Become a mushroom master

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Megan Wilson

Contributing Writer

With the warmer weather May morels are sure to be sprouting soon and as usual locals alike are left pondering the question of how to sell mushrooms.

This Spring there is finally an answer to that question, as the Midwest American Mycological Information (MAMI) organization is hosting a workshop on Morel Mushroom certification program.

The non-profit organization (MAMI) has partnered up with the Michigan Farmers Market Association (MIFMA) and the Institute for Sustainable Living, Art, and Natural Design (ISLAND) to create a workshop designed to safely educate mushroom connoisseurs and professionals alike in mushroom mycology and identification.

“I first became involved in this project when I read an article in the Traverse City Record Eagle about Morel Mushroom crackdowns, and I wanted to see if I could help people become properly educated in the field of mycology,” said Chris Wright, Executive Director of MAMI. “For several years the State of Michigan has required that outdoor foragers be certified, but there really were no means to be certified, and that’s why we have started these workshops.”

Individuals that are interested in taking a Morel Mushroom certification workshop should go to http://midwestmycology.org/Workshops/Workshops.html for up to date information.

“We will be hosting a workshop in Marquette on May 2, at the Marquette Co-Op, the deadline for registration is April 26 at midnight,” said Wright. “For those individuals who want information on mycology but don’t wish to become certified, the workshop is $85; a certification workshop is $175 and includes the Morel Mushroom Expert Identification testing.”

At the end of the workshop, participants who successfully pass the certification exam will be issued a Mushroom Identifier Card by the State.

“We tell people to study the curriculum on the website before they come to the class and get familiar with the material,” said Wright. “We go through 20 species, we pick them based on easily recognized species that aren’t easily confuse with poisonous species.”

Some local area restaurants will also be taking advantage of the certification process, as Chef Kyle Marshall of Café Sante will be attending a workshop.

“Once I pass the certification, I will be certified to purchase any wild or foraged items, and people can bring in items and I can certify them,” said Marshall.

Local mushroom guide Tony Williams said he believed certification for restaurants was a good idea.

“I know people who have allergic reactions to morels, but I always tell people to have a little when they are first eating them,” said Williams. “It’s always been a common sense thing with me, having control over who can sell them is probably a good idea, I’ll be taking a class myself.”