Meet Linda Conroy, practicing herbalist and the owner of Moonwise Herbs based in Stoughton, WI, and the founder of the Midwest Women's Herbal Conference and the Mycelium Mysteries Conference. Conroy shares her love of wild food harvesting and the wonderful foods we can expect to find late summer and fall. Learn about the intelligence of trees, how to become a citizen scientist and more! For more information, visit MoonwiseHerbs.com.
[00:00:07.490] - Candi Broeffle, Host
Good morning and welcome to Green Tea Conversations, the radio show that delves into the pages of Natural Awakenings magazine to bring you the local experts who share their progressive ideas and the latest information and insights needed so you can lead your best life. I'm your host, Candi Broeffle, publisher of the Twin Cities edition of Natural Awakenings magazine, and I am honored to bring these experts to you. Today on our show, we are welcoming back Linda Conroy, owner of Moonwise Herbs out of Stoughton, Wisconsin. Linda is a practicing herbalist who provides herbal education, workshops, and apprenticeships, as well as individual consultations.
Linda is a community organizer and the founder of the Midwest Women's Herbal Conference. Welcome back to the show, Linda.
[00:00:54.660] - Linda Conroy, Guest
Thank you. Thanks for having me.
Well, you have been with us a few times now, and each time you come and spend some time with us, I just walk away, having felt like I've learned so much more and getting really excited about herbs and mushrooms. I am always so happy to have you on the show. Today, I am excited about being able to talk to you about something that is really becoming more and more known in our community, and that is wild food harvesting. So, this time of the year, when we talk about wild food harvesting, what kind of things are you doing now?
Well, lots of fruits we're harvesting and still harvesting greens and looking at moving toward harvesting seeds. It's interesting because over the seasons, you harvest different things. I kind of say there's a general overview, which would be in the very early spring, you harvest shoots, and then you start to harvest more flowers and leaves, and then you start to see more fruits coming on. And then towards the fall, you harvest more roots and seeds. So, it's kind of a general. It's not an absolute rule, but it's kind of a general rule.
So, this time we're in the late summer and we start to see more fruits coming on August 1 is considered the harvest season. Some people call it out, which is the harvest festival. And so we start harvesting the abundance that's there. I have harvested black cherry recently and, you know, like wild forage crab apples and wild grapes. So, all of these things are really starting to come on. Elderberries are quite abundant at the moment, and certainly we're utilizing them for food, but also for medicine. You know, it's kind of one of those quintessential, let your food be your medicine and your medicine be your food.
I like to harvest at what I call feral apples. Certainly, in the Midwest, what I found is there are lots of abandoned apple trees or feral apple trees, and I was hiking last week in this area and came across this beautiful apple tree that was dropping apples. And I luckily had a bag with me and just put some in my bag and brought them home. One of the things about foraging that I love is that you go out, you walk around, and you find things you're not expecting to find sometimes.
And it's always really delightful surprise. So on that journey, I came home and made an apple elderberry crisp, and that was super delicious. So, you know, it's kind of a surprise treat. On that same walk, I was walking along and I saw all these little fruits on the ground, and I thought, gosh, what art, what is that? And I look up and there's just these huge black cherry trees, most of them I couldn't reach. Why I didn't notice it at first, because they're so huge, I would need a major ladder to reach them.
But then I did find some I could actually harvest as well.
[00:04:16.470] - Candi Broeffle, Host
So let's talk about that a little bit. You were talking before about the apples that you came across and that some of them had fallen on the ground and then the cherries being up in the tree. So are there certain things that you should be doing as far as when you're harvesting like apple? Should you be taking them off the trees? Or should you be waiting for them to fall?
[00:04:36.780] - Linda Conroy, Guest
What what I want to know is that they're ripe, and when they start falling off the tree, you know, they're likely ripe. Like I drove by a favorite pear tree earlier today, actually, and I was checking to see if any of the pears were on the ground, and they're not yet. So I'm not looking to pick them all up off the ground. But when they fall on the ground, it indicates to me that they're ripening enough that they're falling. So I'd like to pick them off the tree.
If they've just fallen recently, I might pick them off the ground. But I guess they've been on the ground for any length of time, they all started rotting. So I'm obviously not going to pick the fruit that's rotting grounds. So.
