Fungi seminar and workshops with Alison Pouliot

Report on the recent Fungi seminar and workshops presented by Alison Pouliot

It has been a very busy few days for the Torquay Landcare Group Committee as we hosted Alison Pouliot international photographer and Fungi expert. Alison was involved in presenting a Friday evening open seminar ‘Cafe Champignon’, Saturday workshop ‘Earthy Incarnations’ and Sunday workshop ‘Visualising the Environment’.

Each event began with participants having the opportunity to look at an extensive display of fungi that Alison had collected on her local travels.The photograph gives you some idea of the variety she found. This year Alison included vegetation from the site where the fungi had been collected so there was a further reference that observers could use. 

Friday evening gave participants an understanding of the natural and cultural histories of fungi, with the emphasis on them being the great recyclers of the world. Alison detailed the way fungi and mycelium in particular build soil structure, and work to provide flora with greater access to vital nutrients beyond the normal NPK.

Questions were constantly being asked, the discussion was lively, and continued as everyone enjoyed a light supper at the conclusion of the evening.

Saturday was an intense workshop looking very closely at fungi identification, and cultural aspects such as edibility and toxicity. At one point Alison presented the participants with a basket of mushrooms asking that they each take one and identify whether it was edible or not. The excuse was that she had selected two varieties (edible and non edible) and they had become mixed up when her basket had fallen from the car seat. This really emphasised what a skill it is to be able to select the right one. The afternoon was down at Coastal Forest Lodge to search for Fungi, and thanks to our recent rain there was plenty to see.

Sunday was a complete change of focus, with the emphasis on photography. Alison had asked participants if they would send in 2 photographs to her. One an ‘information’ image the other an ‘inspirational ‘image’. This set the foundation for the rest of the session as it provided for both the theoretical and practical components of photography, as well as focussing on the development of observational, and analytical and creative skills. The afternoon field trip was damp but once again the enthusiasm of everyone went beyond worrying about a bit of rain. Interestingly once again the Fungi became a focus of attention.

Hearing Alison talk is quite an experience, her wealth of knowledge across both subjects is immense, but it is the way she can talk to a theme, answer questions and add anecdotes all without a pause, or thought, and do so with great passion that makes her an excellent presenter.

These were events not to missed and the response from participants has been very positive.

Thank you to the Surf Coast Shire and Surf Coast and Inland Plains Network for supporting these events.

Thank you also to Coastal Forest Lodge for hosting the filed trips, and Freshwater Creek Cakes and Little Feast (Aireys) for the catering.