Remediation means to repair damages. At the root of the word is remedy, which means to heal, repair, and restore. Conventional methods of toxic “remediation” usually include merely covering up the problem, and/or bringing in large machinery to only remove the waste or pollutant by means of scrapping the soil and hauling it away. This is most certainly not a solution. Not only is it 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.
With bioremediation – the use of living materials to remediate toxic pollutants – we look at the system as a whole and try to restore the balance of that system so that it is healthy, and the soil life can come back. Fungi work in partnership with many members of the soil ecology: with bacteria, insects and plants, creating and closing nutrient cycles which leads to the environment’s recovery. Mycoremediation uses fungi to clean and sequester toxic materials.
Fungi are some of the world’s oldest organisms, rounding out at about 3 million years old. They are some of the most evolved beings on the Earth and are incredibly resilient and intelligent. 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.
In partnership with ecological artist Kaitlin Bryson, Tewa Women United has been working with mycoremediation in the Española Healing Foods Oasis and offering workshops and resources for Indigenous and land-based peoples to learn how to apply this practice to their local areas.
We have gathered some resources here so you can learn more about mycoremediation.
Mycology and Mycoremediation: Information and Guide for At-Home Mushroom Cultivation for Remediation (compiled by Kaitlin Bryson and Beata Tsosie-Peña)
“Fungi Healing Soils” with Beata Tsosie-Peña and Kaitlin Bryson, hosted by the Institute of American Indian Art (1 hr 37 min)
“Becoming Symbionts” with Beata Tsosie-Peña and Kaitlin Bryson, hosted by form & concept Gallery (1 hr 45 min)
“Mushrooms could help clean toxic groundwater in New Mexico” (Oct 3, 2018, Santa Fe New Mexican)