Fervent Finds: A Walk on the Wild Side
Fervent Finds is a local small business located near Midland Ontario whose founders, Lasha and Andrij, are passionate about exploring the natural world and teaching others about organically sourced, sustainable products and services that improve health and happiness. Their business involves professional foraging of wild mushrooms, herbs and medicines as well as organic gardening and culinary inspiration.
Lasha is a biologist who has foraged for as long as she can remember while Andrij grew up in the Ukraine where he was exposed to foraging before he could even walk. With backgrounds like this, it is no surprise that these two run a professional foraging business. In keeping with this tradition, you’ll often see their own kiddos on their forays, whose mushroom identification skills are seriously impressive.
I first discovered Fervent Finds when a friend posted some photos on social media after participating in one of their guided forages (also known as a foray). If you know me, you would not be surprised that I signed up immediately!
I participated in my first foray late in September. We met on their property, which is the perfect location for this outdoor-loving family, with forest, gardens, a pond, and a gaggle of poultry on the property. During this food adventure, Andrij and Lasha guided our small group through the forest, explaining how to locate potential habitat, identify, forage and prepare wild mushrooms and herbs, with tips on how to do so sustainably.
After exploring the wooded area on their property, we hopped in our cars and followed them to a nearby area of crown land where we continued our hunt for edible and medicinal fungi. I was elated to return home with an abundance of honey mushrooms, late fall oyster mushrooms, enoki mushrooms, shrimp of the woods, lobster mushrooms, turkey tail, resinous polypore and hedgehog mushrooms, some that I enjoyed immediately and some that I dehydrated and stored for future use.
I enjoyed the experience so much that I returned again this year, this time, exploring an area of crown land in Muskoka. As my second foray was held at a different location and different time of year, I was excited to learn about completely different species than those I encountered on my first experience. This time, my haul included black trumpets, chanterelles, oyster mushrooms and chicken of the woods.
If spending hours in the woods isn’t your cup of tea, Andrij and Lasha also sell their foraged finds to individuals and restaurants. Earlier this year, I purchased some ramps and morels from them that I used to make a simple yet incredibly flavourful flatbread.
These two also have local celebrity status in the Ontario foraging community. They are very active in Facebook foraging groups and their expertise is often sought out by others.
You can follow them on Facebook where they advertise their upcoming forays under the “Events” tab on their page and Instagram where you can follow along with their outdoor experiences which also include hunting, trapping, fishing and cute photos of the newest addition to their family and future forager!