[00:05:19.990] - Candi Broeffle, Host
We used to have a lot of trees when I lived in Moose Lake, we had a lot of apple trees. And when I say a lot of apple trees, we had three apple trees. But that's a lot of apple trees because we did get a lot of apples.
Yes. And let you have a business. Selling apples or making apple products. That's a lot of apples.
And I didn't. So it would be like from this time through September, early October, we would be getting apples everyday. Buckets of apples.
And it's great. But I know sometimes people would say, you know, oh, well, when they fall on the ground, they're bruised. But when you're using them in things, it doesn't matter if they're bruised. So if you're making applesauce out of them, you're freezing them for apple pie is that kind of thing. It's just really not going to matter.
[00:06:07.920] - Linda Conroy, Guest
No. I mean, I think that's one of the challenges of our food system in this country is if people buy an apple in the store, for example, they expect it to be perfect.
[00:06:17.580] - Candi Broeffle, Host
[00:06:18.300] - Linda Conroy, Guest
But when you're foraging or you have your own apple backyard apple trees, I mean, you don't really care. You can eat around infects and you can cut around them. And I personally don't utilize any chemicals. I do have a small orchard here on my property as well, and it's a very young orchard, so it's not producing prolifically yet.
We're doing things with the soil to help encourage the trees. But when I'm out and about, you know, I'm not worried about some blemishes and that kind of thing. Mostly, what I do with apples is make apple sauce. I press them for cider kind of things. That doesn't really matter if there's some blemishes here and there.
[00:07:04.140] - Candi Broeffle, Host
Well, and I don't know how you make your apple sauce, but I give this tip to everybody who loves apples that wants to make apple sauce because it's the absolute easiest way to make apple sauce is clean your apples, core them, put them in your pot with a little bit of water, let them Cook down really well. I don't Peel them. I don't do anything like that. And then I just use an immersion blender and blend them until they're smooth. And it makes the most beautiful apple sauce.
[00:07:32.080] - Linda Conroy, Guest
And you get all the goodness of your peel as well in there.
[00:07:34.840] - Candi Broeffle, Host
[00:07:35.520] - Linda Conroy, Guest
And that's so important. I'm the exact same way. I know peeling. I often have these long conversations with my apprentice students about not peeling food because there's a lot of nutrition right there between the flesh and the peel, whether it be a fruit or a vegetable. And so if I don't have to peel something, if something's tough, I might peel it, but you have some really important nutrients there, and you're going to lose them if you peel it. The other thing is that my applesauce tends, especially if the apples are a little bit red, tends to have this beautiful color, and some of it comes from the peel being red again.
[00:08:20.290] - Candi Broeffle, Host
And I don't put any sweetener in my apple sauce either.
[00:08:23.260] - Linda Conroy, Guest
Me either. Now, a lot of people had a lot of sweetener. And when I serve my apple sauce to people, I don't know about your experience, but people are like, how did you make this? What's in this? And they think they're spices and there is nothing but apples. And one of my tricks is that I Cook. I Cook the apples for a long time. I actually leave them. I usually put them in a crockpot. Or if I have a really large quantity I've sometimes put them in big baking dishes in the oven.
You kind of use the oven as a crock pot, but I am cooking them down for sometimes up to two days, like, I Cook them for a really, really long time, and then I become really sweet then. Oh, yeah, it tastes so good because it concentrates naturally occurring sugars in the fruit. I leave it a little chunky, and actually, I don't usually use the blender. I just get the potato masher because I like a little bit of chunkiness to my apple sauce. Everybody likes their apple sauce different, I guess in some ways.
My teacher from New Zealand, she always tells people to make stewed apples. And maybe maybe it's a little stewed apple because it's just a little chunky. And one of the things I know from my herbal practice and something. I recommend that people eat apple sauce every day for the pectin because the pectin is a prebiotic that helps promote digestion. It potentiates the probiotics, so eating just a dollop of apple sauce or two every day, either in your smoothie, on the side of your plate, on your toes, wherever you.
That's why to make a lot because I eat it all the time.
