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Fall is for Foraging

September 2023 Island Farm and Garden Magazine article

Vancouver Island, with its rainforest climate, has long been known as mushroom picker’s Eden and as the days grow shorter and the crispness of fall begins to fill the air, mushroom foraging season begins. However, for many people the idea of traipsing through the forest with a wild mushroom identifier app on their phone lacks appeal. Luckily and thanks to two Island Good businesses: Foragers Galley and Forest for Dinner we can conveniently enjoy a variety of mushrooms without the risk of tripping over a log, getting lost, mis-identifying fungi or any of the many other mishaps that can be envisioned.

Foragers Galley: Cultivate Your Own Mushroom Haven

For those interested in the experience of cultivating mushrooms, Foragers Galley offers innovative Grow-at-Home Kits. Designed to provide the freshest and most immersive mushroom-growing experience, these kits are a delightful gift for both cooking enthusiasts and nature lovers.

Their kits use some strains that can be found in locally in wild, for example, Bear-tooth mushroom, Western Reishi and Lion’s Mane and they also offer other varieties such as Blue Oyster, Chestnut, Golden Oyster and Pink Oyster Mushroom.

The team at Foragers Galley is often busy in their lab endeavouring to introduce exciting new varieties into their grow-at-home kits. Rather than the typical, or traditional mushrooms everyone is accustomed to seeing in a grocery store (portobellos, criminis), they offer culinary enthusiasts with something that cooks and tastes different. Think chestnut mushrooms, pink oysters, or black king pearl mushrooms. They’ll never be able to compete with the thousands of varieties found in the forests on Vancouver Island, but they’re proud of the collection they’ve got so far! You must admit, harvesting mushrooms directly from your grow-at-home kit and promptly sizzling them in a skillet sounds pretty amazing.

“It’s great to be part of Island Good” says Foragers Galley Manager, Jonathan Wright. “To us it means more than just sourcing locally; it’s about embracing a way of life that celebrates community, sustainability, and all our Island producers.” Foragers Galley’s growing kits are available at numerous Island retail outlets, and they can also be conveniently ordered online at www.foragersgalley.com.

Forest for Dinner: A Gourmet Adventure in Every Bite

For those who prefer the allure of gourmet mushrooms without hands-on cultivation, Forest for Dinner brings you small-batch selections of mushrooms, greens, berries, and spices from the forest to the table. Treat yourself to the flavours of marinated morel and chanterelle mushrooms, capturing the very essence of the forest. Enjoy distinctive and graceful wild foods sourced and collected with utmost attention to quality and sustainability.

Ben and Celia, the founders of Forest for Dinner, have gathered wild foods throughout Canada and Europe for many years which has provided them an intimate familiarity with the plants and the ecosystems in which they harvest them. They are based out of a facility in Port Alberni where they package and process their gourmet delights.

Forest for Dinner products can be found in a variety of Island retail establishments or purchased online at www.forestfordinner.ca.

If you are still intrigued by the opportunity to search for your own mushroom treasures Forest for Dinner will soon be offering foraging tours in the fall. Expert forager guides will teach you how to confidently identify and safely harvest a wide range of fall fungi.

Whether you’re drawn to cultivating your own mushrooms with Foragers Galley’s kits or prefer to savour the wild foods sourced and collected by Forest for Dinner enjoy Island Good mushrooms this season and you’re your taste buds will thank you!