[Back to the Wild] Dwight Thornton is Canada’s Wild Mushroom Huntin’ Man

You can access the full audio recording for this interview here. This interview was conducted between Alison Ramsay and Dwight Thornton as part of our Back to the Wild Summit. You can access the rest of the interviews in this series under “Natural Lifestyle” section on WISHRadio.com.

Lurking in autumn-drenched corners of our forest, popping up overnight with fairytale delight are our spore-born fungal friends. Or are they? Reishi, chaga, chanterelle, morel and even the humble puffball, wild mushrooms are becoming increasingly popular as powerful healing foods. But in a world that associates fungus with infection and even death, how do we turn our eyes to the ground and learn to forage fungus safely?

Here to introduce us to the magical world of mycellium is Dwight Thornton, who as founder of North American’s first and only mushroom hunting school is no stranger to those colorful caps.
Dwight, thank you for being here to get a little wild with us today.

Dwight Thornton: Thank you, Alison, glad to be here.

Alison: I know you have an amazing story to share. Can you tell us a bit about what led you to be the Mushroom Hunting Man of Canada?

Dwight Thornton: Well, I don’t know who’s calling me the Mushroom Man of Canada, but I can tell you this, that since 1987 I’ve really done nothing else but dedicate my life and my time to mushrooms basically. Well, as a hobby from ’87 to ’97, and then I kind of moved around a bit in British Columbia and I met a woman, her name was Betty Shore in Britannia Beach, B.C.

She kind of actually told me that I could actually sell these mushrooms that I was, you know so in love with picking. So we went to – my wife and I, Debbie, we went to work for her in her grading shed in Britannia Beach. And from there we were sent out into the mushroom fields as buying agents for her company. And I guess after – it’s pretty ironic; my career before that was – I was an arboriculturist. And how ironic it is in 1996 I took a 52-foot fall from a tree –

Alison: Wow.

Dwight Thornton: Yeah. But how ironic it is now that, you know I spent 20 years looking after the trees and now for the past 20-some years the trees are looking after me.

Alison: That’s really beautiful.

Dwight Thornton: I guess some people would call that karma.

Alison: It could be.

Dwight Thornton: Yeah, it could be. So at Fiddlehead Heaven, we – of course not just mushrooms, we harvest pretty much all wild edible foods beginning in the spring with fiddleheads of course, which is my favorite.

And they’re so good for you. So, so good for you. I don’t know if anyone’s been on my website at fiddleheadheaven.com, but any information anyone’s looking for on fiddleheads is there.

There’s some research that was done by our government here in Canada as to the nutritional values of fiddleheads and the results are amazing. There’s no fruit or vegetable in the world that’s as good for you as fiddleheads, which is the ostrich fern.

Alison: Great.

Dwight Thornton: Anyway, getting back to mushrooms – I’ll try and stay on track there.

Alison: Okay. Well let’s start with a bit of orientation into the world of mushrooms. There’s so much terminology, we’ve got spores and mycelium, toadstools, fungus. So what the heck is a mushroom and what are its parts?

So before start talking about, you know yanking them off trees and off the ground, maybe we should understand a bit more about what they are and what are their parts.

Dwight Thornton: Well, that’s kind of like trying to answer the age-old question, like which came first? The chicken or the egg.

Mushrooms have a relationship with trees and vice versa. They’re symbiotic. One cannot exist without the other believe it or not. And of course the spore is which comes first – or the tree, whichever you choose to believe.

Anyway, once the spore has attached itself to the fine hairs of the roots of the trees, if the spore likes the tree or the host, it will start to pollinate into what we call mycelium. In warm weather this is called the incubation period, or cold weather depending on the mushrooms, right?

Now the mycelium will grow and grow and grow, which is it will either create a web or it will create a mat under, you know two or three inches underneath the soil along the roots of the trees. So what happens then – like the mycelium could grow for years before an event happens, which is a trauma either to the soil or to the tree, which will induce the mycelium to fruit.

Here’s where it gets a little difficult.

