Mushroom fanatics, on film

Ecotrust and Edible Portland have released a three-video series about Oregon mushroom foragers and farmers.

The Matsutake Hunter: Comb the craters of Mt. Hood with Amy Peterson, a third-generation Japanese American who hunts for matsutake mushrooms every year, armed with a homemade walking stick what ends in fork tines. She learned how to uncover these prized mushrooms with her family, hunting since her earliest memories and later, training with master matsutake forager Leke Nakashimada.

The Mushroom Farmers: Explore the cave-like chambers where friends Brian Shaw and Dan Thall grow organic cremini and portabella mushrooms. The first organic cremini farm west of the Rockies (the vast majority of U.S. brown buttons come from a single county in Pennsylvania), Hood River Organic provides local eaters with mushrooms and the Hood River Valley farming community with rich compost.

The High School Teacher: Visit the lab and forest classroom where Jeff Mauck teaches a hands-on science course on how to grow culinary mushrooms. From inoculating petri dishes full of gelatinous agar to selling king oyster mushrooms in local markets and even making their own how-to cultivate videos, these alternative high school students in Coos Bay get a range of skills through the lens of Mauck’s love for mushrooms.

The short videos were created by a collective of writers, filmmakers, and artists who are captivated by the mysterious world of mushrooms and mycelia, and the dedicated community of hunters and growers in the Pacific Northwest.

In the wet climate west of the Cascades, mushrooms are the unofficial mascot. The underground networks from which mushrooms grow—mycelia—are a key indicator of forest health, and the mushrooms themselves are a hallmark of local cuisine.

Within this landscape, many extraordinary people devote themselves to mushroom foraging and growing. They have amassed deep reserves of knowledge—often through observation, experience, and from one another—which they pass down from one generation to the next. The Oregon Mushroom Stories videos capture these passionate individuals and bring to life a sense of wonder and excitement about the mycological world—both natural and cultural—of the Pacific Northwest.

These videos follow up on a series of mushroom-related events that took place in the fall of 2012 in partnership with the Portland Institute of Contemporary Art, including a mushroom fair that featured a zoetrope animating how mushrooms grow and a dinner exploring mushroom and fungi flavor. As Oregon State University mycologist and professor Dan Luoma said, “In my experience, the whole Oregon Mushroom Stories project is unique in the way it integrates art, science, food, and social science, bridging urban/rural natural resource perspectives and understanding.”

Watch the mushroom videos

Learn about Oregon Mushroom Stories

OREGON MUSHROOM STORIES is a project of Ecotrust, Edible Portland, G. Kennedy Creative, and Belly and Bones, made possible in part by the Regional Arts and Culture Council.