[00:10:04.960] - Candi Broeffle, Host
Yeah. Oh, that's such a great tip. I hadn't even thought of that. And there's so many apples that are wild that we can find out in the wild that I don't think people even think about. And even the small crab apples.
[00:10:18.300] - Linda Conroy, Guest
Well, those are my favorite. And the other day I found a beautiful stand of crab apple trees when I was up north teaching at a college, and they were on the college campus and nobody was picking them. So I went and pick them, and they were the taste because sometimes crab apples dough taste great. You have to taste them and make sure you like them. Well, these were beautiful red fleshed crab apples. And so my favorite thing to do. And, you know, I can share this recipe with your listeners because it's my favorite recipe is crab apple chutney, because crab apples are even higher than apples in pectin.
Those crab apples will make the chutney nice and gelatinous, and it's just got the best flavor and the best consistency with the sour from the apple. But a little bit of sweet because I actually in that I do put some sweetener. I add some honey to it, and it's just the best chutney. You know, I put on the chutney ingredients, raisins, and usually a little ginger in there, and it's just super delicious.
[00:11:21.940] - Candi Broeffle, Host
Oh, that would be great. So we will take you up on that recipe offer.
[00:11:26.010] - Linda Conroy, Guest
Okay. I thought you would.
[00:11:29.330] - Candi Broeffle, Host
Well, we are going to have to go into a commercial right now, but for people who want to learn more about the work that Linda does, visit MoonwiseHerbs.com to read the online version of Natural Awakenings Magazine, visit NaturalTwinCities.com. You're listening to Green Tea Conversations on AM950, The Progressive Voice of Minnesota, and we will be right back.
[00:12:03.240] - Candi Broeffle, Host
Welcome back to Green Tea Conversations, where we delve into the pages of Natural Awakenings Magazine in talk to the professionals to share their expertise on natural health with you. I'm your host Candi Broeffle, and today we're visiting with Linda Conroy, owner of Moonwise Herbs in Stoughton, Wisconsin, and founder of the Midwest Women's Herbal Conference. So Linda, just before the break, we were starting to talk about some of the wonderful things that can be wild harvested this time of the year. And we started to talk about some of the fruit.
And I know that there are other fruits that you like to harvest this time of the year, including some of the plums that are available.
[00:12:43.700] - Linda Conroy, Guest
One is since I'm a wild forager, I love wild plums. And actually, it's funny because I bought my property about two years ago when there was a hedge row of wild plums in the back of the property, which I didn't know until I had been here for a little while. And yes, I love the harvest plums and put them up as a jelly or a jam and then also wild grapes. Or we're harvesting those right now, which I love to turn into a really simple syrup. I put them in honey, basically, and just mix them in and let them sit in there for a couple of weeks and then strain them.
And also, Interestingly enough, wild grapes have a yeast bloom on them. You probably see it on grapes there's like a white yeast bloom that comes on even cultivated grapes. And so I always get wild grapes and replenish my sourdough starter with the yeast from the wild fruit.
[00:13:44.220] - Candi Broeffle, Host
So tell us a little bit about that. How do you do that?
[00:13:47.430] - Linda Conroy, Guest
Okay. So I take the grapes and I put them in a bowl and I do two things once I can start a sourdough starter from scratch. And the way I would do that is just put water and flour in a bowl with the grapes, and I keep feeding it s a little bit of flour and water for, like, three to five days until it gets real bubbly. And then I strain the grapes out. And then I've captured those wild yeast and use that for a starter for bread making, cracker making, waffle, pancake making.
[00:14:18.800] - Candi Broeffle, Host
Wow. I've never even heard of that. So that is really, really fascinating, something that I'm sure all of us have learned something about today. So let's talk a little bit about, too. There's another thing that you said that you like to harvest this time of the year, which is goldenrod.
[00:14:38.460] - Linda Conroy, Guest
Goldenrod is an interesting plant because a lot of people identify as plants that are allergic to. And what we know is that actually goldenrod is not the culprit of allergies this time of year. The culprit is actually a plant called ragweed and goldenrod. Interestingly enough, as the antidote can be the treatment for relieving the symptoms that come with those all seasonal allergies at this time of the year. So we can make a tea of the goldenrod plant, or we can tincture it in alcohol and then take it to relieve our symptoms of allergies associated with ragweed.