I could actually write a book on just what a trauma actually is. A trauma can be a cool down, it can be a lightning strike to a tree that would incite the mycelium to fruit. That’s kind of where I’d like to stop on that question. Because it actually would take, you know four to five, six to seven days to actually, you know explain the whole thing and to run through it and to actually go into the forest and start digging into the ground to find the mycelium.

And wherever you step, you’re stepping on mycelium, and each step you take is a trauma to the soil and will incite the mycelium, if – you know if your temperatures are right, it will sprout mushrooms.

Alison: Wow. That’s amazing.

Dwight Thornton: All of those things of course I teach at my mushroom hunting school, which is why it does take so long.

It’s a full seven days.

Alison: Yeah. I love that nature has that beautiful symbiosis. I mean you find that everywhere when you start looking at the systems in nature.

But learning about mushrooms is really new to me, so it’s so interesting to hear that it is such a delicate symbiotic relationship with the decomposition of the forest and the mycelium as well.

Dwight Thornton: Well this is where I’d like to really, you know to tell people that they should watch Paul Stamets’ video on YouTube called Six Ways that Mushrooms can Save the World. It will change your view of the natural world that we live in and how important fungus is to our lives. And actually even see a mushroom sprout from the head of an ant in this video.

Dwight Thornton: People will really get a good understanding of the relationship that we have with our forest.

Alison: Awesome. Thank you.

Dwight Thornton: And how it can be related.

Alison: Awesome. Okay, so on that note, can you talk to us about some of the properties of mushrooms because they are becoming increasingly popular, but there’s still that fear of plucking mushrooms from the forest.

But yet they’re supposed to be some of the most anti-cancer, high antioxidant and nutrient dense foods that we have. So can you tell us a little bit more about why they’re becoming popularized as an amazing medicinal food, and what is it about mushrooms that is so amazing and so healing?

Dwight Thornton: Well, to tell you the truth I didn’t pay too much attention to medicinal mushrooms, you know for my first 20 years of harvesting them. I mostly was after the, you know the commercial mushrooms, your morels and your King Boletus and of course chanterelles. And well of course, you know during that time I did find, you know cordyceps in the wild – you know cordyceps and wild reishi. And you know I harvested them and I dried them and I tried them, but to tell you the truth I didn’t feel really – really feel any benefit from them other than the reishi.

In the evening I enjoyed a cup of reishi tea, which did have a calming effect and I did kind of like that. But it wasn’t until 2006 that I had reason to come home because I was actually in quite bad shape. I actually came home to die.

I had hepatitis C, and as a result of that, you involve all kinds of other ailments that go along with that including liver problems and, you know kidney problems and high blood pressure, low blood pressure, diabetes along with that. But when I came home I remembered a fellow who I met in the Queen Charlotte Islands, which is on the west most coast of Canada while I was there buying chanterelle mushrooms for a company out of Richmond in British Columbia.

And this guy was a Russian plant biology student – exchange student out of Saskatoon, and he had found a reishi that day that he’d come to sell me his mushrooms. And he was really excited about finding it. And then, you know, he started telling me a story about this other mushroom called chaga. And it wasn’t so much remembering the mushroom, but it was the story behind it, you know how his whole family would go out and harvest this mushroom, which was popular in Russia and the Ukraine and China and, you know Taiwan and Korea – Korea was a big importer from Russia of the chaga.

So when I came home I remembered what Andre had said about the chaga and all the things it was good for. So I went out, of course the east coast is full of birch trees and I did remember that he had said it only grew on birch, so I went out and I started harvesting it, which was pretty natural for me to do anyway.

Because, you know that’s just what I do. You know I love mushrooms.

So I went out and I started harvesting chaga and I started drinking the – you know it took two weeks to cure it, but the immediate effect that I felt from the chaga was – this is the same day – a big boost of energy that I started getting from drinking this tea.

A few days later I –

Alison: Sorry I was just going to say so it only took two weeks to heal hepatitis from drinking chaga tea and that’s it?

Dwight Thornton: No. No, no, no, not two weeks. It took two weeks to cure the chaga to dry it.

Alison: Oh, to cure the chaga. Sorry.

Dwight Thornton: First you have to cure it if you’re going to save it for yourself. And as soon as I started drinking the tea, you know let me say that first evening I really – people with diseases, you know like that are really drained of energy and are sluggish.

