N.B. mushroom lovers create official group amid 'sensational' foraging year
MycoNB Society was formed to share resources and knowledge around foraging mushrooms in the province
Mushroom lovers in New Brunswick now have an official group dedicated to learning about and celebrating all things related to the fleshy fungus.
And its formation comes as enthusiasts say the province is seeing one of the best seasons in recent years for foraging them in forests and backyards.
MycoNB Society officially received its non-profit status a few weeks ago, already has an executive team, and will be ready to accept its first members "really soon," said Jessika Gauvin, the society's president.
"The goal of the group is to spread knowledge and to give New Brunswick a framework for people who want to come together and learn about mushrooms together, and a way to access resources and a way to network with each other," Gauvin said.
Gauvin said there's been a community of enthusiasts who've been tied together mostly through a Facebook group dedicated to sharing photos and questions about mushrooms that are foraged around the province.
Gauvin said in the past two years, she saw the number of group members grow from about 2,000 to more than 10,000.
Some people get into it to expand their food sources, while others are interested in the potential medicinal benefits, Gauvin said. Others, meanwhile, just appreciate the beauty of them.
"I imagine it's a lot of people are moving towards being more connected with nature. A lot of people want to know more about the world around them and and how they can interact with it."
Stefani Serdar only started foraging this year, after moving to Aulac, N.B., from Hamilton.
She said she normally isn't a fan of going for hikes and being out in the woods, but the thrill of finding a mushroom always makes up for having to deal with the bugs.
"Somehow mushrooms have sort of allowed me to forget about the fact that there are ticks and spiders and whatnot, and they're just beautiful," said Serdar, who's the events co-ordinator for MycoNB Society.
"I mean, the colours, the sizes, the shapes, how they grow, where they grow. I mean, it's just, it's really quite fascinating."
A bumper year for mushrooms
Chris Aerni has been foraging mushrooms since he was a boy living in Switzerland, but carried the practice with him when he moved to Saint Andrews, N.B., in 2001 and opened the Rossmount Inn with his wife.
As the chef of the hotel's restaurant, Aerni spends much of his time foraging around the property for boletus and chanterelle mushrooms, which he incorporates into the meals he serves.
He's been foraging in New Brunswick for two decades.
"July had record rainfall... which resulted in that we have a mushroom crop we've never seen before or I have, in my time here in New Brunswick, I have never seen that much," Aerni said.
"It's just incredible."
Gauvin, who's foraged mushrooms her entire life, agreed that this year has been one of the best she's seen.
"It's just been insane. Not only has it been insane in terms of the amount of mushrooms that we're seeing flushing, but it's also been insane in the amount of choice edible mushrooms that we've been seeing flushing," she said.
"So some of the really amazing culinary mushrooms are flushing just in record numbers."
Gauvin said she recommends anyone who's interested in getting into foraging contact the society for information on available resources and events that might be happening near them.
She said the society plans on having representatives in each of the province's major cities, and will next year host a weekend activity to bring people together to learn about mushrooms.