Hickory nuts are falling off the trees right now, and it's really fun to go and harvest those because you're in companionship with the squirrel, because you see the crack nuts all over the Crown. They're harvesting them as well. And I love hickory nuts. I think they're one of the most delicious nuts anywhere, and they're abundance in the Midwest. And so those are being harvested. And then another thing a lot of people don't think to harvest. But one of the nuts to highest in protein are acorns, so we can harvest acorns.
They're super high in protein, just really nourishing good oils. They have to be leached in order to eat them because they're really high in tannins. They're very stringent. So you have to run them through water in order to wash away these tannins. But once you do that, you can grind them up. A lot of people, including myself, make a corn flour and then we use that as a base and baked goods. Muffins and pancakes. One of the things I love to make are acorn pancakes and then drizzle my wild grape syrup on top of my acorn pancakes.
[00:16:42.310] - Candi Broeffle, Host
What is it that you do with the hickory nuts? How do you prepare those?
[00:16:46.680] - Linda Conroy, Guest
Well, the ideal thing for nuts in general is to soak them in water with something formented to usually put in like spoonful of whey or spoonful of miso in the water soak them overnight. And then I love to toast them in the oven for about an hour or so. And then I'll toss. Oddly enough, I toss seaweed with them. I love real salty seaweed and eat that as a snack. And then the other thing is hickory nuts are just great and baked goods like the acorn muffins you can put the hickory nuts in the acorn muffins.
And it's fun when I make the acorn muffins and put hickory nuts in, I also use maple syrup as a sweetener, which is also a wild food. So you can do so many things and incorporate all of your wild foods into these different things that you're making. So it's really fun.
[00:17:49.020] - Candi Broeffle, Host
So we're coming into the time where you have your Mycelium Mysteries conference. So this time of the year, I'm sure there's some beautiful mushrooms that are ready to be harvested.
[00:17:58.750] - Linda Conroy, Guest
So they really are. We were out a couple of days ago and harvested giant puffball mushrooms, which are like a soccer ball in the woods. It's always so like to find them because like magic, the big giant ball in the woods and then one that chicken of the woods are saprotrophic is a choice mushroom we harvested that the other day as well. And I use that in place of chicken and recipes. It actually has a very similar texture and even has a little bit of the flavor of chicken.
So we made saprotrophic wild rice like a refried chicken, wild rice and mocked chicken, of course. But there's just so many out there right now and right after it rains is the best time to go out looking so people can keep it. Hopefully, we'll have some more rain soon. And the mushrooms just exploded with the rains. \
[00:19:01.200] - Candi Broeffle, Host
Yes, and this week we've actually had quite a bit of rain here in Minnesota. So it'll be interesting to see what people can find in the woods now that the rain has come through, and we have some of that humid heat that's also following up behind it.
[00:19:14.430] - Linda Conroy, Guest
Right. And the mushrooms like that as well. They really like to come out when it's humid.
[00:19:20.140] - Candi Broeffle, Host
One of the things that you and I had talked about before we started talking to show here was about a new curriculum that is being developed, including mushrooms into our sciences that are taught to our children. So tell us a bit about that.
[00:19:37.580] - Linda Conroy, Guest
Yes. So historically, we've had flora and fauna as part of our curriculum. So learning about plants and shrubs and even trees, but no one ever talks about about mushrooms. There are kind of this other anomaly that people are kind of nervous around and don't understand. So there's mycologists who we have had teach for our conference. She's from Chile. Her name is Juliana Furci and her life work, and her organization has been working to get mushrooms included in school based curriculums and identified in even government organizations as something that that we include.
When we talk about flora and fauna, we actually talk about flora, fauna and funga, which include mushrooms to be part of something we would learn about. It's almost unbelievable that we don't learn about it because mushrooms are integral to all of life.
[00:20:38.680] - Candi Broeffle, Host
So for people who want to learn more about the work Linda does visit MoonwiseHerbs.com. You're listening to Green Tea Conversations on the Am950, the Progressive Voice of Minnesota, and we will be right back.