You know they’re finding now that people with Lyme’s disease, it’s really helping them with their energy levels. But anyway after about four days of drinking this tea I kind of felt like I had a little bit of a flu coming on, but it was actually – it was my body detoxing. Which I knew nothing about doing that at all, I mean I’m just a mushroom picker.

And then two days later after that I kind of had a bathroom experience that scared the hell out of me. I didn’t know that it was a natural colon cleanser as well. So anyway, it wasn’t long before, you know my family of course and my friends, they were noticing, you know the difference in me and how healthy I was becoming.

It wasn’t, you know – let’s just put it this way, within three months my diabetes was under control – my sugar levels. My high blood pressure was under control without medication. Within eight months I was negative for the hep-C virus.

And that’s my story.

And I was the first harvester in North America by the way to actually go out and harvest this mushroom.

Alison: Yeah. Wow, that is such an amazing story, Dwight. So you didn’t do anything else different except drink chaga tea, and you had this amazing healing happen?

Dwight Thornton: Absolutely. And you know what? How could I not share that. You know after what it did for me I was crazy out of my mind. I just could not believe, you know the difference in that my life had been saved – literally. But here’s the sad part of this, it was my sister, Mary, she came home two years before I did to New Brunswick. She had the same disease and she didn’t make it.

Alison: Sorry to hear that.

Dwight Thornton: I wish we could have come home at the same time; I might have saved her, you know.

Alison: Yeah. Wow. So you kind of made it your mission after that then to harvest chaga and to make it available for people.

Dwight Thornton: For sure, yes. Well when I first came home and I remembered what Andre had told me, I did call Russia. There was a company there and just for one pound – I was going to buy it because I wanted to get on this right away, but it was going to cost me over $100 for just one pound of this. And at the time I couldn’t afford it, so knowing that we had all kinds of birch trees here, that’s what, you know got me out and looking for it myself. So I did make it affordable here in North America.

Alison: Yeah. Can you talk to us a little bit more about chaga? Because it’s not your typical mushroom that grows on rotting logs or leaf litter. And can you tell us a bit about what it is and what it looks like, how it grows? And I know you are also passionate about harvesting for sustainability, so maybe you could talk to us a little bit about that as well. As chaga becomes a really popular mushroom to harvest, there are some things to consider before people start yanking them off trees.

Dwight Thornton: Oh, absolutely. And here’s the amazing thing about chaga, I never have been fond of cultivating mushrooms. Because, you know most of the medicinal mushrooms we’re talking about here, reishi, maitake, shiitake – they can all be cultivated because they’re symbiant to dead and dying debris.

Where chaga is different. Chaga is symbiant to living trees. Therefore it cannot be cultivated.

That has an attraction for me because I know that what I’m putting in my body is coming from a living source rather than a dying source. I don’t know if you can follow me on that, but that’s what really attracts me to this mushroom. And there’s something about the birch trees that, you know the spore or the parasite – let’s call it a parasite, and what is unique about birch trees is its properties of course. And that is betulinic acids and/or pentacyclic acids.

So when a trauma happens to the tree, for example lightning strikes the tree, it opens up a wound and this symbiotic spore or parasite attaches itself to the fresh wound and viola. So what we’re going to call the birch tree is the substrate or the host for the spore. And contrary to what people believe, chaga does kill the tree.

It is sucking, you know virtually eating away at the tree and taking its life force into itself. And the biggest problem we have now is it is not a renewable resource. You cannot cultivate it. What has me concerned is people out there with chisels – as I said I was an arborist for 20 years before I ever started picking mushrooms.

And so of course my first concern is for the tree and that people are out there with hatchets and chisels and chiseling into the tree and actually killing the tree to take the chaga. And that’s really upsetting to me. People are going on private properties and cutting trees down. They are here, I don’t know what they’re doing anywhere else. You know I’m really doing the best I can on my website to teach people to, you know please don’t do that, you know.

And if you are on private property, get permission, you know to do this.

But the proper way is to, you know just take what’s on the outside of the tree. Do not dig into the tree. Because once you pass that xylem and hit the pith, you kill the tree. So do not use chisels.

