Saturday, July 23, 2016

JULY "News from the Woods": Invasive species, Learn forestry & fungi, Tradd Cotter

News from the Woods
a monthly digest of resources, events, and people
in forestry & agroforestry

July 2016


Welcome to the July edition from Wellspring Forest Farm and School. Each month, we share useful information about methods for improving forest health and increasing productivity and diversity, along with the happenings of our farm and educational programs.

What a dry summer it’s been! We in fact are in severe drought, and our little town is the driest in all of New York. We’ve had a very poor year in the mushroom yard, and our sheep have been working hard for their forage.

We have gotten a lot of interest from folks in our short courses and we were hearing that many found the price and timing challenging – so we’ve responded by shortening our Forestry & Agroforestry course to be three days (August 13 – 15) and just $300.  This is a chance to learn from some of the most experienced foresters in the Northeast. See the schedule, posted below!

Our Fungi Cultivation & Foraging Short Course (September 16 – 20) will still be the full five days, as we want to accommodate the travel of the amazing and talented Tradd Cotter. This is one of the only appearances he is making in the Northeast, so don’t miss out!

Tradd was recently featured in a National Geographic video disussing the wide range of ways fungi can help solve some of the worlds most pressing challenges.

For the trees,
Steve & Elizabeth

In the Woods
As we teach and continue to learn from the woods, a common question that arises from students is, “what about invasive species?”

This is a complex and complicated issue, one that requires a multitude of approaches specific to a given place and time in the development of a forest. But, was is intriguing is that many scientists are starting to see that pesky plants and critters may achieve a balance over time, even the one many forest owners love to hate, Garlic Mustard (Alliaria petiolata):

These new discoveries encourage us to pause and take a longer view of ecological succession over time. Forest decisions happen over multiple generations, not over a few years. Its part of a much larger cycle.

A highly recommended book toward a deeper understanding of these concepts is called A New Wild by Fred Pearce, which draws upon scientific research along with many real-world examples of how the dynamics so-called “invasive” species change and find balance over time.

Part of the conversation has to do with how we construct out views of what is “natural” and “native” to the forest. With all the changes in the land that have taken place (many at the hands of humans and through climate change), there is really no “original” or “primeval” forest type we can seek to exemplify.

Instead, one might consider the concept of novel ecosystems – which better describes the composition of so many of the landscapes around the world. Novel ecosystems according to one paper are, “…a unique assemblage of biota and environmental conditions that is the direct result of intentional or unintentional alteration by humans… sufficient to cross an ecological threshold that facilitates a new ecosystem trajectory and inhibits its return to a previous trajectory regardless of additional human intervention.”

Access the full paper here:

In other words, “there ain’t no going back!” – much of invasive species talk, and forest management is considered in terms of the original species, composition, and structure of what was – instead, we might do better to look forward to what could be, as we manage forests for the future. 

On the Farm

In dealing with the incredibly dry conditions, we’ve been getting our sheep into the woods, and this month ask the question on our blog:

“40% of New York is in Drought, What do the trees have to say?”

READ the article here:

Upcoming Events

Forestry & Agroforestry Short Course
August 13 – 15
Mecklenburg, NY

3-day course - Learn forest ecology and management techniques for eastern woodlands by exploring old growth forests and visiting farms and nurseries practicing agroforestry, forest farming, and silvopasture in the Finger Lakes Region of New York.

Our instructors have spent decades studying forest & fungi ecology and developing skills to share with students through woods walks, hands-on demonstrations, and storytelling:

Steve Gabriel, co-author of Farming the Woods, will present forestry principles, tree assessment/measurements, and mushroom cultivation

Mike Demunn, renowned forester and conservationist for over thirty will lead forest walks share the ecology, history, and managing for wildlife.

Sean Dembrosky of Edible Acres nursery will teach us how to grow and maintain the next forest through tree planting, seed saving, and propagation techniques

Brett Chedzoy, extension forester and beef farmer will demonstrate methods to integrate regenerate livestock and forest management

Cost: $300 plus $50 if you wish to camp onsite, includes lunch each day.



Fungi Cultivation & Foraging Short Course
September 16 – 20
Mecklenburg, NY

With Tradd Cotter and Steve Gabriel

Sign up by Friday, August 5 for a $50 discount on tuition

Explore the wondrous world of fungi and learn how to grow and forage mushrooms with Farming the Woods co-author Steve Gabriel and special guest instructor Tradd Cotter of Mushroom Mountain and author of Organic Mushrooms Farming & Mycoremediation.

During this 5-day intensive course participants will identify wild mushrooms and learn tree ID and forest ecology, inoculate logs, straw, and grain, learn low-tech propagation techniques, build a stormwater biofilter, create a styrofoam substitute, and, of course, cook and eat mushrooms.


Featured Steward

The steward of the month is Tradd Cotter, a visionary mycologist who spends his time growing, researching, and teaching others about the wonders of fungi. Tradd is a passionate person whose love for mushrooms and enthusiasm make learning about fungi both enjoyable and accessible.

Tradd began like many mushroom growers, fascinated by the beauty and allure of fungi and interested mostly in culinary and edible uses. This started a learning journey over the last several decades where Tradd has perfected his craft in many aspects of cultivation and use, including developing new products like mushroom-infused beers, exploring the ways mushrooms can help clean our environment, and using mushrooms instead of pesticides in treating pests like fire ants.

He and his wife Olga run Mushroom Mountain, which in the past few years moved to a new facility and offers a variety of mushroom products and classes. He grows and sells edible mushrooms, mostly to help fund the research he really wants to do. He is constantly curious and playing with fungi, seeking new discoveries and new answers

Watch Tradd give a TED Talk about mushrooms:

Tradd will be the featured teacher of our Fungi Cultivation & Foraging Short Course from September 16 - 20.

Quote of the Month:

"Mushrooms are miniature pharmaceutical factories, and of the thousands of mushroom species in nature, our ancestors and modern scientists have identified several dozen that have a unique combination of talents that improve our health."

Paul Stamets


“News from the Woods” is brought to you by:

Wellspring Forest Farm & School
leaving forests in our footsteps
Steve & Elizabeth Gabriel
Mecklenburg, NY

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