[00:21:06.680] - Candi Broeffle, Host
Welcome back to Green Tea Conversations, where we delve into the pages of Natural Awakenings magazine and talk to the professionals who share their expertise on natural health with you. I'm your host, Candi Broeffle, and we are visiting with Linda Conroy, owner of Moonwise Herbs in Stoughton, Wisconsin, and founder of the Midwest Women's Herbal Conference.
So, Linda, the last time you were here with us for the Mycelium Mysteries Conference, which was last fall, we started to talk about how mushrooms actually communicate, and we all know communication is so important in our world, right, the way that we communicate with each other.
But one of the things that I find so interesting and you had shared this with me before we started the show is what you call the intelligence of trees.
[00:21:56.220] - Linda Conroy, Guest
Well, trees are a major player and the environment that they live in. And they have these relationships with actually all of the other plants and the critters, and they have a lot of intelligence. So they're continually sending out food, sharing resources with all of the other beings. And just a quick example, like, I have maple trees in the early spring and a lot of people here in the Midwest. And when I first started learning how to do this, I was so amazed by the relationship that the maple trees have with birds, like woodpeckers will go and they'll tap the tree and the sap will start coming out of the tree where they'll tap it.
And then the reason they do that is they set off to the side and wait for bugs to come to get the sap. And so then the bird eat the bugs. And so in nature, I mean, this is continual in nature. There's these continual networks where everybody's sharing resources. So there are certain types of mushrooms. One type of mushroom is a mycorrhizal mushroom. And those mushrooms wrap their hyphae or their communication networks, wrap their bodies around tree roots. And then there's this communication and symbiotic relationship.
The mycelium or the hyphae from the mushroom, which is the root system of the mushroom, connect with the root system of the tree, and they sick share resources. And the mushrooms get fe, and the mycelium brings water and other nutrients to the tree. And they have the symbiotic relationship. So the trees now the particular mushrooms that they have that relationship with. Like, for example, you'll find on the shiitake mushroom, or some people call it Hen of the Woods, it grows at the base of oak trees because that has a very distinct relationship.
So one of the things we always suggest people, too, is when you're learning about mushrooms, you want to be learning about trees because you'll know which mushrooms to find in what area depending on what tree is there.
Now, I've heard this often that trees have an intellechi, and that basically, for example, the intellechi of an acorn is to become an oak tree. And so they know their role in the ecosystem, all the trees. The other thing is that we have a speaker she's going to speak for us in the next spring at our Midwest Women's Herbal Conference, she wrote a book called Finding the Mother Tree.
Her name is Suzanne Simard, and one of her findings that she has done a lot of research on trees in their relationship with the environment is that mother trees actually know which sapling was in the environment or theirs, and they specifically send out nutrition to their saplings. And so it's so interesting because we don't think about trees having familial relationships, but they do. And so there's all this stuff happening. So one of the things I'm always aware of it is we disrupt any one thing in the environment say, we cut down a tree, we've disrupted all these other interfaces in the environment.
And so it's really important to keep this in mind as we're going forward and trying to restore what's happening in the environment. And even when we're foraging, it's good for us to be aware. Say, we harvest mushrooms and we harvest the fruiting bodies. We don't want to go and disturb the root systems because the mycelium because it still needs to be there so that the trees and the mycellium can be there and that mushroom continue to fruit the future. So.
[00:25:45.850] - Candi Broeffle, Host
We started to kind of mention about the Mycelium Mysteries conference, which is actually coming up in September, September 24 through the 26th.
[00:25:56.190] - Linda Conroy, Guest
[00:25:57.600] - Candi Broeffle, Host
This year it's going to be in person, correct.
[00:25:59.560] - Linda Conroy, Guest
It is. Yes.
[00:26:01.320] - Candi Broeffle, Host
And so where is it being held at?
[00:26:03.030] - Linda Conroy, Guest
It's being held in Dodge, Wisconsin. And there's the retreat center where will be. And there's a state park. So we have thousands of acres to explore. And fall is an optimal time for mushroom foraging. So we chose the time of year and we chose the location. Looking at that, there's a lot of diversity of trees in this location. So we should find a lot of different kinds of mushrooms. It's our intent as long as the weather is just right. Most mushroom hunters love when it rains because we know there's gonna be more abundance of mushrooms fruiting out out and about if we go out after it rains.
