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Sonoma County Gazette
Volunteer cooks prepping the generously donated produce at Backyard Restaurant.

Sonoma Strong – Foodies and farmers cook for fire responders

Nov 20, 2017


By Aspen Madrone

As the recent North Bay fires raged, confusion, grief and shock gripped the entire community. In the depths of this chaos, local businesses, farmers, chefs, and wellness professionals came together to support the evacuees, volunteers and first responders with hot meals, holistic services, child care, and moral support. It was truly inspiring to see the care and generosity of the people who rallied offering so much support that within three days of the outbreak places were turning away donations and volunteers.

Chef Jodie Rubin sauted 150 lbs of trumpet mushrooms at Backyard.

During the disaster, roads were impassable, schools were closed for weeks, yet the farms still needed tending, harvesting and processing. Gourmet Mushrooms had limited staff for three days but the mushrooms still needed to be harvested on schedule to be top quality. Fortunately, the 800 lbs of ripe Trumpet mushrooms were put to good use. Backyard Restaurant in Forestville turned their kitchen into a much-needed community cooking center. Chefs Daniel Kedan and Marianna Gardenhire, the husband and wife team tapped their supply network and a cornucopia of farm fresh produce, meats, breads and cheese appeared like magic by the truck load. Tireless chefs and creative cooks made meals around the clock while dozens of other volunteers prepared ingredients and coordinated food deliveries for over ten days. Meals for 700 people? “No problem!” said Backyard!

The Ceres Community Project is a Sebastopol-based non-profit that provides meals for critically ill patients. During the crisis they engaged their staff, volunteers, and teen chefs to cook more than 35 times their normal weekly output, providing nutritious meals for upwards of 500 people at a time. They rose to the challenge of nourishing the weary ones and made sure the abundance of Trumpets found their way to hungry bellies at the three Sebastopol shelters with mushroom frittatas, soups, salads, sandwiches and nutrient dense dinners.

Integrative Healing Clinic to support first responders at Alliance Redwoods in Camp Meeker - Photo by Misha Miller

Practitioners, bodyworkers, and herbalists mobilized immediately to create dozens of pop-up Integrative Healing Clinics at base camps and shelters. Farmacopia, a natural apothecary and clinic, was integral in protecting the health of the community by giving out N95 masks, herbal supplements and sharing essential self-care tips. The Nutraceutical Department here at Mycopia was honored to provide powered Turkey Tail mushrooms to distribute to people with compromised health. Massage therapist Rebecca Heartfly wouldn’t take no for an answer, she was among the first to surprise firefighters with healing treatments at the base camps. Jenny Harrow, a coordinator at the clinics said; “Together we are changing the model of what emergency response looks like with healing touch, herbal support, and a dedicated community of healers volunteering their time with compassion and love.”

The resiliency of the people was seen and felt through sharing essential information and pitching in to help made the hard moments easier. With at least 43 fatalities and hundreds of millions in property damage, the North Bay firestorm of 2017 will go down as one of the worst disasters in California history, with virtually everyone somehow touched by the grief and loss. Here at Gourmet Mushrooms we’re committed to offering continued support as the long rebuilding process begins. Despite having as few as 3 of our 80 team members available at times during the crisis, we opened our doors for child care while the schools were closed and made sure all of our ready-to-eat mushrooms found their way to hungry folks. Several families on our team lost their homes, and we are actively assisting them with their rebuilding needs directly and with the funds from our weekly CropMobster sales.

mushrooms used in wattles for protecting waterways from fire toxins

Here at Gourmet Mushrooms we’re proud to be contributing as together we can recover from this disaster and emerge stronger and healthier than before. Sonoma Recovers is a go to spot to match the needs of the community to services and assistance. We appreciate your kind support and trust that we will continue the good work of bringing the magic of mycelium to the world together for many years to come!

Gourmet Mushrooms, Inc. - Growers of MYCOPIA brand culinary mushrooms, and MYCOBIOTIC


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