History of the Mount Pisgah Arboretum Mushroom Festival

Festival Poster

How does the Cascade Mycological Society (CMS) fit in with the fall Mushroom Festival at Mount Pisgah Arboretum (MPA)? Well, CMS is a 501c3 educational non-profit organization incorporated in 1999 “to study fungi; to educate members and the public about fungal identification and ecology; to promote conservation of fungi; to promote safety in the gathering and consumption of edible fungi and to HAVE FUN! CMS’s annual participation in the fall Mushroom Festival at Mount Pisgah Arboretum satisfies all of these goals!

The group’s history is intricately tied in with that of the Mt. Pisgah Arboretum as well as Lane Community College (LCC). The three community organizations have connecting threads just like the mycelial strands that tie together mushrooms and their habitats.

Freeman Rowe

Freeman Rowe

Freeman Rowe and Marcia Peeters were early originators and the incredible energy behind Mt. Pisgah Arboretum’s annual fall fundraising event, the MPA Mushroom Festival. They still grace the Mushroom Festival with their huge talent and dedication, providing critical organizational and identification skills that keep the mushroom display one of the best around. You are invited to bring your mystery fungi to the Identification Table at the show; and whether or not you bring specimens, don’t forget to pop in and say hi to these fine fungal celebrities!

But what is the Lane Community College connection? Freeman Rowe taught botany at LCC for many years, and also originated the incredibly popular Biology of Mushrooms class, which he taught until his retirement in 1996. The class remains popular, and today is taught by Susie Holmes, one of Freeman’s alumni and former teaching assistants.

Cascade Mycological Society grew like a beautiful wild mushroom from the fertile mycelium of the LCC class and the MPA Mushroom Festival. CMS was originally developed and incorporated primarily by enthusiastic students of Freeman Rowe’s at LCC, and today many CMS members are past or present students of the Biology of Mushrooms class – more than a few of them repeat enrollees!

The MPA Mushroom Festival is today still supported by LCC, especially participants of the Biology of Mushrooms class. Together with members of CMS and many volunteers from the community at large, students have historically provided critical volunteer labor for collecting and setting up one of the largest fungal displays on the west coast, with named species numbering over 300 each year. Volunteers for the show contribute hundreds of hours each year, to collect, identify, and display these ephemeral marvels of nature, beauty, and intrigue.

CMS is pleased to help MPA organize this important fundraiser. And we welcome new members as we begin a new fungal season of forays, talks, and special events.