Alison: So what is the best way to remove the chaga off the tree? Is it just to simply pull it off? Can you – I mean I don’t know anything about it. We don’t have chaga in New Zealand, so can you just pull it off and leave what’s there? Does it grow back? Or what’s the best way to sustainably remove the chaga off the tree?

Dwight Thornton: Normally you can just hit it, you know if you hit it hard enough it will just fall off on its own. You know it is attached, but I use a hatchet of course and I have, you know a machete that I carry. And I just trim it to the trunk of the tree and I leave what’s left inside the tree to grow. And it will continue growing if you do that.

But once you go inside the tree, you’re killing the tree. Because the chaga has now become part of that tree and part of the tree’s structure.

Alison: So the chaga will continue growing. Once you remove the removable part – it will continue to grow and the tree will continue to grow over time?

Dwight Thornton: Absolutely. You know there’s pictures of my website – actually I’m going back this winter for – on the one tree that you see on my website there that I harvested first in – I guess well, almost eight years ago now. And this will be my third harvest from the same tree.

Alison: Right.

Dwight Thornton: And another thing that I would really like to – you know when people bring chaga to me, I tell them I will not buy anything smaller than a four or five pound specimen. Alison: Wow. ”

Dwight Thornton: I encourage people to leave those smaller mushrooms on the tree to grow.

Alison: Yeah.

Dwight Thornton: Because when they spore out – I mean that’s our seed for the next generation. But if they take it all and then say, you know next year that there’s a windstorm or a hurricane, then there will be nothing left to sporolate those trees.

Alison: I love that you’re so passionate about sustainability. That’s wonderful. So let’s move on from chaga and talk about some other kinds of mushrooms. Because there’s quite a few you can harvest out of our forests in North America. Can you tell us a little bit about some of the other mushrooms that you harvest that people might be able to identify or learn about that they can start harvesting now?

Dwight Thornton: Well, I wouldn’t want to be responsible for people running out into the forest tomorrow to look for some mushrooms. But my advice there is to first go with a guide who knows his stuff. But one of the most easily – I’ll give you two mushrooms that are easily recognized. And that would be the lobster mushroom, which is actually two mushrooms in one.

It’s much like the chaga mushroom. There is a parasite in the ground or a fungus or a mold or a spore that is only attracted to the white russula. And it attacks that mushroom underneath the ground and engulfs it.

And when it comes through the ground it comes through as a second mushroom, which is a lobster. This is what I mean by symbiotic, like what is it – like there’s thirty different colors of russulas but it only attacks the white one. Why just the white one?

Alison: I love that you mentioned that people need to take a guide or you don’t recommend that they just run out into the forest collecting mushrooms. And I think most people would know that. But I’d love if you could share with us maybe some most important things people should consider before they prepare for mushroom hunting. What should they avoid and are there any risks? Just what would you suggest to people who want to go out and think that foraging for mushrooms sounds pretty interesting?

What are the first steps they should take?

Dwight Thornton: Well, the first thing you should do is put on the dirtiest clothes you’ve got. Go to your laundry bag and pick out your dirtiest clothes. Become familiar with using a compass for sure. These are important things – or a GPS.

If you’re going to wander very far from the road, remember you’re looking down constantly, so it is very, very easy to get disoriented as to where you are. So those are the first things that I would recommend. The second warning is this. The reddest, most beautiful mushroom in the forest, the one that you absolutely want to pick and eat – do not touch it. The same goes for the white mushroom.

The whitest most beautiful mushroom in the forest is the one that will attract you, but that’s the one that will hurt you. And that’s called the death cap. Or the destroying angel. There’s many names for it, but it’s Amanita. Amanitas are a bad species of mushroom. There are some edibles but I don’t teach them and I don’t touch them. That’s a bit of advice. Anything red, red, red, red, red – leave it alone.

Alison: Yeah. I love those mushrooms too, they’re like big toadstools. They grow everywhere around here and they’re so beautiful. Dwight Thornton: So you have the muscaria? Alison: Yes.

