Ben and Jerry’s Community Action Grant
written by Jessica Rubin, PAN Member
We were grateful to receive fiscal sponsorship from PAN in order to apply for a Ben and Jerry’s Community Action grant. Vermont Myconode is an inspired local offshoot of the greater Radical Mycology movement. As a network of friends, colleagues, mentors, scientists, amateur mycologists, ecological restorationists, educators, students, earth workers, and mentees, we cultivate mushrooms, ideas, and strategies to apply the healing power of the 5th Queendom (Fungi) for food and medicine as well as for remediating human – caused pollution to restore ecological balance in Vermont.
Our mission is applied through a spectrum of activities from inoculating woodchips or logs with spawn, restoring degraded ecosystems to decrease toxic levels in soil & water to non-toxic levels, providing educational workshops, and hosting work parties. In terms of applying mycoremediation to Vermont’s landscape, there is tremendous potential for remediating toxins currently threatening the health of Lake Champlain (Lake Bitawabok, Abenaki call it; translated as ‘Lake Between”) such as: excess phosphorus from fertilizers, hydrocarbons found in pesticides and herbicides and parking lot drains, pathogens from manure runoff, heavy metals in suburban, agricultural, and urban soils, and toxic chemical compounds in nonpoint source runoff.
With these funds and New England Grassroots Fund support we have been able to create a library for our growing collective while helping to provide mycological educational opportunities to our members, create a lab for upcoming projects which the group and two local businesses Infinity Soils and Mycoevolve can access, and purchase inoculation tools which we will use in offering edible and medicinal installation workshops later this summer. Once we fine tune the anteroom, ventilation and electrical systems, we plan to offer an indoor cultivation workshop in our lab and two fungal forays on the surrounding landscape before fall is in full swing.
We are dedicated to acknowledging that we are on stolen land of the Abenaki First Nation People who call this land N’dakinna, translated as ‘Dawnland’ and to decolonize ourselves. As we increase access of mycological information to people of all backgrounds, we remain egalitarian, all inclusive; not discriminating on basis of age, gender, ethnicity, religion, mental health status, education, race, culture, sexual orientation, general appearance, income level, living situation, experience in social or mycological work. While we enhance local living systems through appropriate use of technology & well designed mycological systems, we apply mycological information to support the independence and sovereignty of local communities; growing symbiotic bridges between local groups, non-profits, and volunteers through shared mycological skills, knowledge, and insights. As we emphasize the use of local, non-polluting, non-exploitative materials and practices whenever possible in mycological endeavors, we strongly discourage the exploitation of fungi, mycoremediation, and bioremediation by government and corporate interests. We continually acknowledge, harness, and honor the wisdom of our ancestors; human, fungal & beyond with humility, gratitude, and curiosity. Once our systems are a bit more in place we aim to follow up on expressed interest by Abenaki tribal garden folk and inner city garden communities to offer outdoor cultivation workshops before harvest season.