[00:26:44.490] - Candi Broeffle, Host
Now, this this is a three day conference.
[00:26:47.850] - Linda Conroy, Guest
[00:26:48.880] - Candi Broeffle, Host
And how many people do you usually have that attend?
[00:26:52.260] - Linda Conroy, Guest
Well, we've had as many as 200 women attend. We are in our fifth year. This will be our fifth conference. Last year we held it virtually so. Actually, any of your listeners who aren't able to attend, we do have recordings from last year's event for sale on our website at MidwestWomensHerbal.com. And those recordings came out beautifully. If people do want to do some learning and for some reason they're not able or not comfortable attending. Yes, we're going to be in person. Lots of walks over the weekend.
We have two tree walks. As a matter of fact, we're talking about trees because, as I said, learning about trees is an important component for a mushroom forager to be aware of their environment. In addition to the weekend, we have some pre conference and post conference workshops that are happening and one that's happening that is so amazing. There's a woman, Elissa Allen. She's from Washington State. She'll be coming in to teach people on dyeing fibers with mushrooms and lichens. And the colors that come from mushrooms and lichens is just mind-boggling.
I mean, magentas and purples. And you look at the likes of mushrooms, and until you boil them down, and sometimes you're adding a Morgans or whatever you're doing, you don't know what color you're gonna get. And so she has a lot of expertise. So the students in that workshop, that's a special pre conference or post conference workshop. People can come to where you'll go out in the field, look at mushrooms, come back, make dye pots and learn how to actually dye fabrics with mushrooms and lichens, so.
[00:28:35.133] - Candi Broeffle, Host
I saw that on your website. And that is fantastic. And there are so many people who are into the fabric or textile art, too. So what a really interesting way to take it to that next level as well. So you also have you kind of mentioned it earlier about citizen scientists, and this conference helps people to become actually citizen scientists. What do you mean by that?
[00:29:04.300] - Linda Conroy, Guest
I mean, what we mean by that? And actually the mushroom world is a place where I've been really strongly introduced to this concept is that people who are out in the field actually become part of the growing body of knowledge about mushrooms. And the mushroom knowledge is just on the precipice of growing. It's something we don't know a lot about that. We're trying to create the structures to increase our knowledge. It is often said that only 5% of the mushrooms have actually been identified. So that means we have that 95% of mushrooms on the planet have not actually been named and identified, which, you know, I mean, we're never gonna be as it's a lot.
We had a game and identify everything. But that's a whole canvas to explore. And so when someone we had, Joanna Furci, who is a mycologist from Chile, spoke for us last year, and she's going to be on a panel this year talking about her work as well. We're going to stream her into the conference because of travel restrictions. But she is going to be talking to us Chile and sharing with us about her work. And her work is to try to get a what she's calling funga.
We have the flora, fauna, and funga is the term she coined into the mainstream educational systems throughout the world. So we start not only learning about plants, which most of us. I remember learning about bptany in public school, but bringing the mushrooms in because it's not something people learn about. And so looking at bringing that in. And as a citizen scientist, if you come across a mushroom that you don't think has ever been cataloged, you can actually collect the specimen, and you can submit them for exploration to see if they have ever been catalogued or not.
And so some of the work that Juliana does and brings to the table is teaching people how to prepare them and send them in and submit them and then be a part of this growing body of knowledge.
[00:31:13.610] - Candi Broeffle, Host
So you can become a scientist just out in nature and really helping to identify some of that 95% of the mushrooms that may not have been identified yet.
[00:31:24.710] - Linda Conroy, Guest
Right. And then also contributing to other factors about the mushrooms, identifying characteristics, unique growing habits. I mean, there's all kinds of things that we still need to want to learn in the Midwest is an incredible place for mushroom foraging and forging in general, because we have so many different ecosystems and habitats. We have shorelines, we have prairies, we have deciduous forest. I mean, we have so many different environments, so that means we have a lot of diversity of plants and mushrooms. And it's really an exciting region of the country to be in the world really to be forging.
[00:32:03.670] - Candi Broeffle, Host
So now you were saying earlier to me before we got onto the show that the Midwest actually has several different ecosystems that make it really interesting, like you were just saying for mushrooms, but also for doing some of the wild food harvesting.
