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Learn about fungi at Mushroom Mountain

Underside of oyster mushrooms (Pleurotus ostreatus) showing gills

EASLEY, S.C. – Did you know September is National Mushroom Month? The Livin’ Upstate crew visited Mushroom Mountain, located in Easley, South Carolina, to learn more about fungi.

Owner Olga Katic showed us around the farm and the mushroom trail, teaching us about the different types of mushrooms.

“Mushrooms are not to be feared, they play a very important part of the earth’s ecology,” Katic explained. “They are food, they are recyclers, they are medicine, and they have the ability to clean up devastated environments.”

Mushroom Mountain first began in 1996 as a concept for “a farm of the future,” according to its Facebook page. Katic, along with Tradd Cotter, created a world-class laboratory and research facility for cultivation, mycoremediation and medical research projects. Their 50,000-square-foot facility houses more than 200 species of fungi.

Today, Mushroom Mountain offers tours and workshops for those who are interested in learning about wild mushroom foraging, cooking, cultivating, medicinal properties and the mushroom world in general. During tours, visitors learn about the life cycles and ecology of fungi.

“Most mushrooms out there in the wild are actually edible. Maybe like one or two percent are deadly,” Katic said. “They come in a complete rainbow of colors and you’re not going to be able to know if its edible just by color. You have to make sure you ID it properly. There are books you can learn from.”

Katic added you should not eat any mushrooms you find unless you can properly identified them.

“If you want to take a class on mushroom hunting, the best thing to do is to join a local mushroom club. Our mushroom club, we call ourselves the SCUMS (South Carolina Upstate Mycological Society). We’re in Clemson, South Carolina. We’re online, and you can also find us on social media,” she explained. “Come and join us! We go out in the woods, and we ID mushrooms together. It’s a lot of fun.”

     

(Credit: Mushroom Mountain)

We asked Olga to explain some of the health benefits of mushrooms.

“Mushrooms contain selenium. They contain beta glucans, which is a fiber that helps lower bad cholesterol. They are very low in calories. They are rich in protein and fiber, and they are also very low in fat. They’re super nutritious. A lot of them are very meaty, so they can replace meat in our diets,” she said.

“They are a very sustainable type of food because you can grow them on so many different agricultural wastes, [such as] wood, sawdust and cornhusks.”

We also asked how fungi impacts the ecosystem.

“Mushrooms are recyclers. They break things down. If it wasn’t for mushrooms, we would have piles and piles of woody debris everywhere around us,” Katic explained. “They use wood as food, so it’s a good relationship. They’re an integral part of our ecosystem. And by breaking things down, they also produce mushroom food for us. They also have relationships with plants where they can unlock different nutrients for plants out of the soil and then you get bigger plants and better fruit.”

Mushroom Mountain also offers the following educational classes and workshops:

If you are unable to visit the farm, you can purchase dried mushrooms, extracts, tinctures, fruiting kits, spawns, books and more through mushroommountain.com.

Mushroom Mountain also hosts free Full Moon & Mushroom Pizzas potluck events. Guests are asked to bring a shareable pizza to be cooked in the pizza oven made of mushrooms.

For more information about Mushroom Mountain or to book a tour, you can click here, email sporeprints@gmail.com or call (864) 859-3080. You can also follow them on Facebook and Instagram.

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