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Parksville Qualicum Beach biologist sharing her skills

Nine-year-old Jake Lutick-Fuller treks through the forest once a week in Errington, learning the ecology and biology of fungi and plants. - BRENDA GOUGH PHOTO
Nine-year-old Jake Lutick-Fuller treks through the forest once a week in Errington, learning the ecology and biology of fungi and plants.
— image credit: BRENDA GOUGH PHOTO

If you go down to the woods today you're sure of a big surprise.

It is oyster mushroom season, and no one is more passionate about the tasty fungi than wild foods guide and nature educator Jessica Wolf and one of her young students.

During a recent hike through the forest in Errington, Wolf and nine-year-old Jake Lutick-Fuller pointed out several of the scallop shaped treasures.

Also known as Pleurotus ostreatus, the thick, white, edible mushrooms were erupting on dead alder trees and logs.

Wolf is a biologist interested in edible and medicinal plants and fungi, and she encourages people to get acquainted with the many uses of common trees as food, medicine, and hosts for edible mushrooms.

She says plants are all around us — delicious berries, nutritious greens, plants that ward off colds, suppress coughs, fight infection and make fragrant teas.

On a windy trail in the woods near the Englishman River in Errington, Wolf introduced this reporter to a number of edible plants including Oxeye Daisy and Dandelion flowers.

Wolf identified several edible species and her young student competently referred to them by their Latin names.

Wolf said her mentorship of Lutick-Fuller is part of his home-schooling goals and she agreed he is enthusiastic about the curriculum.

"Jake and I have been going out foraging weekly together since the start of April.  He is very passionate and excited about fungi."

Besides walking and studying the plants they find, he has also participated in inoculating logs with shitake and oyster mushroom spawn.

He has learned cultivation techniques, as well as food preservation like harvesting in season, then dehydrating and blanching/freezing stinging nettles for future use.

Have you ever found a big, tempting mushroom and wondered ... can I eat it or will it poison me? With no one to ask it is best to leave it. But if you want to get acquainted with edible mushrooms and the many uses of common plants Wolf leads tours for private groups.

The experienced biologist said she is honoured to share her skills and knowledge with others.

She teaches people how to forage with confidence as well as what else they can plant in their own yards to increase their bounty.

Her next scheduled group workshops are in the fall and if you would like to learn to find wild berries, teas, and greens, and recognize them in their fall attire visit her website at

www.jessicawolf.ca or call 250-327-6931.

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