By Danielle Hoskins

This September marked the 4th annual hosting of Circle Pine’s Fall Mushroom Camp. One hundred and ten mushroom enthusiasts from all over Michigan, the Midwest, and as far away as Alabama and California, gathered together to hunt for, learn about, and enjoy the amazing variety of mycelium and fruiting bodies (aka mushrooms) that the CPC property has to investigate. Mushroom Camp attendees camp in tents, campers, cabins and Swallows for the weekend while they explore workshops, guided forays, presentations and of course amazing meals.

The fall season, while long past the time of the highly sought after Michigan Morel mushroom, still holds forests filled with fantastic flushes of both edible and non-edible fungi families. Foragers at Mushroom Camp collected species such as Chicken of the Woods (Laetiporus sulphureus), Amethyst Deceivers (Laccaria amethystina), Upright Coral (Ramaria stricta), Walnut Mycena (Mycena luteopallens), Lion’s Mane (Hericium erinaceus), Wood Blewits (Lepista nuda), Red Chanterelles (Cantharellus cinnabarinus), Dryad’s Saddle (Polyporus squamosus), Shrimp of the Woods (Entoloma abortivum), and so many more that the identification table at the farmhouse was filled to overflowing.

If you know Circle Pines, then you know that the kitchen holds the magic of many events, and Mushroom Camp is no exception. Each meal featured different varieties of mushrooms in dishes such as Huitlacoche Enchiladas (Huitlacoche is corn fungus!), Black Trumpet and Portobello Coleslaw served alongside sandwiches, and a savory Hen of the Woods Marsala with chicken.

The schedule at Mushroom Camp, according to its visionary Sasha Ospina, is truly a “choose your own adventure” style affair. At any given time between meals, participants can attend one of 2-3 workshops or presentations led by experts in their field such as Mushroom Dyes, Beginner Cultivation, Tree Identification, or open forum conversations. If they would rather get moving with some direction, attendees can have hands-on experience by following along with a specialist on a guided foray, or adventure off on their own to gather specimens for the identification table and tasty snacks to cook up later. A highlight for any mycophile (n. A person who likes hunting for, cooking or eating mushrooms and other edible fungi,) is the nighttime forays where searchers use UV flashlights to illuminate bioluminescent species alongside the trails.

Circle Pines Center’s Mushroom Camp is for all fans of fungi and mindful mycophiles of any age or ability. This continues to be one of our most highly attended weekend events, and draws in an impressive amount of knowledge right from our local area. If you can’t wait to join in next fall, Circle Pines also hosts a smaller and somewhat less structured Spring Mushroom Camp each May. Whether you are just beginning to learn about foraging and mushroom identification, or a seasoned expert and sampler, there is always something more to learn at Mushroom Camp!!