I was born in oil city Pennsylvania, where oil was discovered. By the time I came of age, however, it was no longer a boomtown but a small town getting smaller. I worked as a tattoo artist for 8 years, which was a lot of fun. I eventually became disenchanted with the nature of the that job. In a particularly strange transitional period during my early 20s, a close friend and I began to take an interest in wild plants – nibbling on Japanese knotweed, making mullein tea, etc. It was fascinating, it was all around me, and it occurred with zero input from me. This snowballed into a full blown foraging obsession. I turned out to be quite good at foraging and memorizing Latin names to tell my friends.
Not long after that I spent several months at a permaculture farm in KY, earth tribe trust (now defunct). I had no post high school education and a flexible job tattooing, and I was glad to have the opportunity. Among the many permaculture concepts I was introduced to there, I was taken on my first mushroom hunt. I learned within moments that I was clueless about mushrooms, a feeling I found dissatisfying, but I was transfixed. After ordering several field guides, I took to the world of wild mushrooms for the next 9 years, eventually teaching numerous wild identification classes, biological diversity/soil microbiology classes, and eventually, low tech/affordable mushroom cultivation. I also earned credited hours alongside the Pennsylvania chapter of the American Herbalist Guild.
My wife of 8 years and I moved to Nashville 6 years ago. 3 years ago we bought 7 acres in Charlotte TN, where we now run a homestead/mushroom farm and raise our 3 children, ducks, geese, chickens, turkeys, peacocks, and pigs. It’s a no slaughter home, but we do eat a lot of eggs. Life does not slow down, I’m constantly amazed at how distant the idea of boredom seems… and thankful for it. As a family we constantly continue our education into the world around us and how to recreate it where we live via sustainable cultivation of all types of food and medicine, focusing heavily on native perennials, fruit trees, wood grown mushrooms, and our own heavily maintained populations of potentially beneficial “invasives”. I’m happy that I have been able to share the knowledge I have gained firsthand and hope to continue teaching, and enjoying the knowledgeable friends I’ve seemed to be thrown at, everyone I meet teaches me important lessons that I somehow incorporate into my life. I seem to go where I please in life… But I get the feeling that’s how I’m meant to live.