Dwight Thornton: This is something that’s always, you know given me pause to think. You know you look at childhood books and the mushrooms they depict are the poisonous mushrooms.

Alison: Yes, exactly. Those big red toadstools. That’s the top of the ones all the fairies are sitting on.

Dwight Thornton: That’s right. Well, here’s an interesting story for you. My heritage is Norwegian and my ancestors would pick the Amanita pantheria. They would feed it to their horses – these mushrooms – and then in their ceremony before battle they would drink the urine from the horses. So when they went into battle they were all high on mushrooms.

Alison: Oh, my goodness. And not to try at home.

Dwight Thornton: Do not try at home. No.

Alison: Yes, there is a lot of interesting history and folklore around mushrooms, isn’t there?

Dwight Thornton: Oh, absolutely. Alison: They’re kind of a magical thing. Dwight Thornton: Well this is something I’m trying to figure out is, you know 300 years ago all of our ancestors knew every mushroom that was in the forest, you know. And they still do in European parts of the world. I mean there are still foragers.

Alison: Yeah. I know that we’ll have a lot of people interested in learning more from you, Dwight. And I know that you teach a mushroom hunting school. Even Tera is going with Sebastian. And you only take – is it six or seven students at a time?

Dwight Thornton: Only six because when you go into the forest you have no idea – and a group of six is easy to handle. People aren’t wandering off on their own and perhaps, you know damaging habitat – mushroom habitat that they – well, you know it’s annoying but they do. So that’s why I prefer small groups of people. And then I can give all my attention to each individual. Groups larger than six is hard.

Alison: Yeah.

Dwight Thornton: And I really want people to learn how to be, you know nature’s little gardeners. Because we have to look after our forests. Alison: Yeah. So could you tell us a little bit about how your mushroom hunting school works and what can people expect to experience and learn while attending?

Dwight Thornton: Oh, pretty much. That comes with a warning though, you know and it happened to me – it’s the worst addiction in the world.

Alison: Or the best.

Dwight Thornton: Once you learn how to pick mushrooms that’s all you want to do. So on the first day here we go out – of course we have orientation the first day. The next morning we go out and we just basically walk around and I point out – I will answer questions because everyone is curious about every mushroom that’s there.

Every mushroom you see, you want to know what it is. Can you eat it, can I touch it, and this is where the experience begins. This is where I start saying, you know what? I don’t know what that mushroom is and I don’t care what it is, and neither should you. We make this very simple. Very, very, very simple. Because there’s over 2,000 varieties of mushrooms out there.

Alison: Wow.

Dwight Thornton: So we focus on four mushrooms, which is chanterelle, King Boletus, lobster mushrooms and hedgehog mushrooms. And in the end of 20 years of – you know even a mycologist, I mean those are the only mushrooms he’ll go and pick for himself. So let’s start, you know the education at the top rather than at the bottom.

Alison: Yeah. Right.

Dwight Thornton: You know? And it can be that simple.

Alison: Yes. And so where do you stay? Do you stay in a cabin in the woods? Or how does it work?

Dwight Thornton: Well, we do. I have one, two, three – I have three cabins, we have a café, we have, you know a dining room of course and lots of other things to do as well. We are very remote though, as you can tell. We have our own satellite phone here. But yeah, we’re in the woods.

Alison: And you’re in New Brunswick?

Dwight Thornton: We’re in New Brunswick, Canada. Yeah. In Temperance Ville.

Alison: And so what other things do you teach aside from picking the mushrooms sustainably? Do you teach them about preserving or drying?

Dwight Thornton: Oh, absolutely. I mean it’s how to grade – now this is something somebody wouldn’t even understand, you know when I say this, you know you have to learn how to grade your mushrooms. And then you have to –

Alison: What is grading?

Dwight Thornton: Grading? Yeah, there are different grades of mushrooms, especially for, you know the commercial markets. If you’re going to be selling to restaurants and Donald Trump, I mean you don’t want to sell them old mushrooms, do you? So the most important thing is when we get to a patch and you see probably 500 mushrooms, okay, there they are. Now what?

Alison: Yeah.

