Sunday, March 1, 2020

Mushrooms - The Soul of the Earth

Insights from our Winter Mushroom Workshop from 27th December - 29th December, 2019

Have you ever thought, why mushrooms are called the ‘Soul of the Mother Earth’? It was a pleasure for Himpicked (in collaboration with EarthJust) to decode the same with 8 participants from around the country in the dazzling, wintry weather of Solan in December, 2019 for three-days. The workshop was an attempt by Himpicked, dedicated to helping the participants know more about mushrooms and their science, their importance, the convenient cultivation techniques and their role in ensuring a sustainable living!



The workshop brought together a diverse group of participants from different parts of the country in Shoolini University (our venue partners) and they went through a series of different activities to dive into the ‘life’ of mushrooms! 

The first day, we began with an interesting life maps session where all of us connected with each other and then explored a forest to understand why mushrooms are called the souls of the earth. This was followed by a learning session on cultivating mushrooms - the mushroom cultivation process was split across all three days and each day we dived into each stage of its cultivation, helping our participants absorb the process properly!

Shoolini University also offered to help us with exploring mushrooms and knowing different varieties of it in their laboratory. We spent a part of our second day in their lab and learning the science of mushrooms - their medicinal value, and also observing the spores and mycelia under a microscope!
To add to the fun and excitement, we did two different treks - the first one was a ‘ Morning Trek’ where we all went to a forest to hunt for different varieties of mushrooms that exist in nature. And the second one was a ‘Night Trek’ where we planted puff balls in nature. The night trek was a way for us to give back to the ‘ecosystem’ for all that it gives us - a small gesture to express our deepest gratitude towards Mother Earth! Take a look at the fun treks -

After the morning mushroom hunt, participants gathered at the Department of Biotechnology, where they were introduced to various kinds of mushrooms found in natural ecosystem & identification features of edible, poisonous & medicinal mushrooms.
The participants were then trained on growing there own mushrooms at home. The workshop highlighted the importance of mushrooms to ensure a sustainable living and so we talked about how this entire process of mushroom cultivation can be completely organic and ensure zero-waste. In order to do that, we created a space for the participants to create their own bio-enzyme (which is used in the waste sterilization stage in the mushroom cultivation process) and helped them create their own eco-bricks with the waste plastic bags (used in mushroom cultivation). Each participant made 1 mushroom grow-bag each, which they would be caring along after the workshop for observations.
 
The participants were then made aware about nutritional & medicinal value of various mushrooms. And how they can incorporate mushrooms in there diet to fight common ailments like high cholesterol, high blood pressure, high blood glucose, protein & vitamin D deficiency etc.
The cherry on the cake was the extra fun we had in the chilly weather with bon-fire almost every night - talking about our life stories, sharing happy moments and connecting better!
Something that we witnessed was the happiness and glow that we all had, thinking about the time when mushrooms would sprout from our bags! Meet the 11 year old Etash -  the youngest in this batch of our participants and see the glow on his face getting all these mushrooms sprouted on the bags he made with his father -

Our youngest in the batch - 11 year old Etash, spent the time with us with great energy and excitement anticipating the grown mushrooms on his mushroom-bag! He was also humble enough to share his lovely notes - take a look -

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