“Mike is coming Sunday,” Marc told us as he headed back to his apartment. “Cool,” I said. “Looking forward to it.” Mike would be Mike Snyder of WildWise Botanicals. Marc is our oldest son who became involved in clearing an area of stumps and downed trees from a spot down by the road so we could plant a wildflower garden. That, I believe, began an interest in wild edibles. I had begun hunting wild mushrooms while Marc looked at our persimmon tree and collected pawpaws along the Meramec. A good start to an interest in wild edibles.
I have been hunting and cooking chanterelle mushrooms since I found out they wouldn’t kill me. For a long time they were just strange orange things growing in our yard. Not anymore. They are delicious. Last year was a good one out here in our woods. A bumper crop was popping out of the moss in our front yard. So pick them, clean them, put on an apron and start cooking.
That is where Mike and his WildWise Botanicals came in. Mike is an expert in all kinds of wild edibles. He raises them and teaches people about them. He lectures, gives presentations to groups, and will walk a person’s property to give them an idea of what is there and what it’s good for. Mike is the expert I have been looking for.
The day started out great. We sat on the deck for a while where Mike gave us a brief introduction to mushrooms. What kinds there are and how they grow. I graduated college with a degree in earth science so this kind of information really appealed to me. But in those classes, we didn’t get into mushrooms except to recognize that they were there. Mike laid a few samples on the table and started his “lecture.”
Before long we were off to the woods. As I have stated in the past, our house is in the middle of 15 acres of woods with moss-covered paths going everywhere. We started up the path that leads to the spot where our son Matt married Ashley a couple of years ago. Along the way Mike searched the ground, showing us places where we might find edible mushrooms next season and some that we had missed this summer.
From there we headed down the path that leads to the wildflower garden. It was there, Mike taught us about the two kinds of honey mushrooms we might find in our woods. We found a few old ones and awaited the next rain where we might find new ones popping up at the base of a dead tree. This pleased me because it extended my edible mushroom hunting, cooking, and eating into the autumn.
Mike, his wife, and daughter have a homestead of sorts near Edgar Springs, MO. There they grow all kinds of edible plants that include a mushroom garden. Their place, it seems, is like the places I dreamed about in the 1960s. Back then it was an impossible dream for me. It obviously has worked out for the Snyders and I have to say I’m a bit jealous. So I will do what I can to catch up out here in our woods.
To my surprise, Jan jumped right into the whole wild edibles and mushroom project. Before I knew what was happening Jan had ordered a kit for growing Lion’s Mane mushrooms. Supposedly they are good for memory and the brain. I guess she is trying to tell me something.
So the afternoon with Mike was a huge success. I learned more about mushrooms in a couple of hours than I had in days of reading on the internet. And got us started on a new venture. Last year it was a wildflower/butterfly garden and next year it is on to a mushroom garden. I believe this must be at least part of “the dream.”
As I stated earlier, Mike and his wife Cara reside at WildWise Botanicals LLC. He can be reached at email@example.com and by phone at 573-201-3027. If you have an interest in wild foods, especially mushrooms I encourage you to contact Mike. If you have an organization that would like a cool presentation Mike and the WildWise crew will put one on that will have everybody talking. He will have your head spinning and your eyes looking for Black trumpet mushrooms.