Dwight Thornton: Do you cut them? Do you pull them? Do you take them all? Do you – what do you do? It’s easy to identify them, but it’s that next step – now what? This is where I teach. Okay, especially for chanterelles, you cannot take them all. If you’re going to – well, you can, but that’s it; that’s all you’re going to get. Your patch will die for the rest of the year. So I teach people how to farm them. I’d say, you know take nothing smaller than an inch and a half.

Leave them to grow. You will go back to the same place, you know four or five days later and you will continue this cycle through the season.

As they grow you will go back and four to five times you’ll harvest the same patch. But if you take them all when they’re little, little, small, small, small babies, then if you take them all they won’t grow again for the rest of the year. So you have to learn how to farm your patches, which is what I teach.

Then I teach of course the importance of, you know habitat. You have to know your trees. Because certain mushrooms are symbiant to certain trees. So of course in different parts of let’s say Canada, Chanterelles here in New Brunswick are symbiant to fir trees. In Saskatchewan, the chanterelles are symbiant to the pine and in the reindeer moss. Nova Scotia they’re symbiant to the white spruce.

So I can save you a lot of time for that way when you go back to your area to continue on your harvesting. That’s what you will learn here is where, you know say you get to know your area and what trees you have in your area so you don’t spend days and days and days and hundreds and hundreds of dollars in gas for nothing.

Alison: Well, I’d love to go to your mushroom hunting school, Dwight. Dwight Thornton: Oh, I’d love to have you.

Alison: Maybe one day when I’m in Canada.

Dwight Thornton: Oh, that would be fantastic. You would enjoy yourself. And that’s another thing, you know it’s just not about mushrooms. I teach other wild foods that are out there as well.

Alison: Wonderful.

Dwight Thornton: We basically eat all day long. We’re not even hungry when we come back to the lodge.


Alison: I love that. That’s great.

Dwight Thornton: Eating wild foods. Berries and nuts. Alison: I know that you have some beautiful stories from what you witness happens to people when they get back in communication with the natural world and start foraging and eating wild food. Can you share maybe one story that stands out for you with us?

Dwight Thornton: Well, I’m actually – you mentioned Tera and Sebastian, I’m really looking forward to meeting Sebastian to tell you the truth. Because he’s only ten years old and he already knows quite a bit.

Alison: Yeah.

Dwight Thornton: And this is where we start, Alison, we start with our children again. And this is where we start – we get them back out there and so that they will be able to survive, you know and actually enjoy being out there in the forest rather than this is – now you have a reason to go for a walk. When you leave here, now when you go for a walk you’re finding treasures.

Alison: Yeah.

Dwight Thornton: And you know you’ll go for a walk every day.

Alison: And children have such a natural affinity for nature anyway; they just love it.

Dwight Thornton: My little girl who is – well, I guess she’s 17 now, by the time she was five years old she knew more about mushrooms than probably 95 percent of the population of the world. Now, of course now she’s a teenager and doesn’t want to go anymore. But she will get back to it later in life, that’s for sure.

Alison: Yeah. She’s just busy learning about other things right now.

Dwight Thornton: Yeah. That’s a phase we’ve got to go through I guess.

Alison: Definitely.

Dwight Thornton: But the best part – listen, it’s a community thing. When you get out there with a group of people, this is – you know my gratification is when like our third day out and people will start to wander off by themselves a little bit and they will find a mushroom that I taught them about yesterday –

Alison: Yeah.

Dwight Thornton: – and it’s just that look on their face, you know – I found it.

Alison: Yeah.

Dwight Thornton: Hey, come here. Look, I found one by myself.

Alison: Yeah. That’s awesome.

Dwight Thornton: And they’re faces are just – they just beam – they beam, you know. And that’s the spirit of the forest.

Alison: Definitely.

Dwight Thornton: Yeah. Oh, yeah. And I enjoy that so much.

Alison: Yeah, I’m sure. I do too. Just when I go out in the forest. But not everyone is going to be able to have access to a big forest, or it might not be everyone’s cup of tea to go out picking mushrooms. And I know that you sell some mushrooms on your website and ship them to people.

Can you tell us a little bit more about what you sell and what people can order from you?

