JAY — A workshop session on using mycoforestry practices to grow Chaga mushrooms in Maine forests will take place on Wednesday, May 17, at Spruce Mountain High School starting at 6 p.m. Nikki Leroux and Justin Triquet of JustNiks Mycosilva LLC will lead the workshop and explain how Chaga can be grown in Maine forests.

Chaga is a mushroom that grows on birch and other trees and it is highly valued for its antioxidants and beneficial compounds. It can be consumed in tinctures and herbal tea as a dietary supplement. Consuming Chaga mushrooms as part of a healthy, balanced diet may help reduce stress, support the immune system, and may lower cholesterol.

The workshop is open to the public and will begin in the Concert Entrance Parking Lot at Spruce Mountain High School.

JustNiks Mycosilva cultivates Chaga in the forest where it grows naturally by implanting small wooden Chaga plugs into a tree, like a seed. The plugs then develop into Chaga mushrooms that can be harvested 5-7 years down the road. JustNiks Mycosilva partners with private and commercial landowners of all sizes with birch trees on their land to grow Chaga to meet the growing demand.

JustNiks Mycosilva is also exploring a partnership with Spruce Mountain High School to create the world’s first school based research Chaga farm. Working with Spruce Mountain Envirothon Advisors Rob Taylor and Ken Baker and Spruce Mountain High School students, JustNiks Mycosilva would provide the materials and technical assistance for the creation of a Chaga farm in the forest land owned by RSU 73 near Spruce Mountain High School.

Students could then gather data on a number of factors regarding the cultivation of Chaga, including measuring growth rates, testing the mushroom’s ability to grow on a variety of species, and measuring the impact of the mycoforestry practices on the forest ecosystem. According to Rob Taylor,

“This could be a great opportunity to get students involved in doing real world science and learn about an industry in its infancy.” When the Chaga on school property is mature, JustNiks Mycosilva will buy back the Chaga from the school and the proceeds may be donated to RSU 73 to benefit Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math Programs. Such a proposal would require support from the RSU 73 School Board.

The workshop is free and open to the public. No registration is required. The first part of the program will run from 6-6:45 p.m. and will include a demonstration of how Chaga plugs are inserted in trees. Participants should wear outdoor clothing and be prepared for a brief walk in the woods. The session will be followed by a question and answer period.

Following the presentation and Q and A, anyone interested in learning more about a potential school based Chaga research farm can attend a meeting in the Spruce Mountain High School cafeteria. For more information, contact Rob Taylor at [email protected] or visit https://justniksmycosilva.com/.

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