ASHEVILLE NC – Unlike many agricultural areas in the country, Western North Carolina is home to prime farmland and another important resource: forests. Area forests provide just the right habitat for mushrooms and other distinctive foods to thrive. Much of the area’s forestland is owned and managed by farmers, but it is also utilized by skilled, responsible foragers. ASAP highlights both cultivated and wild local mushrooms in their Get Local initiative this month.
Greg Carter of Deep Woods Mushrooms, who sells his crop at four area farmers tailgate markets and to nearly every restaurant in the Hendersonville area, says he’ll definitely have shiitake and oyster mushrooms this June. He also often forages for chanterelles and chicken of the woods.
“June should be peak season for chanterelles and chicken of the woods,” shares Alan Muskat, a renowned local mushroom and wild foods expert. Muskat and other experienced foragers, like Carter, will bring wild mushrooms to area tailgates and sell them to area Appalachian Grown™ partner restaurants throughout the month and into summer and fall.
For those interested in learning about foraging and indentifying edible wild mushrooms—which both experts stress is not a subject to be taken lightly—Muskat is leading a special workshop in conjunction with ASAP’s Get Local initiative. The event, Stalking the Wild Mushroom, will be held June 16 from 2:30 until 5:30 pm at Highland Lake Cove in Flat Rock. Attendees will learn how to safely find and identify morels, chanterelles, and chicken of the woods. That evening, participants are invited to bring their foraged mushrooms back to Asheville’s Zambra restaurant; chefs will incorporate the day’s finds at no extra charge. Tickets are $40 per person. To register or for more information, visit notastelikehome.org and fromhere.org.
To find a complete list of area farmers cultivating mushrooms, as well grocers and tailgates stocking their products, search ASAP’s online Local Food Guide at appalachiangrown.org. There, also find more restaurants getting local and serving mushrooms this month and beyond.
ABOUT ASAP (APPALACHIAN SUSTAINABLE AGRICULTURE PROJECT)
ASAP’s mission is to help local farms thrive, link farmers to markets and supporters, and build healthy communities through connections to local food. To learn more about ASAP’s work, visit asapconnections.org, or call (828) 236-1282.