Teaching youth to heal land and community with fungi

In Denver, Spirit of the Sun is guiding Native American youth to use mycelium for environmental restoration and community nourishment.

Kate Nelson reports for Civil Eats.


In short:

  • Spirit of the Sun integrates Indigenous wisdom with modern ecological practices, using mycelium to detoxify soil and improve food security.
  • The mycelium project not only enhances soil health but has also produced significant agricultural yields, demonstrating the potential for broader environmental and community benefits.
  • Education programs aim to reconnect Native youth with their cultural heritage, emphasizing respect for nature and the interconnectedness of life.

Key quote:

“Our genetic makeup comes directly from the water we drink and the soil we eat from. Most of the soil in the Denver area is depleted of nutrients, so we have to constantly add nutrients back in. Mycelium is like a nervous system that does its job in conjunction with nutrients in the soil. There are so many positive benefits to soil that is healthy and alive; it is connected to our food, our ceremonies, our language, and our stories.”

— Shannon Francis, executive director of Spirit of the Sun

Why this matters:

Traditional ecological knowledge, passed down through generations, includes an intrinsic understanding of the cycles of life and the roles of various organisms in maintaining healthy landscapes. Modern ecological practices are increasingly drawing on this wisdom, integrating it with scientific research to develop innovative solutions to environmental challenges.

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