Mushroom pickers share their October harvest at annual show

Othmar Kagi

With Missionite Othmar Kagi, there’s nothing more fun for this guy than picking wild mushrooms.

The founder of the Fraser Valley Mushroom Club in 2005, Kagi has had a lifelong affinity for the mushroom ever since he was a boy in his native Switzerland. A neighbour used to take him for a walk in the mountains and they would gather mushrooms together for dinner.

When Kagi moved to Canada, he continued his enjoyment of seeking out wild mushrooms in the coniferous rainforests of the Lower Mainland. It was while he was living in Richmond and was a member of the Vancouver Mycological Society that he met Mission’s Juergen Kuerten, who started the first annual mushroom show in 2005.

When Kagi moved to Mission, the two friends decided to form a club throughout the Fraser Valley that today has members from Hope to North Vancouver.

When Kagi began going on hikes around Mission, he would often see people leaving with mushrooms. When he would asked them what they were going to do with the mushrooms, many confessed to not knowing what they were.

That’s when he decided he needed to help educate people about the mushrooms that grow locally.

“Lots of people do not have any idea about how important mushrooms are — not just for food but for mother nature,” he said.

While now a considerable expert in mushrooms, the allure of stumbling across rare types of fungi continue to bring him out into the woods, rain or shine.

“It’s always the ones which you haven’t found yet,” he says, referring to the perpetual quest to find a new type of mushroom.

He still remembers the time he found his first golden-hued chanterelle mushroom, widely considered by chefs as a gourmet fungi on par with truffles and morels.

Kagi says when new members to the club come for a walk the most frequently asked question is whether the fungi they find is edible. But more important than what’s edible is what’s poisonous, he warns.

The toxic amanita phalloides, more commonly known as the death cap mushroom, is noted for its whitish-greenish cap and grows around Mission.

They resemble several edible species, which is why it is responsible for the majority of the world’s accidental deaths from consuming mushrooms. Just 30 grams of the mushroom is enough to kill a human.

Mushrooms grow year-round in Mission, but the season generally begins in spring when the cottonwood trees begin to bloom and the early morels come out. Following the spring the black morels come out, and are found most abundantly in areas where there has been a forest fire, though scientists don’t know exactly why.

“Mushrooms are funny because if the climate isn’t right for them, if it’s not the right temperature, or moisture, or lighting, or place, they’re not there.”

That means mushrooms that grow in one place one year might be in a completely different place the next.

October is the best harvesting season for mushrooms, since they are most abundant in number before the winter frosts wipe them out.

The seventh annual mushroom show takes place Oct. 16 at St. Andrew`s United Church on Grand Street from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

There will be mushroom tasting, identification, displays, and club members will be on hand to answer questions. Admission is $3 and children under 12 are free. There’s also a kid’s corner.

Visit www.fvmushroomclub.ca for full details.

Just Posted

Vis holding town hall meeting in Mission

Conservative Party candidate to speak on Thursday, March 28 at the Mission Leisure Centre

VIDEO: Mission fire crews extinguish brush fire behind Walmart

The CP Rail line had to be shut down temporarily in order to run hoses over the tracks

Angler reels in monster bass at Mill Lake Park

Jayden Kalmbach had been trying to land a prize bass for months at Abbotsford’s urban lake.

Teen who fires airsoft pistol into sports field prompts large police response

Takedown occurs Monday night on Trethewey Street in Abbotsford

Make a Difference auction raises $269,000 for Foodgrains Bank

Event at McClary’s Stockyard in Abbotsford crushes previous record

VIDEO: RCMP reveal five kids hit in deadly B.C. crash

The children range in age from six to 17.

Study: Why Canadian police should have a dedicated animal cruelty unit

People view fighting animal cruelty as a public responsibility

Convicted pedophile from B.C. raises fears after move to Ontario

Police have issued a warning about Madilyn Harks in Brampton

Mystery plane wakes up B.C. residents

An aircraft circled Langley City over the weekend after midnight for about an hour

Yellow snake spotted slithering in Greater Victoria neighbourhood

Police describe it as ‘large, pale [and] yellow’ suggesting the snake may be exotic

British Columbians are paying more for booze but also broccoli

Victoria’s inflation was 2.3 per cent, a tick above Vancouver’s of 2.2 per cent

UPDATED: IHIT investigating fatal crash in Surrey

Three people dead, investigators expected to be at scene ‘for significant amount of time’

Eviction halted for B.C. woman deemed ‘too young’ for seniors’ home

Zoe Nagler, 46, had been given notice after living in the seniors complex in Comox for six years

Most Read