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Exploring Mushroom Cultivation and Accessibility at Entheofest 2023 (Sept 17, 1pm, Ann Arbor, MI)

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September is Entheogenic Plant and Fungi Awareness Month, and Priorclave North America is pleased to be a sponsor of Entheofest 2023, an annual event celebrating the exploration of therapeutic plants and fungi while working towards greater equity and accessibility in this growing field.

This year’s event features speakers, demonstrations, workshops, and community activities. It also celebrates the third anniversary of the Ann Arbor resolution to decriminalize entheogenic plants and fungi. According to Ann Arbor City Council Member Jeff Hayner, “Decriminalization of naturally occurring medicines is necessary for progress. …. I have been moved by the testimonies of those who have found profound relief from the use of entheogenic plants.”

This year’s speakers include Michigan State Senator Jeff Irwin. As Irwin notes, “Entheogens have a long history of cultural and religious significance, with legitimate medical benefits. These are substances that are particularly unlikely to be abused, with a low negative impact on human health. So, when you look at a legal system that makes substances like that strictly illegal, it makes you scratch your head and wonder why. As citizens work to expand decriminalization, it’s important that we do so in a way that serves our values and our community.”

Increasing Access to Healthy Sustenance

But, of course, this is about more than psychoactive mushrooms. Erik Vaughn is a founder of Epiphany Mushroom Company, a mycological manufacturer and service provider with operations in Michigan, Ohio, and Colorado, as well as an Entheofest cosponsor. He explains:

“In the US, the fresh mushroom market is incredibly narrow: 90% of the fresh mushrooms are Agericus,” which includes both portobello mushrooms and the “white button” mushrooms familiar to most Americans. “73% of the grow space in the country for those mushrooms is in one county in Pennsylvania. How many Americans think they don’t like mushrooms, when really they don’t like mushrooms from Kennett Square, PA, because that’s all they’ve ever been served?”

Vaughn works to highlight the abundance that could be affordable and available throughout the United Status, once appropriate cultivation infrastructure is in place.

“There are hundreds of other nutritious and delicious mushrooms. But they’re just not available because we live in this society that adopted from British cuisine a real fear of mushrooms, limiting what is commercially cultivated and available. Lion’s Mane, for example, is incredible. First of all, it’s absolutely delicious. It is a center of the plate, substantial food. But people also take it daily as a dietary supplement, because of the neurogenic benefits. It helps with mood and cognition. Asian cultures have been using this in tea and fresh form for hundreds, if not thousands, of years.”

Right now, limited commercial cultivation keeps everything but the common Agericus out of reach for many consumers.  

“The demand is there. Now we need to make sure there can be a supply of appropriate substrate for growing Lion’s Mane, for example. This cannot only be for the wealthy population. This has to be accessible.”