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From foraged goods to traditional Michigan seasonal produce, Bonamego Farms has it all. Nabe, one of Bonamego Farms’ principal farmers, specializes in finding wild, edible plants on their land, which is permanently protected by the Southwest Michigan Land Conservancy. Essentially self-taught, she has been foraging daily for over ten years, having learned some of her skills from her mother in North Korea. She finds all kinds of plants the layman would never consider consuming, such as dandelion greens, chicories, wild spinach, plantain leaves, pigweeds, purslane, pepper weeds, and black walnuts.

 

Not only does she specialize in finding edible wild plants, she is also an expert at foraging for mushrooms. Nabe sells these mushrooms from a bag she calls her “medicine basket” because it contains only medicinal mushrooms and roots such as chaga, turkey tail, and reishi mushrooms, and mulberry, dandelion and chicory roots that she finds on the farm and then dries. She says to extract the medicinal qualities out of these items, they are best ground to a powder and then brewed into tea. Dried teas consisting of various mushrooms and roots are a traditional Asian medical practice meant to ward off diseases. Below are some of the varieties of wild mushrooms and roots Nabe has in her “medicine basket”, and their purported medicinal effects*:

 Chaga, turkey tail, and reishi mushrooms and various medicinal roots 

Chaga, turkey tail, and reishi mushrooms and various medicinal roots 

  • Chaga mushroom: inhibits cancer progression, stimulates immune system, and reduces inflammation.
  • Turkey tail mushrooms: good source of antioxidants; also heals digestive ailments.
  • Reishi mushrooms: combats fatigue, viral infections, and inflammation.
  • Dandelion root: inhibits cancer progression, lowers blood sugar, and has diuretic properties.
  • Chicory root: contains inulin, a soluble fiber that feeds digestive flora in the intestines and promotes digestion.

Nabe asserts that the best way to learn and master foraging is by doing it every single day. She advises,

Go out every day and look and learn. Everything [at first] looks alike, but it is not- it actually has different flavors and different looks.

Nabe occasionally offers her own foraging classes; stay up-to-date on those happenings by following Bonamego Farms on Facebook. You can also pop in and say “hi” to Nabe at the Bonamego Farms stand at the Kalamazoo Farmers Market on Tuesdays and Saturdays. You'll also find her goods at the Portage Market on Sundays.

*This article is not to be used as a substitute for medical advice or for the diagnosis or treatment of any health condition or problem.