Santa Cruz Fungus Fair 2018 🍄

I attended the Fungus Federation of Santa Cruz 2018 Fungus Fair for the first time last weekend. I highly recommend it and plan to go again.

The venue itself was noteworthy: the Louden Nelson Community Center, named after a former slave who donated his estate to the Santa Cruz school district (pdf).

The fair had a large room with several hundred labeled specimens from the Santa Cruz area, grouped by genus and/or tree they’re associated with. I was impressed by the diversity of mushrooms found on a given couple days (all were fresh, and several had started disintegrating) in a given region.

The specimen room also had an identification table staffed by several experts who could identify mushrooms brought in on the day of the fair.

The fair also had two tracks of speakers, main and “Mushrooms 101”. I spent the day attending talks in the latter.

The first talk was “Common Edible and Poisonous Mushrooms of California” presented by Noah Siegel, co-author of Mushrooms of the Redwood Coast. Notes:

The second talk was “An Introduction to Mushroom Cultivation”, presented by Justin Pierce, an officer in the Fungus Federation and member of the spawn lab team at Far West Fungi (FWF). Notes:

Next, Douglas Smith presented “The Mushrooms of Los Trancos, A Local Open Space Area” about his experience studying terrestrial mushrooms in Los Trancos open space preserve. Notes:

The last talk of the day was Alan Rockefeller’s “Mushrooms of Mexico”. Notes:

Aside from the talks, there were also several vendors selling clothes, food, kits, books, etc. I got donuts filled with Candy Cap cream and a Porcini shirt from Robyn MacLean. Oh, and there was also a kids room filled with crafts!

The fair promoted an atmosphere of curiosity, community, mutual support and unabashed appreciation of the natural world. Several of the speakers were committed citizen scientists. Inspirational.

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