Fred and Natascha are advocates for the mushroom world…as if the mushrooms aren’t shouting loud enough with their awe inspiring shapes and forms and often brilliant colourings, these wonderful folk are bringing the message to the people. We are thrilled to be at their yearly Mushroom Conference in November and join them in celebrating all things fungal…
The UK Medicinal Mushrooms Conference was born under a tent, in a field at the Green Gathering festival in 2013. My partner Natascha and I had just given a talk to the festival audience and it was standing room only, the questions just kept coming. We didn’t have answers to all of the questions (and probably never will) but what we realised was that people were desperate to hear what the mushroom-nation was trying to tell us and what was needed was an interface… a safe space where people and mushrooms could meet and explore their possibilities together as future partners in a conscious relationship.
Natascha said to me… “This needs to be bigger, people want to know, the mushrooms are speaking to them. Maybe we should host a conference?” and it was from that moment of conception that 21 months later (after several more festival slots) the UK Medicinal Mushrooms Conference was born.
The first event was held in Susworth, Lincolnshire, at a beautiful venue run as a business by Tasch’s Mum. We were scared of getting the carpets dirty but it was a really wonderful setting for the first conference, and nearby was the most enchanting of woodlands where Roger Phillips (of Mushrooms & Other Fungi of Britain and Europe fame) led an enthralled crowd through the process of Mushroom Identification. Roger kindly became the patron of the conference and things were set never to be the same again… we had already filled the venue to the seams and knew that we needed somewhere bigger for next year!
The past 4 years have seen some truly great and often very entertaining presentations by leading speakers in the fields of medical herbalism, anthropology, Chinese medicine, ecology, biochemistry, mushroom farming, mycology, permaculture and land remediation. We saw how we were not alone and that others too were weaving a vision where we could work with the mushrooms together to create a better place for all of earth’s creatures to share, to restore the balance of nature to land and life. We heard incredible stories of how mushrooms had helped people to live well with AIDS, how mushrooms had cleaned ground-water supplies, how mushrooms could absorb gamma rays and may have originated in space, how mushrooms manufacture vitamin D in their skins when exposed to sunlight, how the ancients venerated mushroom ancestors, how the mushrooms may help us to survive in a future with antibiotic resistant diseases, heavy metal contamination and failing crops, how mushrooms could restore deeply damaged soils, how mushroom compounds communicate directly with our own immune systems and how fungi in the gut microbiome partner in relationships with gut bacteria to facilitate digestion and nutrient production, and in doing so reduce inflammation in the body. We learned from a genetic biochemist that the fungi, like us, produce different chemistry and behave differently depending on what they feed on, and that by chemically altering the earth’s soil, water and atmosphere we may also be affecting them by causing them to switch genes on and off, altering the very relationships that support life on earth in as yet unknown ways.
Fungi are our unseen partners. Their mycelium and their single celled variants are designed to occupy every surface and every biological niche on planet earth. They are found in the bottom of the ocean and a single living plant leaf may be home to 200 species of single-celled fungi. They created the first soils on planet earth and ALL animal life is descended from them; from one single proto-fungal ancestor. Like animals they produce neurotransmitters, glycoproteins, vitamins, alkaloids, sterols, all of which are immediately recognised by the human body. We are much more closely related to the fungi than the plant kingdom and without the fungi the nutrient cycle would be broken, there would be no land plants. Fungi break down the big molecules of life, the large organic compounds like proteins and carbohydrates, liberating soluble plant foods, nitrogen, potassium, phosphorus, magnesium and so forth back into the food chain in a bioavailable form. Without them life on earth would be irrevocably broken!
SO with all this in mind, myself, Fred Gillam, and my partner, Natascha Kenyon, cordially invite you all to join us at the 5th UK Medicinal Mushrooms Conference to be held at Stanton Fitzwarren in Wiltshire on the 9th & 10th of November 2019.
This year we will be hearing about the trials of psilocybin in alleviating depression carried out at Imperial College London and the use of psilocybin mushrooms among the indigenous peoples of Mexico. We will be exploring the medicinal and mythological world of the fly agaric mushroom, we will be listening to translations of ancient Chinese medical texts and hearing about one western herbal medicine practitioner’s experiences with the Chinese mushroom of immortality – the red reishi, we will be coming to grips with the medicinal compounds found in medicinal mushrooms and of course we will be out identifying the mushrooms themselves in the forest with a team of field mycologists led by none other than Roger Phillips! There will be a mini-market where you can buy dried mushroom supplies, signed mushroom books, mushroom related goods, mushroom grow kits and mushroom art.
The UK Medicinal Mushrooms Conference is an independent conference so one thing you will not see is manufactured mushroom products like commercial mushroom extracts or drugs made from mushrooms. We do not receive sponsorship from the commercial sector and are proud of our independent voice.
Full details of the conference can be found here…
For bookings, please email Natascha… firstname.lastname@example.org
We hope to see you there!