Tradd Cotter Returns To Telluride Mushfest 2013

Tradd Cotter

Tradd Cotter

Political infighting, upheavals in the Mideast, fallen idols; all the brooding headlines don’t change the fact that hope for the planet springs eternal – from the ground up. We are talking about mycelia and their fruit, mushrooms. Just ask winning entrepreneur Tradd Cotter, a speaker at the 32nd annual Telluride Mushroom Festival, Thursday, August 15 – Sunday, August 18, 2012, billed as “nation’s oldest mycological conference exploring all things fungal & entheogenic.”

Tradd is rad.

In 2011, at 38 years old, he went back to school and won Clemson University’s “Student Entrepreneur of the Year.”

Last March, he and his wife Olga placed second at the Atlantic Coast Conference’s “Start-up Madness” competition, beating out students from undergraduate and graduate schools across the country. Theirs was the only agricultural product. This March, Tradd visited Haiti, where he started a myco-remediation project. He is scheduled for another few visits this fall.

“We are setting up a crowd sourcing fundraiser for a documentary about the trip and will release it as soon as the editor is done cutting,” he explained.

Since he was last in town, Tradd produced a book on cultivation and myco-remediation – using fungi to remediate, or heal, human caused impacts on our environment –“Organic Mushroom Cultivation and Myco-remediation for Everyone,” with supplemental chapters on everything from making myco-brews to novel antibiotics and teaching suggestions for K-12 through collegiate research. In the manuscript, Tradd reveals his new procedure for discovering novel antibiotics and and compounds from fungi. (Patent pending on the process.)

Building off of their existing cultivation business in which one Petri dish sample is used to produce up to 1 million pounds of fungi, Tradd and Olga created Mushroom Mountain to explore how different mushrooms can be used in various industries. The venue just added a new 8,000 square foot lab and the non-stop couple is now busy acquiring 30,000 square feet more for research and production to help fund their projects here and abroad. At Telluride Mushroom Festival, leading the myco-remediation tracks with Ja Schindler and Scott Koch, Tradd will be examining mine tailings and area opportunities for homeowners and businesses to contribute to the whole.

“I myself will most likely focus on homeowner remediation strategies for pets and livestock, to recycling and eventually teaching fungal/bacterial interactions for co-cultivation and species sequencing.”

Tradd is also one of the featured teachers for the Festival’s Myco-remediation Certification Course.

Tradd's wife Olga pointing the way to Mushroom Mountain

Tradd’s wife Olga pointing the way to Mushroom Mountain

There are no prerequisites, but there are attendance requirements. There are two required presentations each morning (Thursday, Friday, Saturday) by either Tradd or Ja. Morning presentations start with a beginner’s look and offer theory. There  is an afternoon workshop to attend with Ja, Tradd, and other guest instructors. These workshops extrapolate the big ideas from the morning, delving deep into their applications in our landscapes. Students are encouraged to take notes, there will be some homework, and further/supplementary reading. Some of the projects are focused on a study remediating mine tailing sites; other sites are all about reducing human impacts from festivals and other forms of recreation; still others deal with surface run-off issues in the local watershed.

Tradd Cotter has been tissue-culturing, collecting native fungi in the Southeast, and cultivating both commercially and experimentally for 21 years. He started Mushroom Mountain in 1996. About nine years ago, Tradd began expanding into other areas such as myco-remediation, fungal-based pesticides, and other products that could help protect against environmental pollution and overcrowding pressure. His big interest is in low-tech/no-tech cultivation strategies so anyone can grow mushrooms on just about anything, anywhere in the world.
Many remember Tradd for his myco-infused beer, introduced at last year’s festival and now Smuggler’s best-selling brew.

Tradd and Olga will also be contestants in the Wilkinson Public Library’s 3rd annal mushroom cook off, Friday, August 16. 11 a.m. – 3 p.m.

“Top secret recipes, it will be competitive and fun!”

To learn more about Tradd, his life and work (they are pretty much the same) and the Telluride Mushroom Fest, click the “play” button and listen to our chat.

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