Harnessing the Power of Fungi to Heal Our Environment

Fungi – mushrooms — are some of the world’s oldest organisms and some of the most evolved beings on the Earth. As the Earth’s great decomposers, they have decomposed and recomposed life millions of times over. In the more-than-human world, it is the fungi who have been the Earth’s greatest stewards.

Conventional methods of environmental remediation usually merely cover up the problem, and/or bring in large machinery to remove the waste or pollutant by means of scrapping the soil and hauling it away. Not only is this damaging to the complex web of the soil ecology, but this type of “remediation” addresses only one aspect of the problem. It is not a holistic methodology.

Mycoremediation is the use of fungi to clean and sequester toxic environmental materials. Fungi work in partnership with many members of the soil ecology: with bacteria, insects and plants, creating and closing nutrient cycles which actually leads to the environment’s recovery.

Over the past few years, Tewa Women United has been working with mycoremediation in the Española Healing Foods Oasis in partnership with ecological artist Kaitlin Bryson.

Kaitlin and Beata Tsosie-Peña (TWU’s Environmental Health and Justice program coordinator) have been designing workshops for Indigenous and land-based peoples to learn how to apply this practice to their local areas. In July of 2021, Kaitlin and Beata offered hands-on bio and mycoremediation workshops to the Northern Youth Project as well as Counselor and Pueblo Pintado Chapters of Navajo Nation. Workshop participants had the opportunity to make mycelium “Helping Hands” and other forms, mycelium network observation raised beds, and seed balls with remediative plant seeds and mycorrhizal spore seeds.

In order to reach a wider group of people who would like to learn about mycoremediation but may not be able to attend in-person workshops, we’ve put together this Mycoremediation Resource Page which includes a comprehensive ‘how to’ handbook created by Beata and Kaitlin, videos, and articles.