Telluride Mushroom Festival: Tradd Cotter Returns, Hair On Fire

The 37th annual Telluride Mushroom Festival takes place Thursday, August 17 – Sunday, August 20. The full schedule is here. Migrate around the site to find info on presenters, venues, book-signings etc. Or filter by topic or venue. Festival overview in detail here. Tickets/passes here.

Please scroll down to listen to a podcast featuring popular returning presenter Tradd Cotter.

“I am very outspoken about my environmental activism and concern for the planet. My expertise is in cultivating fungi and looking for exciting new applications that everyone can use on a small scale to contribute to the whole,” Tradd Cotter.

He’s back. And its happening, so you will want to, ahem, drink in all this information.

One antidote to the festival of eye rolling triggered by daily headlines comes to you in a frosty mug, thanks to myco-entrepreneur Tradd Cotter of Mushroom Mountain and the Telluride Brewing Company.

Tradd’s medicinal mycobrews are scheduled to be on tap at the launch of the 37th annual Telluride Mushroom Festival. The opening event takes place in the new Show Bar at the historic Sheridan Opera House on Wednesday, August 16, 8 p.m. and again on Thursday, 1 p.m.  – lunch time, because there is a sandwich in every beer.

Tradd Cotter is by now a familiar face – along with his business partner and wife Olga – at the Festival, having attended as a featured presenter for the past five years (since 2012).

And, as those who have been to his talks and demonstrations know, Tradd is rad.

Just ask and he will affirm the fact that hope for the planet really does spring eternal from way underground on up – in the form of mycelia and their fruit, aka mushrooms. And we need that hope more than ever because the earth is increasingly fragile due to climate change and its corollaries: mass migration and starvation. Could mushrooms provide even a partial answer to food shortages, global pandemics and more? Tradd and Olga’s Mushroom Mountain is focused on nothing less than the emerging needs of the planet.

In 2011, at age 38, Tradd returned to school and won Clemson University’s “Student Entrepreneur of the Year.” Since then, he (with Olga at his side since 2005) has been unstoppable.

Mushroom Mountain first began in 1996 as a concept for a farm of the future. It was not until 2005, when Tradd Cotter and Olga Katic met, that plans emerged for what would evolve into the coolest, privately owned mushroom research facility in the country, arguably in the world.

Olga in shroom ecstasy.

From humble beginnings – housing a laboratory in a two-bedroom apartment closet in Boynton Beach, Florida – Olga and Tradd moved the whole operation to upstate South Carolina and begin an expansion that is now a world-class laboratory and research facility. The lab was constructed to EPA and FDA standards and now houses more than 200 species of fungi, most of them native isolates from the Eastern United States. Over the past two years, spawn sales have doubled.

The facility itself occupies over 50,000 square feet of available space under one roof for cultivation, myco-remediation, and medicinal research projects, even a new (this year) university.

Mushroom Mountain U. is an online teaching platform that offers courses in everything from ways to grow mushrooms at home to tincture-making. Plans include an expansion of the facility to accommodate a library and live classrooms for indoor workshops and lectures and much more.

Also over the past year, Tradd and Olga created a medicinal extraction company, MycoMatrix, which sells additives derived from various species of mushrooms to be used to enhance a wide range of products from beer and juices to baby food, skin and pet care products.

Tradd and Olga continue to explore what mushrooms can do for the environment, including ways to clean up plastic waste and oil spills.

Could mushrooms replace pesticides? Tradd and Olga think so: at Mushroom Mountain they developed a bio (read non-chemical) pesticide against fire ants. In fact, mycopesticides is the subject of one of the many talks Tradd Cotter is giving at Mushroom Fest. Specifically on Saturday, August 19,11:30 a.m., his subject is Culturing and Maintaining Entomopathogens as Mycopesticides.

According to program notes:

“Mycopesticides are on the rise and becoming a multi-billion dollar industry. Isolating and maintaining the cultures requires different lab skills to ensure their potency and target specific qualities that make them better suited than chemical pesticides. Tradd Cotter teaches a few tips and tricks for training and maintaining these fungi to do what they do best using bioregional strategies and crop-specific isolations.”

Tradd is also teaching a workshop about how to build a laminar HEPA Flow Hood.

He is giving a talk, Down the Rabbit Hole: Mycotopia 2017, which covers general mycology and myco-remediation

Tradd is also participating in a panel discussion about Defending Fungal Biodiversity NOW! An international effort.

In addition to founding Mushroom Mountain, Tradd Cotter is the North American Mycological Association’s emergency mushroom toxicology contact and author of the best-selling “Organic Mushroom Farming.” This past year, as an industry advisor, Tradd lectured on behalf of the FDA and NEHA, promoting his mushroom forager safety program. He also went to Jamaica to train locals on mushroom cultivation, ID, and the properties of psilocybin (legal in that country).

To learn more about Tradd’s life and work, listen to his podcast.

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Susan Viebrock

Susan Viebrock

Susan is Telluride Inside… and Out’s founder and editor-in-chief, the visionary on the team, in charge of content, concept and development. For 19+ years, Susan has covered Telluride’s cultural economy, which includes non-profits and special events. Much of her writing features high-profile individuals in the arts, entertainment, business, and politics. She is a former Citibank executive specializing in strategic planning and new business development, and a certified Viniyoga instructor.
Susan Viebrock

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