome
You got it! I'm going to experiment with some more fermentation once I have my lion's mane mushroom cultivation project up-and-running.
Hey pa1ncake! I was actually just having a similar series of thoughts, except I was envisioning a pub run on a Raspberry Pi (or similar device) in an urban area. You'd have to visit that physical location to access the network, or perhaps there could be a network of these devices across the city - a kind of digital geography standing in contrast with the cloud of web connectivity we currently experience. The Pi could be discretely planted somewhere (under a bridge, for example) and would then require some sort of rechargeable power supply if not connected to mains (perhaps solar). It would be a fun way to share art, poetry or music. There really are so many cool things you could do with this sort of decentralized technology!
Please keep me updated on your ideas and actions as they progress! I think you're onto something pretty awesome