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'Mushroom nerd' to bring wares to Boro farmers market this spring

March 02, 2018

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“Generation Yum.”  “Foodies.”  “Gastronomes.”

All of these are terms that bring a particular scenario to mind — a person obsessed with food and armed with a cell phone and a social media account (or two or three) on which to post photos of their favorite dishes.

When the terms first emerged, the trend pointed to high culture. These days, anyone who likes food and can aim a camera at a plate can call him- or herself a foodie.

But whether you call yourself a foodie or you just, well, love food, in Statesboro, you’ll want to make your way this spring downtown to the Main Street Farmers Market. Open on Saturday mornings from 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. from April through November, the market is located at the Charlie Olliff Square at Sea Island Bank on Main Street.

At the market, you can find fresh fruits, vegetables, herbs, honey and dairy. You’ll want to come hungry, because you’ll also find some of the area’s best food purveyors. You can also find some great arts and crafts vendors as well.

And beginning this spring, you’ll be able to find a genuine “mushroom nerd.”

Ancil Jacques is the owner and self-described “nerd” behind Swampy Appleseed Mushroom Foraging and Sales, located in Reidsville. Jacques is an expert in wild and cultivated culinary mushrooms, and is passionate about not only finding these delicious natural gems, but also educating people about what is growing in their own backyards.

Many of you will already be familiar with Jacques, having either heard him speak about mushrooms at one of his many speaking engagements in the area, or having sampled his wares through the Market2Go. Open year-round, the Market2Go enables local residents to place an order for locally produced items and then pick them up at Sugar Magnolia’s Bakery, located at 106 Savannah Avenue in Statesboro.

Jacques grew up in Dixie Union, Georgia, where he said kids had to entertain themselves.

“It’s a very rural community. They got a gas station after I graduated high school,” he said, laughing. “We grew up making our own fun. My parents were both science teachers and we kind of had that influence to appreciate the world around us from early on.”

That appreciation has stayed with Jacques, who has learned to look around South Georgia’s long sub-tropical climate and “find these amazing things that weren’t there the day before — and all in the same woods you were just playing in yesterday.”

So when asked why he got into mushrooms, his answer is ready and clear.

“How do you not get into them?”

After earning an English degree a few years ago, Jacques was considering whether to apply to graduate school. He had been interested in mushrooms for some time at that point, but he said a rare find was a game changer for him: the pecan truffle.

He’d been looking for the truffle for years, and when he finally found it, he took it to a local chef and made his first sale.

“It was $30 an ounce or something. I just made it up before I walked in, basically. Here’s a wild truffle that no one else has got,” he said.

The following day, he found about 2 pounds of them. Once he “got the eye” for finding them, he started finding them in Brantley and Ware counties, in addition to Tattnall. He’s coy if you ask him for specifics on the locations.

“Under a tree, under the sky, in the ground,” he says, laughing.

He decided at this point, that he would start cultivating his own mushrooms. And about nine months ago, he started producing a few hundred pounds of mushrooms a week, and decided to dive “all in.” He is a regular fixture at the Forsyth Farmers Market in Savannah, and regularly sells his wares to restaurants in Savannah and Atlanta. He’s hoping that Statesboro will follow suit.

One of Jacques’ favorite things to do is to talk about mushrooms, educating people on what’s available in the area, how to recognize them and what to do with them when you find them. He has a mailing list of about 900, and he regularly sends out e-vites to go on walks in the woods with him.

“I always have big turnouts. Everybody always wants to learn about mushrooms,” he said, smiling.

He has spoken at garden clubs and has held cultivation workshops, teaching people how to grow their own mushrooms. He often sells mushroom grow kits alongside his mushrooms. Jacques cultivates and sells Oyster, Lion’s Mane and Trumpet mushrooms. His grow facility is in a shipping container, which he is able to keep at 65 degrees, with 90 to 95 percent humidity. The mushrooms are grown in bags of supplemented wood chips inoculated with fungi.

Jacques has a hard time understanding why people ignore this abundant resource.

“I do the speaking events because I think absolutely everyone in South Georgia needs to know more about mushrooms. I grew up in deep rural Georgia, and everybody is poor as dirt, eating catfish out of mercury-ridden waters,” he said, adding that on the way to catch those, people are passing mushrooms by.

“On the way, you’re stomping on hundreds of Chanterelles, $20 a pound, high cuisine, gourmet, clean mushrooms. And no one knows about it,” he said.

Last year, Jacques found 500 pounds of Chanterelles.

“That’s a lot of food. We have a valuable natural resource around here,” he said. “Everyone should know better. Why isn’t everyone taking advantage of this local resource?”

To participate in the Market2Go, go join the online market at Orders can be placed from Friday at noon until midnight the following Tuesday. Pickup is on Thursdays from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. at Sugar Magnolia’s.

Opening day for the Main Street Farmers Market is April 7, from 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. The day will feature fresh coffee and homemade lemonade, and live music, in addition to fresh fruits and vegetables from local family farms. You can also browse unique and handcrafted items.

Contact Swampy Appleseed Mushrooms at (912) 288-1687 or e-mail at Find more information at, on Facebook (Swampy Appleseed Mushrooms) and on Instagram (SwampyAppleseed). 


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