We attended the 2018 NAMA Annual Foray in Salem, Oregon this year and are compelled to offer rave reviews. This was our first time attending the event and we give it high marks for being well organized, educational, fun and affordable. The three day event was October 11-14th at the Macleay Conference Center in Salem, Oregon.
Central to the NAMA annual foray are, naturally, the forays: there were several full and half-day forays offered each day. They were well organized, well attended and targeted a diverse array of locations. We really appreciated the foray planning guide that NAMA provided us at check in. The guide listed all the forays with detailed information to help us choose the right adventure.
Normally, a mushroom focused foray has a leader (mycologist or ID expert) who guides a group of 10-20 people into the woods. Your guide will often help to identify the mushrooms everyone finds and share fun information and lore about mushrooms, trees and and nature. Attendees run the gamut from never-ever newbies to highly knowledgeable people – it is usually a mix. The NAMA forays were different. Most people had a working knowledge of some fungi. Everyone left the parking area in little groups and returned with baskets of mushrooms. There was no mycologist leading the group. Instead, folks took their findings back to the ID room (or gymnasium in this case) and left them for further identification. From there, a large group of expert identifiers sorted the mushrooms, ID’d them, extracted DNA samples, took photos and then put the mushrooms out on display. At the end of the event, all the mushrooms samples are sent to the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago to be catalogued in their herbarium.
We personally did two full-day forays:
- Day One: South Beach State Park, Newport, Oregon. This foray was in the coastal dunes right next to the ocean. The coastal dunes feature two prominent trees: Shore Pine and Sitka Spruce. These trees are home to mycorrhizal mushrooms like King Boletes, Chanterelles and Matsutakes to name just a few. We wandered the dunes for a few hours and found lots of mushrooms, especially King Boletes.
- Day Two: Big Meadows, Willamette National Forest. This foray featured an old growth Engelmann spruce stand at 3600 feet elevation. Many Douglas firs, Western Hemlocks, Grand Firs and Pacific silver firs were mixed in. We traipsed around the forest for several hours, sometimes alone and sometimes with other people. We didn’t find as many yummy mushrooms as on the coast, but found a much greater variety.
More Than Just Forays
Forays aren’t the only thing going on at NAMA events. They hosted a whole series of world class presenters who talked about science, cooking, dying, microscopy, cultivation, spalting, lichens and more… much more! Plus, they served us three square meals a day and hosted an after hours social each night.
Ultimately, the coolest thing at this foray surprised us. It was the other mycophiles. NAMA attendees are mostly amateur mycologists, like us. Because all the attendees ate meals together, went on forays together in vans, attended lectures and demonstrations, attended socials, wore name tags and even shared accommodations, we got to meet all kinds of super cool people. We look forward to seeing many of them at the next foray! When is that? August 8-11, 2019, Paul Smith’s College in upstate New York.