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Foraging for Fall Mushrooms in Detroit


Chicken of the Woods mushroom this one found Sept 2016 on Belle Isle


Lion’s Mane. This is perhaps the most exciting mushroom I’ve found in the city, mostly because it was the first time I found one anywhere. I found it growing in the crotch of a Norway maple planted on the city strip in front of a vacant house last October. I needed to use the ladder from my work vehicle to climb the tree to get it. I’m hoping it fruits again this fall.



Around Michigan the only wild mushroom that “normal” people collect are the Morels in the Spring. Even then there is a bit of fear mongering about “false morels” (we have eaten the verpa sp. quite a few times with no ill effects, but hey this post is about fall mushrooms). While I love being out in the spring woods looking for dead elms, old apple orchards in bloom and  cottonwood groves in search of those funny little black, gray, and yellow mushrooms, I find fall mushrooming far more productive and exciting. We currently live in Detroit, and I don’t have a ton of time to get deep into the woods. A lot of my foraging happens while I’m driving around the city for work, riding home on my bike, or in parks near my home. Fall mushroom season is upon us, so I just wanted to do a little post about some of the great fall mushrooms that we’ve found around the city. Enjoy.



First Hen of the Woods/Maitake of the season. Found on a evening walk in the neighborhood 9/21/16



Reshi mushroom found growing underneath the plum trees in our garden in a hugelkultur berm. This was early sept 2016, but there’s another one fruiting as we speak.



Found these honey mushrooms the same day as the Maitake. This is a parasitic fungi that are und growing on oaks. For some reason I never harvest or eat these, but maybe this year I will give them a shot. When your cooking up ten pounds or chicken of the woods or hen of the woods, these seem kind of trivial.


We have  lot of fun looking for mushrooms around the city in the Fall, and it’s already been a pretty good season so far. We will probably put between 20-50 pounds combined of Chicken of the Woods and Maitake into the freezer. They are such great edible mushrooms, often found in large quantities. If you’ve never collected wild mushrooms or limited yourself to just morels we highly encourage you to get out there and see what you can find. Both Chicken of the Woods and Maitake are found growing at the base of oak trees. Your local city park, state park, or old cemetery are great places to start. Have fun and be safe!



2014 here we come!

2014 looks to be a good year. In the past our garden has been run as a market garden, but this year we are changing it up. We are going to be growing a portion for extended household use and sharing with our helpers, a portion for storage (freezing, canning, fermenting, and cellaring), a portion for wholesale outlets like local restaurants and the Fresh Food Share, and a portion for farmers market with Grown in Detroit. The last couple years were run on dwindling energy til we finally hit burn out mode midsummer last year. This new focus comes with new enthusiasm and excitement to grow, eat, store, and distribute food that is healthy for people and for the earth.

We’re still figuring out which projects we’ll have time and money for at this point. Our first goal is to have the second house move in ready by fall. Some other things we’ll be working on are the completion of our street water diversion garden, more plantings in the food forest, installing a root cellar, and hopefully finally getting chickens. We have some more work to do with our rocket mass heater and it’s possible that we’ll get started on our outdoor kitchen/processing station. The add on passive solar greenhouse will likely get pushed back til next year, but who knows. We also have a pallet shed to finish, rain catchments to install on both houses and the shed, among a whole host of other projects that we hope to accomplish in the next 2 years!

The indiegogo has been pushed backed largely because it took more effort than we anticipated and we really didn’t want to release something sub par. We will likely take that one up again in a couple months.

There will be plenty of volunteer opportunities in the garden and on some of our upcoming projects. Please get ahold of us if you’re interested in getting involved. Thank you!

Email jeremy at to get in touch with us

Rocket Mass Heaters, the beginning

Back in 2007 I attended a training with Scott Kellogg and company up in Albany, NY. This was my first real exposure to the concepts and techniques associated with permaculture. Much of it was new and exciting to me, and seeing the different systems in place forever changed me. One of the subjects presented was the difficulty of urban sustainability in the cold winter regions in conjunction with home heating. As the weekend went on we learned about home food production, aquaponics, waste water treatment, worm composting, mushroom productions, low tech solar and wind power, bioremediation, and a whole slew of other things. We built a rocket cook stove and baked in a cob oven, but the problem of home heating was one of the few ‘problems’ we hardly explored solutions for. A year later I came across Ianto’s book about rocket mass heaters, and was totally intrigued. Heating with wood that didnt really need to be cut with a chainsaw or split with an axe…and using a tiny fraction of it? I looked online and found some of Paul Wheaton’s early videos on the topic and was introduced to the work of Ernie and Erica Wisner as well. At the time I was living in a one room straw bale cottage of sorts in PA and dreaming of taking the aesthetics, energy efficiency and novelty back with me to Detroit some day. Would it be possible to do something of this nature in the city?

