Almost the first words from Jess Rubin, February 25 presenter, were that restoring the economy starts with restoring the ecology, an ongoing theme in her talk at the Jericho Community Center. About eighteen of us gathered to hear about all things fungal.
Jess, a resident of Essex Junction, founder of MycoEvolve & co-founder of VT Myconode, said while microbes showed up on earth four billion years ago, fungi two billion and plants one billion years later, working backwards to partner with plants, fungi, and microbes is one strategy to engage in earth healing efforts.
As a new field, mycoremediation arose in the 1970s, largely due to the work of mushroom guru Paul Stamets, author of Mycelium Running. Jess said that as a science, mycoremediation is still in its infancy.
In Vermont, manure management strategies, rotational & cover crop practices, and appropriate buffer strips seemed to be lacking on many farms, thus leading to tainted waterways. These observations led Jess to focus on E. coli in her research.
Much of her initial research focused on the somewhat familiar King Stropharia, or Wine-cap mushroom since it is easy to grow and releases enzymes that ultimately kill E. coli. Jess mentioned that often fungi used for healing sickness in humans such as many of the polypores have great potential to be used in remedial work.
Future plans for Jess include developing a fungal hugelkultur installation to remediate E.coli and redirect phosphorus out of the water via mycorrhizal riparian plantings. With a strong team assembled, Jess intends to pursue this work through a Masters project in Ecological Landscape Design.
After describing fungal research projects in Shelburne, Colchester and Poultney, Jess led our group in an exercise of first listing toxins in our own neighborhoods, then citing existing infrastructure, as initial steps toward understanding, envisioning, and transitioning into remediation practices on the local level.