Timebank Growth is Mushrooming!

Maitake.jpgMaitake translates from its Japanese name to ‘dancing mushroom’ and for good reason. Finding a cluster of these immune boosting mushrooms brings such elation that foragers often dance with joy. Folklore suggests that the person lucky enough to stumble upon these mushrooms in the forest was able to trade them for their weight in silver.



Kathy Sipple is CoThrive Timebank's Founder and Coordinator. She launched the timebank after a successful crowdfunding campaign raised enough to bring in expert timebank trainer Linda Hogan from Portland, Maine for a 3-day session with the fledgling timebank leadership team.

During that training in May 2016, Hogan advised the team that they needed to find their 'it' -- what activity could unite them in a purpose? What venture might they take on to raise needed funds to operate the timebank? Team members had varied interests, but environment and food rose to the forefront. For the time being though, no immediate revenue model presented itself...

In July 2016 Sipple enrolled and attended a course in Indianapolis to become a licensed wild mushroom expert. She attended a similar class to become a morel mushroom expert in 2015 and found mushroom hunting addictive -- and delicious! Knowing she could safely identify and prepare mushrooms for her own household and friends opened up a new culinary landscape for her. The courses, hosted by the Hoosier Mushroom Society, were organized to provide a licensing body for mushroom sales between mushroom hunters and restaurants or farmers markets.

Sipple works as a marketing trainer and consultant, sometimes conducting sessions in Chicago. In fall 2015, she passed a vendor selling a huge maitake mushroom at the Daley Plaza Farmers Market in downtown Chicago on her way to a training session. Curious about the mushroom, she asked the farmer the price of the mushroom. He told her it had sold -- for $400 -- before the market had even opened to a chef of a restaurant downtown. That piece of information remained in Sipple's mind as she looked for revenue opportunities for the timebank...

Sipple offers nature walks, foraging hikes and even mushroom identification as services she will trade with other timebank members. Tara and JD Marshall, along with their 2-year old daughter Rhiannon, engaged Sipple in a nature walk. The day resulted in 10 pounds or so of wild mushrooms the Marshalls enjoyed eating. JD especially became interested in mushrooms, finding many new species in the following weeks. 

One particular large hunting expedition resulted in 12 pounds of maitake mushrooms in pristine condition. They contacted Sipple to find out if she knew who might want them since they already had more than they could use. Sipple contacted several restaurants in Valparaiso where she lives and found a buyer -- Shannon Rogers at Uptown Cafe.

The proceeds were split between the Marshalls as the finders, Sipple as the certifier and the timebank. Uptown prepared a delicious wild mushroom soup in the days ahead. A win for all! Perhaps the timebank found its 'it'...

Timebankers continue to spot mushrooms and demand is buildilng. The most recent request came from Northwest Indiana Local Food Council member Anne Massey, organizer of the Sunday Supper with Farms, Forks & Foodies, to be held at the Lubeznik Center for the Arts October 16th in Michigan City. The menu will feature Chicken Fricasse with Fennel-Leek and Roasted Mushroom in a Vermouth Cream sauce, made in part with mushrooms foraged, licensed and sold through CoThrive Timebank!


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