This Beautiful Human Harvests Mushrooms And Through A Relationship With The Land, Brings Awareness To Underrepresented Populations Of People & Plant Species
We had the amazing opportunity to connect with Indy - a woman who spends 9 months out of the year cultivating mushrooms and spends the entire year inspiring spiritual healing and environmental stewardship.
CHECK OUT THIS INTERVIEW:
What is your passion and how do you use Instagram to share that with your followers / supporters?
My passion is bringing light and awareness to underserved and under represented populations. Sometimes, these populations are folks of color, non-binary and queer folks, or people from historically oppressed populations. Other times I bring awareness to 'populations' of endangered species or attempt to bring awareness to over-harvested plants and fungi. I try to create conversation on Instagram around these topics, I try to learn as much from my followers as they might learn from me. I want my Instagram to be a safe-space for individuals to not just connect with me, but to connect with one another. While I want to create a safe and inclusive space always, I also like to ask questions or present ideas that are on the 'edge'. In permaculture, we say that growth happens on the 'edge' where the forest meets the field or where the mountains meet the valleys. I like to think that my Instagram account is kind of 'on the edge' too I try to ask questions that make others think about how their existence impacts other people, plants, and places.
How do you define sustainability?
For me sustainability is all about reciprocity. If your intention is to take from the earth, then hopefully you have three things that you can return to the earth as well. I think its not only important to be environmentally sustainable, but mentally and spiritually sustainable. I often ask people where they are putting their energy. Are they squandering away their essence in order to educate others? How can we, as individuals educate one another without losing any of our own vibrancy and without sacrificing our well being? Sustainability is a process. I think I'm still trying to figure it out.
What does it mean to be a "mushroom cultivator" and how are mushrooms important in your life?
My partner and I grow shiitake mushrooms and oyster mushrooms outdoors on logs. 9 months out of the year we are actively processing trees, inoculating logs, harvesting mushrooms and selling them. I also create value added products with our mushrooms such as mushroom salt and herb blends, mushroom infused honeys, and mushroom tinctures. Recently, we even collaborated with a local brewery to create a mushroom beer!
Does being a Black Womxn/ WOC/POC inspire your work/passion?
Being a POC is magical. I work with all POC to manage a community garden in a predominantly African American neighborhood. I'm constantly inspired by this little community of growers and creators who are reclaiming the land and stepping up as stewards of our spaces. We are making such a drastic shift from the sordid history of the United States. The idea that was introduced by the so called 'settlers' and their folk, that people and places can be owned is actively being dismantled in our little garden plot. Just like its immoral to own another individual, I think its immoral to believe that any human can own the land. We are here as stewards and guides to restore the earth to her rightful nature.
Do you believe that Black women are spiritually connected to the land and if so how?
Black women are stewards of the land, born of the land, and blessed by the land. Our skin the color of rich soil varying from red clay sisters of the carribbean, to humus loam sisters of east Africa, and topsoil sisters of the Americas. And in that regard black women have been treated like the land by so many: degraded, used, trampled upon, and eroded. But we are reclaiming our stake, putting down our roots, and growing stronger and more resilient as a community. Ive been reading a lot about soil science recently and how important it is to rebuild our soils and replenish nutrients through thoughtful planting of cover crops and amendments. It’s time for others to realize that maybe black women deserve some amendment and replenishment as well.
Where are you geographically located and how does that influence your state mind and/or work?
I live in a valley in the Appalachian mountains of North Carolina. My town is not very racially diverse so that definitely influences my ties to the community. I think, because this is one of the least diverse places I've lived, I've felt more called to empower my POC community and actually speak up for our right to exist. When there are so few POC around, there is no option of being silent, there is not waiting around for someone else to speak up for your identity or your needs. You have to make your own way and pave your own path.
Is there anything that you're looking forward to in the near future?
I'm so looking forward to planting! I've got my seed catalogs spread out everywhere and i've been circling exciting cultivars with my pens like kids circle toys they want in magazines. Spring is such a lovely time of year, and I can't wait for the color to return.