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April Updates 2021

Dear Envirocare Coordinators, Go-Green Champions and Eco-Explorers,

You may be looking for creative ways to take part in the 51st annual Earth Day and support the theme of this year’s global day of activism: “Restore Our Earth”. 

This month, we delve deeper into the Kingdom of Fungi, which is characterised by oneness and enthusiasm and delivers solutions to some of our critical environmental challenges.

You may have seen mushrooms in your garden, backyard, fields, parks or forests, but this fruiting body, typically with a stem and gills under a cap, is only a tiny part of the whole organism. The humongous fungus world stretches miles underground, silently forging relationships with many other organisms, both alive and dead.

“We are just one organism in the natural world, and yet we are endowed with a task to ‘subdue the earth and fill it.’” (Genesis 1: 27–28)

Get the First Episode of ‘Mushroom, The Unsung Hero 

Mushroom Cultivation
Growing True Earthly Relationships, Estonia

The Sri Sathya Sai International Organization (SSSIO) of Estonia, in Zone 7, brings us a community full of joy and appreciation of the fungi, which is one of Nature’s many supports to human and ecological health and well-being. The owners (Tanel Heinsalu and Jaanela Poks) of the Estonian Mushroom Farm in Üdruma Village, West Country, have inspired thousands of people to start growing mushrooms at home; they have raised awareness in the practice of permaculture.

Due to their fascination of mushrooms and mycology (study of fungi), these stunning fungi can be seen on their window panes, balconies, small flower beds and compost piles - those lucky Estonians who have a garden can get more innovative. The by-products of mushroom cultivation unlock nutrients for other organisms in the ecological community. There is nothing more satisfying than picking your own produce!

Mushrooms of all sizes are grown indoors in bags, where the temperature and humidity can be easily controlled for maximum yield.

Growing Oyster Mushrooms (scientific name: Pleurotus Ostreatus) in bags, Estonian mushroom farm

Experiment HERE - A Guide to your Own Homegrown Mushrooms

Fungi Adventures in the Wild

The share of forest in Estonia is vast and it is home to more than 3,700 species of fungi. Only about 60 species of Estonian mushroom are considered edible, but they nonetheless provide a rich feast of flavours, colours, and textures to local dishes.

However, while scouring the ground to find hidden treasures, we can be fooled by their beautiful appearance; beware, sometimes mushrooms can be extremely poisonous! 

Sustainable mushroom hunting is an outdoor activity for fungi enthusiasts and wild mushroom food lovers. Responsible and considerate foraging techniques prevent harm to the foundation of the mushroom - the underlying mycelia from which they have sprouted - and keep the delicate flora thriving to ensure future generations of mushroom. The mycelia are our Earth’s life support system, they take the form of thin threads (mycorrhizal networks or Wood Wide Web) that link to the roots of different plants in a symbiotic manner (mutually-beneficial relationship).

True Story of Divine Wisdom in Trees in Estonia Forest

I can tell you a strange story about mushrooms called ‘Chicken of the Woods’ or ‘Sulfur Shelf,’ which grow wild on many unhealthy or seemingly healthy huge oak trees, and also in huge old willows. They usually give their harvest over 1 or 2 years. Last year, they gave their harvest across the whole of Estonia, but in the year before (2019), not a single one could be seen on the Oak trees. How do the trees and fungi manage to communicate and coordinate? The same Divine Wisdom is hidden in them as well, and even in the blades of grass that reflect the same patterns as the whole Nature.

- Enn Kaljo, National Envirocare Coordinator, Estonia.

In 2010, Ren Sen Zeng of South China Agricultural University in Guangzhou found that fungi release chemical signals into the mycelia that warn their neighbours. This wide fungal network is a communication channel for plants, through which large trees help out younger ones and seedlings in the shade.

God pervades every cell and atom of the universe, spreading His divine effulgence everywhere.

- Sri Sathya Sai Speaks, Vol.35/Ch.36, 11 October 2002  

It is only love that encompasses and permeates the entire world.” 

Sri Sathya Sai Speaks, Vol.32/Ch.17, 28 July 1999

Let us quietly reflect on the Unity, Purity and Divinity in the Trees Around Us

Read more in 'Nature: the Vesture of God'

Fungi teach us lessons in self-sacrifice

Scientists say that fungi may have the potential to save the planet from humanity’s exploitation of natural resources. Findings in the 1980s by mycologist Paul Stamets and subsequent studies by experts have demonstrated how Mycoremediation can clean various waste sites such as waterways and soil, and in some areas even radioactive waste. 

This innovative approach uses Pleurotus Ostreatus (oyster mushroom) mycelium, which has the ability to break down hydrocarbons in contaminants, including petrochemicals, heavy metals and pesticides. 

The Disappointing Truth! - our ever forgiving fungi sacrifice their own lives to mend our Earth, damaged over many years by man’s avoidable pollution. The intricate webs of fungi teach a lesson in self-sacrifice to humans, relieving Mother Earth from pollutants and toxins.

Through the eyes of renowned scientists and mycologists like Paul Stamets … we become aware of the beauty, intelligence and solutions the fungi kingdom offers us in response to some of our most pressing medical, therapeutic, and environmental challenges.

- Fantastic Fungi, consciousness-shifting film directed by Louie Schwartzberg

Get ready for the third episode - Mushrooming ‘Chaga’ Trip! Next time, our Estonian fungi enthusiasts will drive us into the woods and off trails to track down ‘Chaga’ mushrooms - the most powerful natural healing gift from Mother Nature. 

Happy Fungi-filled Earth Day!

With Sai Love and Care,

Environmental Sustainability Committee

Sri Sathya Sai International Organization