2025 SOMA Wild Mushroom Camp

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Faculty Biographies

Paul Lagreze

I first became interested in mushrooms as a teenager, noticing beautiful white shelf-like mushrooms growing on poplar trees in the fall. These oyster mushrooms had a seafood-y smell and a slight licorice flavor when sautéed.  Later while living at Dawes Hill, an agrarian commune near Ithaca, NY I was introduced to mushroom basics through a mushroom field guide by Alexander Smith, (a University of Michigan mycologist) I was inoculated by the idea of mycelium and the forms that they took.
After graduating from UC Santa Barbara with a degree in anthropology, I moved back to the Western Massachusetts, where the mushrooms I found piqued my interest again. I decided to take a beginners course in Mycology at UMass Amherst and joined the Boston Mycological Club and the Monadnock Mushroomers Unlimited in southern New Hampshire.
I was hooked!
One particularly dry year, around 2000, when there were very few wild mushrooms appearing I decided to grow shiitake mushrooms on oak and sugar maple logs. I sold the extra shiitakes and wild mushrooms to restaurants around the "Happy Valley".  I founded New England Wild Edibles in 2004 and my knowledge of mushrooms kept growing. I began teaching an introductory course on identification and foraging mushrooms at UMass Amherst in 2014 and I am currently teaching mushroom foraging and cultivation at Greenfield Community College in Greenfield MA.  

I also grow shiitake mushrooms and other saprophytic (carbon consuming) mushrooms and conduct cultivation classes at Five Springs Mushroom Farm in Heath MA. I lead mushroom forays at the farm and the surrounding woods of Western MA from late Spring to Fall.  There is nothing that I enjoy more or that brings me more peace than being out in the woods foraging and cultivating mushrooms.