Programs & Workshops

Like what you’re reading? Chances are I’m delivering a workshop or helping facilitate an event that you might be interested in! Check out the list below for all of the programs that I will be conducting or assisting with for the 2016 season in the greater Hamilton area and beyond!

Wild Ethnobotany Series

Since February of 2015 I have been offering guided excursions through public parks and woodlands throughout and around Hamilton in search of whatever edible & medicinal plants (and mushrooms) abound in that particular season and the stories that they have to share with us.

Ethnobotany is the study of how plants have influenced human culture, and how plants have influenced us. My focus therefore for this series is introducing people to the sorts of plant communities that exist within their locality as well as demonstrating to them what these plants have to offer and illustrate how they are affected by how we interact with them.

Most of these hikes are PWYC but with no obligation to do so. I prefer to make this informationopen and accessible to all. I try to deliver at least one hike each month, especially during the growing season but less frequently during the winter months. The dates and times for the the Wild Ethnobotany Hikes can be found in the list below or on the right hand side of my Home Page under Upcoming events.

Mushroom Growing Workshops

Since the spring of 2014 I have been delivering workshops and presentations on how you can grow your own edible & medicinal mushrooms at home, in a backyard vegetable patch or in a woodlot. This is a relatively new interest that it building up steam among farmers as well as backyard hobbyists, as the benefits of cultivating fungi in addition to or in direct association with plants are many and profound.

For my programs I focus mainly on Oyster (Pleurotus spp.) and wine cap (Stropharia rugosoannulata) mushrooms as they are my personal recommendations for those new to mushroom cultivation. The physical characteristics, growing requirements, preferred growing substrate and propagation methods for each species will be covered. A general introduction to fungi as a whole is also discussed prior to the introduction of each species.

APRIL 23rd 2016 – Growing Mushrooms In Your Garden @ RBG

Where: Royal Botanical Gardens ()
When: 2-4pm
Cost: $40 (RBG Members %10 off) MAXIMUM 20. PRE-REGISTER BY APRIL 13

 Join seasoned mushroom growing enthusiast Tom Nagy as he illustrates the basics of how you can grow edible & medicinal fungi in your own backyard garden using a variety of locally sourced and recycled materials.

Learn of the incredible diversity of mushrooms that are at your disposal and discover how they can all help your carefully crafted ecosystem flourish. Many mushroom species are perennial and so can become long-lived residents in your backyard, producing several bountiful harvests in a season and continuing to enrich your soil.

Many mushrooms grow best in the shade, which allows even those with large trees or woodland gardens to produce both food and medicine. Some are especially suited to being grown in direct association with vegetables, ornamentals, and fruit trees.

The limits to how you can grow your own mushrooms are only limited to your imagination and creativity. Never thought you could grow your own mushrooms? Come and be inspired by the possibilities!


Identifying and harvesting wild plants is a time honoured tradition that dates back to time immemorial and pre-dates recorded history. It is an integral practice that directly links us to the natural world and therefore demands patience, respect and dedicated in the field experience in order to develop the confidence necessary to seek out and correctly identify and differentiate useful plants from harmful species.

As such, it is important that one exercises caution and refrains from ingesting any wild plant unless they are positive as to it’s identify. Under no circumstances do I take responsibility for such errors that may be so unfortunate as to lead to self harm. I encourage you to reach out to me, other knowledgeable plant specialists or published field guides as secondary sources of information which you may compare and contrast between before deciding to include a wild plant in a recipe or use it medicinally.

If you are not completely sure about a your identification, do not take the chance! Taking specimens of flowers, leaves or the entire herb is recommended only if there are enough specimens in your locality so as to not interfere with their wild populations. Also, please do not harvest wild plants from protected areas such as Conservation Areas or National Parks or from regions where that species may be at risk, endangered or otherwise uncommon. That’s just a nice thing to do.



  1. Hello Tom!

    I live a little north of you in Muskoka, Ontario, but grew up on a farm near Hamilton where my father taught me to forage for meadow mushrooms and puffballs in our cow pastures.

    For the past 2 weeks I have had what I can most closely identify as agaricus arvensis (horse mushrooms) growing in my veggie garden where I have used sawdust and wood chips as deep mulching materials. I have done considerable research on them, but there are 2 issues that I am still wondering about:
    1) Have you ever heard of horse mushrooms fruiting in mid-June?
    2) Some of my specimens have very thick stems (approx. 2″ diameter) but with average sized caps. Is this what the field guides mean when they say that the stipes can be ‘club shaped’?

    Thank-you, and happy foraging!
    Alaine McGill

    1. Hey Alaine,

      Thanks for your comment. Horse mushrooms could fruit in July or August, although there are a few closely related and hard to identify Agaricus species which can and do fruit earlier on in the year than Agaricus arvensis or Agaricus campestris. Earlier this year in fact, around the middle of May, I found some very large Agaricus mushrooms fruiting some mulched Norway spruce trees. I have no idea what species they were, although I most certainly knew that they were not the potentially poisonous Agaricus xanthodermus and therefore good edibles.

      From what I understand club shaped stipes are those which are slightly swollen at the base and become slightly more narrow towards the underside of the cap. In other words, the stipe is more or less the same diameter except for at the base of where the mushroom emerges/developes from the mycelium, where it is slightly bulbous or swollen.

      Hope this information was helpful. Thanks and happy foraging to you as well!

  2. Thank-you Tom, I very much appreciate your reply!

    I think I will just call them Agaricus Mysterious until I find a field guide that has this early fruiting variety in it.

    We have built a new mushroom bed just at the treeline beside our chicken house where we are in the process of trying to propagate them. They are wonderful large mushrooms, and I really don’t want to disturb them, but my dilemma is that they are currently growing under my potato plants and I have delayed hilling the potatoes about as long as I can. Truth be told, the mushrooms just might win this turf war – I am so excited to have them popping up every time we water them!

    I hope you have a wonderful day!


  3. Hi From out of now where, in my moms lawn? we have a mushroom im told is called a Angle Ring ? where is come from beats me. i mow her lawn an know i didnt plant it. can they be eaten? sold to others. She does have nightly visits from the local Deer, no Idea its Just One Ring no where else in the naborhood??

    1. There are many fungi that have the common name of Angel Ring. These fungi colonize your lawn without any sort of intervention and are often signs of a relatively un-polluted and healthy soil environment. Depending on the species there are some that can be eaten, but of course it’s importantly to be absolutely sure before you decided to sample it, if you are interested in doing that at all. If you are able to take a photo of the formation, and the cap and underside of each mushroom I may be able to go about trying to figure out what it is for you.

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