[00:32:21.060] - Linda Conroy, Guest
Yes, absolutely. Like I said, there's beaches which have their own unique, but there's actually a mustard that likes to grow along with beaches called Sea Rocket, which I love to harvest. It's spicy and it's kind of like dense. It's got like a crunchy aspect to it. And so it's a wonderful in stirfrys and that grows on beaches. And then I was in the northwoods just a couple of days ago, and harvested some wintergreen leaves, which I can either make a tea. Or what I like to do with wintergreen leaves is chop them up or a small and poor honey on them.
And then infuse and the flavor of the honey with wintergreen. I also harvested a plant called Sweet Fern. And Sweet Fern is a it's a sweet plant that you make a tea. From that, it looks like a Fern. It's actually not a fern but it looks like it. So that only grows in sandy soil, so it doesn't grow where I'm, neither of those wintergreen or Sweet Fern don't grow where I live, they grow in the more northwest forest, like the tamarack forest.
[00:33:30.540] - Candi Broeffle, Host
It is so interesting. You have so many things that people can do, and you really have a plethora of classes and workshops and trips that you offer on your website. So I highly encourage people if you want to learn more to go to Linda's website, which is MoonWiseHerbs.com.
To learn more about my Mycelium Mysteries Conference and to register, go to MidwestWomensHerbal.com. You can read the online version of Natural Awakenings magazine by visiting NaturalTwinCities.com. You can find a podcast of this show on AM950Radio.com on Apple and Google podcast and anywhere you get your podcasts. You're listening to Green Tea Conversations on AM950. The Progressive Voice of Minnesota, and we will be right back.
[00:34:31.720] - Candi Broeffle, Host
Welcome back to Green Tea Conversations. I'm your host, Candi Broeffle, and today we're visiting with Linda Conroy, owner of Moonwise Herbs in Stoughton, Wisconsin, and founder of the Midwest Women's Herbal Conference.
So we have started to talk about the conference that is coming up. And this is again your fifth annual Mycelium Mysteries Conference, which is being held the 24th through the 26th at Bethel Horizons in Dodgeville, Wisconsin. This year the conference will focus on understanding fungi as the grandmothers of our ecosystems share with us what that means.
[00:35:11.020] - Linda Conroy, Guest
So one of the things that a visual for this is a friend of mine who teaches for the conference Dr. Cornelia Cho. She always shows us this graph in her PowerPoints. And in that graph, she shows us kind of a timeline and the beginning timeline. We have mushrooms and then a little bit later on the timeline, you have plants and then a little bit later come people. And so what this detects is that mushrooms have been here a lot longer than we have. And plants have also been here a lot longer than we have.
And so one of my students recently said, Well, does it really matter. And I suggest it does matter because plants are and mushrooms are on their own journey. It isn't about us. We just we just happened to be on the journey. We came along later, but they were already on a journey and they've been on this planet a lot longer than we have. So in a lot of ways, they are ancestors. And, you know, a lot of earth centered cultures around the world, including Indigenous Peoples of North America, are going to look at the plants and the mushrooms and all living beings as being guides or ancestors.
There's no way having wisdom. And so they are the grandmothers of our ecosystem. They take care of the ecosystem, the mushroom, the mycelium, they tend, they heal and nourish the ecosystem. So they are our grandmothers, the ancestors. And we can look at them and look to them for guidance about how to mimic. There's a concept called biomimicry. There's also another concept called restoration agriculture. And that type of agriculture follows nature rather than imposes on nature. So what we can do is we can actually follow what the mushrooms are doing and take their guidance.
And as a matter of fact, the mushrooms really guided me to hold a conference in their honor. We were holding a full event. It was a plant event six years ago, and I went out into the woods and everywhere I stopped, there were mushrooms. And I just got this. Ah, like we really need to have a conference to focus on the mushrooms and give them some attention, build our relationship with them because they are the ones that hold it all together.
[00:37:35.620] - Candi Broeffle, Host
Now you have a lot of speakers. You have a lot of preconference workshops. You have excellent workshop speakers that are going to be there and all that is on your website. But you have a couple of keynote speakers this year. One is Eleanor Shabbat.