Dwight Thornton: Well, at this point the fresh market is so huge, I really don’t even get to dry very many mushrooms to sell. I sell mostly wholesale other than the chaga mushroom, which actually is – the prices that are on my website are wholesale. You know truly they are.

Compared to buying from Russia, these are wholesale prices. But we also do – you know we dry – okay, the important thing is like you’d actually have to be here, you know to come and go through the experience to understand, you know when I’m talking about grading.

Now a mushroom – another thing I teach people is this. Listen, if you’re going to a store and you see something, you know, if you see that, are you going to want to buy that and feed that to your children or to your wife or your husband?

It’s common sense and it’s the same thing in the forest. You know don’t pick anything that you wouldn’t feed to your family.

Alison: Yeah.

Dwight Thornton: Because there are some bad mushrooms out there, even of the good ones. I mean that’s what I mean, you run into a patch you can’t bring them all because some of them are just too old, some may have, you know slugs on them and worms, and fleas like to sting them and hatch fleas in them. So you’ve really got to – you’ve got to be knowledgeable even as a shopper when you go the store.

Alison: Yeah.

Dwight Thornton: And that’s where this helps out is, well I mean Costco – I’m sure everyone’s familiar with Costco. Emperor Specialty Foods out of Richmond, British there, they supply chanterelles, which is one of the mushrooms that I teach.

For someone who can’t get out to the forest, Costco will have probably right now as we speak will have chanterelle mushrooms. And they’re fresh on their shelves.

Alison: All right. Well, thank you for saying that. And if people want to get a hold of you, your website is fiddleheadhaven.com.

Dwight Thornton: Fiddleheadheaven.com.

Alison: Oh, it’s heaven.

Dwight Thornton: Because that’s where we live. We’re in heaven here.

Alison: Yeah. Right.

Dwight Thornton: Fiddlehead heaven.

Alison: Mushroom heaven.

Dwight Thornton: Well, before we end I’d really like to share this little story with you.

Alison: Sure.

Dwight Thornton: Because it just made me feel so good last year. This is where I – you know the community thing – there was a lady, she was having some difficulties in her marriage and her husband was a trucker, a long-haul driver. And of course he was gone all the time.

And then when he was home, he was off, you know hunting or baiting animals and really not spending any time with her at all. And she came to my school and she took the seven-day course and when she went home she took him out to show him what she learned here. And guess what? When he’s home now, especially through the summer, that’s what they’re doing, they’re out together now harvesting mushrooms. So it saved a marriage.

Alison: Wow. That’s amazing.

Dwight Thornton: Well, I’m just pretty proud of that. And that’s just what, you know being out in the forest and having those things in common will do for you.

Alison: Yeah. The power of nature, huh?

Dwight Thornton: The power of nature. You hit it right on the head right there. The power of nature.

Alison: Beautiful. Okay, Dwight, I just have one last question before you can go.

Dwight Thornton: Certainly.

Alison: And that is what is your wild wish for the people listening to this call?

Dwight Thornton: Stay healthy, stay curious – curious most of all because there’s so many wonders out there. You know stay healthy of course, eat good, there’s another world out there, go and see it. Don’t sit in your house watching TV.

Alison: Yeah. Beautiful.

Dwight Thornton: Take a course. And there’s so much to learn out there and there’s so many knowledgeable people like yourself, you know that are helping. You know I certainly appreciate that, Alison. I appreciate what Tera’s doing and, you know there’s another – I’ve got to give somebody a plug here – it’s a place called Falls Brook Center, where university students go to learn how to grow organically and they learn about wind power.

And then from there they go to, you know they send these students off to sort of third world countries and teach them how to dig a well, how to, you know put up a windmill. Hey, let’s just start that and just keep it going, you know what these people are doing, what you’re doing, what I’m doing. Mostly for our kids – let’s get them involved, get them out in the woods, get them volunteering, you know.

Alison: Definitely.

Dwight Thornton: That’s my wish.

Alison: Beautiful. Thank you so much, Dwight, for sharing your time with us.

Dwight Thornton: And come and see me. Thanks.

[Back to the Wild] Dwight Thornton is Canada’s Wild Mushroom Huntin’ Man

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