Indy Srinath, Community Garden Manager & Mushroom Forager/ Cultivator + Educator, Eagle Rock Farm
What made you start doing the amazing things that you do?
After spending time working on organic farms on the west coast, I moved to North Carolina to be closer to family and my partner, Everest. For a period of time, I was trying to balance being at home on our small farm during the evening and working as a manager of a natural food store during the day.
I quickly realized that my passion was to live off of the land and create a way to make money that was both sustainable for the planet and for my own passions. Everest encouraged me to work full-time from our homestead, rebrand the mushroom business and incorporate my knowledge of herbal medicine and healing. So in 2016, I became a full-time forager, mushroom producer, and community educator.
Did you complete any training? If not, how did you learn your trade/skill?
I began learning agriculture WWOOFing along the coast of California — I learned a wealth of information by working on small farms and immersing myself in their practices. I spent three years in herbalism school learning to grow, use and identify medicinal plants and mushrooms.
I’ve learned so much from my partner about mushroom cultivation. Most of my foraging knowledge is self-taught. I’ve always been incredibly interested in learning the names of every plant and fungus, so I started purchasing guides which led to my current voracious appetite for learning the taxonomical names of all the local mushrooms.
What are the top five things in your pockets?
- mushroom knife and brush
- fountain pen
- measuring tape
- treats for my dog Juno
- mushroom spawn inoculator
- ginger candy :)
What are you doing when you’re not working hard?
I love crafting herbal teas from wild mushrooms and plants. I also enjoy listening to podcasts about sustainable agriculture and women in business. Recently I’ve been learning how to brew craft beer using medicinal herbs. Any chance I get, I like to head off into the woods with friends to camp and explore.
How do you encourage other women to start doing what you do?
It’s important to remember that you don’t have to be an academically-trained mycologist to delve into the world of mushrooms. So much of what I’ve learned about cultivation and foraging I learned outside of a classroom—from community plant walks, to learning from friends, my partner, local mushroom enthusiasts and online forums. Take classes as you need them or a small business class at a local community college. Hang out with a friend who owns their own business and listen to podcasts from women farmers. I think the most important part of doing what you love for a living lies within your capacity to have autonomy over your education.
If you could give your 20-year-old-self advice, what would it be?
Don’t stick with it! I was always told to keep doing things that I didn’t love in order to achieve success. Of course, it’s important to have tenacity and perseverance, but you don’t have to practice these traits in settings that don’t serve a deeper purpose. Take a chance, make a decision and have a good reason for it.
Follow Indy at @indyofficinalis