Elesnor is an ethnomycologist. And basically what she's looking at is the interface between culture and people and traditions and mushrooms. And so her talk is going to be talking about specifically, some research that she's done on desert troubles. And who knew there was such a thing? But there are truffles that grow in the desert, of course, underground. And there are traditions associated in countries around the world with harvesting these mushrooms. And most of those traditions are in the hands of women that's passed on orally most women.
And that's why we hold these conferences to raise up and highlight and underscore women's voices, and partly because women's voices are tend to be oral and not as much as written down, so it doesn't get passed on and let me gather and we share the information. So Eleanor is going to share some stories from her research and from her experience about interfacing with different cultures and women's traditions associated with mushrooms.
[00:39:00.580] - Candi Broeffle, Host
Another one of your keynote speakers is a woman out of Duluth and her name is Sarah Foltz Jordan.
[00:39:07.780] - Linda Conroy, Guest
Sarah is a mycologist and she has and she's here for the conference since it's inception. She's also our advisor on choosing location on Thursday. She's leading in all day foray out in the woods, looking at identifying mushrooms and on that for people are going to harvest mushrooms, bring them back for our identification table. She's so knowledgeable so she can do the mushrooms, label them. And people can all weekend long, go to that table and see what does this mushroom look like? What is its scientific name? And then in conjunction with that, Eleanor Shabbat, who we just talked about, she is going to do tours of that table and tell stories and talk about the mushrooms, in addition to it being a self guided tour as well.
So Sara does several things for the conference. She's going to offer a keynote address called Seeing Mushrooms, and she's going to show images of some of the most unusual, unique, really wonderful mushrooms that grow here in the Midwest. And she's going to talk about of them where they grow, what's so unique about them? I mean, we have mushrooms that actually glow in the dark. We have so that stain blue. I just found some beliefs the other day that I was able to write in the blue staining right in the mushroom.
And so she's going to show images of these mushrooms and talk about them and educate because when you go on on a foray, you only see what you see in that snapshot or that season so in her PowerPoint, she'll be showing mushrooms throughout all the seasons. And mushrooms art. You tend to be very seasonal. Like, I think a lot of us have heard of morel mushroom hunting happening in the spring. Morels only grow in the spring. So if you're harvesting now, you would never see a morel unless somebody offered you an image on a screen like we're gonna do with the keynote address.
And then she'll also do an advanced mushroom identification workshop because we do have a lot of women who have been coming to our conference year after year, and they have the basics. And then it's really helpful to learn some advanced skills and mushroom identification.
[00:41:21.670] - Candi Broeffle, Host
And you also have a preconference workshop called Mushrooms in the Kitchen and Apothecary, and this is a hands-on workshop, correct?
[00:41:30.980] - Linda Conroy, Guest
Yes. We're going to be in the kitchen. I'm teaching that, and we'll be in the kitchen and we'll be actually making mushroom beverages. We'll be making mushroom pate, making salads with warmed mushrooms, wilting the greens on top. There's just so many different ways we can prepare mushrooms. I learned, and I've been practicing because I'm trying to perfect it. Lion's mane mushroom is a mushroom that's very popular right now, and it has the texture of crab. And so a lot of people are making a crab cake, and it's taken a while to perfect it for me to get the right flavors and ingredients.
And I really feel like I finally have it perfected. And so we'll be making and sampling some crab cakes, and then we'll make some mushroom medicine as well, some tinctures and not come things like that.
[00:42:20.530] - Candi Broeffle, Host
Well, it is going to be a weekend just full of knowledge, full of companionship, getting together finally and being able to spend time with one another and just so much learning that's going to be done in that weekend. So Congratulations on that. For people who want to learn more and want to register for the Mycelium Mysteries Conference, visit MidwestWomensHerbal.com and to learn more about the work that Linda does visit MoonwiseHerbs.com.
Well, Linda, thank you so much for being with us today. It's always a pleasure and goes by way too fast. But we'll look forward to having you back very soon.
Thank you. It's my pleasure. I always enjoy being with you.
You've been listening to Green Tea Conversations on AM950, The Progressive Voice of Minnesota, and I am wishing for you a lovely day.