Here we are more than 5 years later, and we are on our way to that little dream. Last night we had our first test fire in the new home that we’re working on turning into a multi household permaculture living and learning center. First attempt had a bit of smoke back, but after a little priming we got a nice draw and our partially built heater was blazing away and pulling like a champ! While Im incredibly busy lately, Im going to do my best to document the process so far and as it unfolds. Perhaps our lessons will be useful for others!


Well, there’s been quite a break in the action for this blog. time to bring it back.

We’re currently working on launching an indiegogo campaign to fix up our new house. Mike and Jill bought the house next to their garden and the process of becoming a multi household permaculture living and learning center is well underway. We’ve scavenged and purchased most of the materials to build the rocket mass heater and Brian moved up from Florida to help fix up the house and help make some of our dreams a reality. Progress is a bit slow, but fairly steady. More posts and updates soon, including descriptions of the indiegogo incentives.

Go Time!

The weather this spring has been a little on the interesting side so far. Compared to last year we’re getting much more rain, which is a good thing. A week after we planted our greens for the first market of the year, the temperature dipped below freezing at night and not much above 40 during the day time. Unfortunately that is going to limit what we have for our market debut at the Farmington Farmers Market. The cold has delayed the fruit tree blossoms, which I hope means a big year for michigan fruit growers (especially after last year’s catastrophe).

We’re really excited to be selling at a new market this year and we think Farmington will be a good home for us. As much as we love our Detroit markets, namely Eastern Market, the competition between fellow growers selling the same crops to the same customers was starting to get overwhelming. As it turns out, the Farmington Market is a few miles closer to us and will give us a new customer base. We will be selling mostly specialty/niche market crops. Our main focus will be seasonal salads and greens, but we will try to work in different crops that the bigger growers at the market don’t feel like messing with. Should be a fun experiment!

Also, trees will be arriving in the mail in the next week, so its time to prepare for another round of plantings over at the Brightmoor Edible Forest Garden. Blessed Springtime!

Its Go Time!

This year’s garden season is getting a bit of a late start, especially compared to last year! The cold weather keeps lingering, making getting int the soil quite difficult. With the power of hoop houses, we’re getting things going. April first was the first time we worked in the soil. I was working mostly alone, with some occational help from Zack. Actually, he was mostly just playing in the soil and looking for bugs, but thats okay.

I set up some pallet tables on cinderblocks to start transplants for the veggie garden in hoop house 2. I also prepped all the beds for planting spring greens. We’ll be making our debut at Farmington Market and a month, so we need to get going! We are also seeding medicinal herbs and wild flowers for the forest garden. We’ll have another round of tree planting coming in a mont. More info on that very soon. I’m sure that we’ll make an event of it. Another event associated with the forest garden is our upcoming grafting and plant propagation workshop. Click the link for more info.

Hoop house 1 still has tons of greens growing from the early fall planting, and I suspect will keep going well into the spring. Some of the lettuces turned to mush…as did the arugula and radishes. I’m going to clear those sections out and replant this week. The red veined sorrel is looking quite beautiful and will look stunning in our spring mix this year.

After all the greens are up and established, we’ll move the tunnels in about a month, just in time to give the hot crops a couple weeks head start. These haven’t even been seeded, so we might need to purchase a flat for early production. Im hoping to get the others going in the next day or two. Looking forward to it actually feeling like spring outside!

Looking back and moving forward

Well it’s been quite a wild ride of a season. We have quite a few ‘drafts’ documenting what we’ve been up to, but they never got posted. I’ll attempt to provide some details in future posts, but some things will remain in my memories but off of the Internet. The interns saved us this year! I was working 50-60 hours at work (yes I work a “normal” job), and they really stepped up and helped make things happen!

So what did we do this year, since we didn’t post it online? Well here are a few of the highlights. Some of them were events organized by our friends, and we were attendees:

-We planted the first phase of our 2 acre+ community food forest. We have much more to plant, but it was a good start.
-Jess gave birth to Ember Lillian Fern in our living room May 15. The most exciting and important event of the year for us.
-Sepp Holzer spent half of a day at our site as part of a 4 day intensive. He explained his methods of hugel beds, increasing plantable surface area and microclimates, the need for living water and stories.
-Jesse Tack and Travis Childs organized (in collaboration with Spirit Farm) a PDC with Larry Santoyo and Keith Johnson. We were a very small part of it but I was thankful to sit in on a few sessions and get my permie batteries recharged.
– Erica and Ernie Wisner, the masters of rocket mass heaters, came and gave a two day workshop on wood heating and cooking. One day at spirit of hope and the other at the beautiful strawbale studio in Oxford.

-We built two 12’X36′ moveable hoophouses with lots of help from Kido from the Greening of Detroit and various volunteers.
-With the help of local Detroiter John Miller we plowed the area above the forest garden with draft horses. We planted a winter cover of rye, which didn’t seem to take too well. In the spring we plan to sow a combination o winter storage crops and buckwheat.