All Things Fungal
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.
Conservation Heads Together
On January 28th, 2019, Transition Town Jericho hosted a panel of local town Conservation Commission heads from Jericho, Bolton, Richmond, and Underhill. The meeting was an opportunity for the various representatives to discuss recent initiatives and share their experiences as working teams. About 22 people showed up.
· The work to eliminate invasive species, such as japanese knotweed, abundant on Crane Brook and other areas
· Over harvesting of fiddleheads, and how to ensure there are good supplies every year
· Work with land owners providing ideas and resources to reduce erosion
· Applying for a grant to build a wildflower pollinator garden on the Jericho Village Green
The Conservation Commission (CC) oversees management of properties owned by the towns. In addition, they are available for conducting studies, applying for grants, and providing input for the various Boards in regard to the natural resources within the towns.
Tom Baribault of the Jericho CC, talked about the Backwoods program which is an online course targeted at teaching homeowners with 25 acres or less about their woods and how they can be caretakers of it. Whether you own 2 acres or 20 acres, this program will help you make the most out of the woods in your backyard!
Underhill, represented by Karen McKnight, holds monthly meetings with both members and non-members attending. Workshops on living with bears, bird friendly maples, connectivity of wildlife areas, and tree walks to identify/treat ash trees ravished by the ash borer.
Amy Ludwin, of the Bolton CC cited various projects including mapping the river basin and managing the town forest. They work with land owners on erosion issues and partner with groups such as the Friends of the Winooski. They also have stewardship of the Preston Pond Conservation Area.
The Richmond CC, represented by Judy Rosovsky, sponsors studies on town natural resources such as Gillett Pond, assisted by students from UVM’s Department of Plant Biology. They also contribute to revisions of the Town Plan including mapping the town’s natural resources.