Mushroom picking can be a fun filled adventure with the little ones if planned the right way. There is so much curiosity in the shapes and colours of this nutritious fungus, and the real treasure is finding the right ones! Personally I like to make a game out of the exercise, where I give a few clues as to what I’m looking at, and wait a moment for everyone to find it. Otherwise known as I-Spy. As my mushroom knowledge is quite limited, I do not encourage collecting any piece, until I know for certain that it’s safe. Parents who are gifted in the fungi arts naturally will be a bit more relaxed.
Going on an excursion in Helsinki is quite exciting, as there are so many green spaces to enjoy, and it’s not unusual to see mushroom clusters peering through the fall coverage. Prime season starts as early as August, but the grand varieties flourish in mid September and tapers off in late October – leaving a few more weeks to enjoy. Last month, I gathered the gang and headed to Arabianrannan rantapuisto in search of edible gold: Chanterelles. And though the delicacies remained elusive, we thoroughly enjoyed the day. This park is just lovely, with paths that meanders gently through neighbourhoods and vegetable patches, continuing alongside a lake, and eventually to a large span of open field – a perfect location for the little ones to stretch their feet.
Tips and Tricks
As with any activity with young children, planning is key. Here are a few recommendations to create a more enjoyable atmosphere.
Have a guide. If you’re lucky enough to have any Finns around you that love the great outdoors, then hitch a ride! Chances are they’ll know the best spots for Mushroom picking. If not, then try joining a facebook group to find a companion, or take the plunge and arrange a guided tour. Feel the Nature hosts a popular day trip. It’s always worth having someone who’s experienced. Feeling adventurous? You can use guidebooks or smartphone apps – Rogers Mushrooms App is quite popular. However you run the risk of missing out on the experience, as you’re focused on the prose. Not to mention poisoning yourself terribly, if you mistake one fungus for another!
Where to go. There are countless places to explore for fungi hunting, and depending on whom you ask, the response will be varied each time. Generally speaking popular mushroom areas include: Nuuksio National Park, Helsinki Central Park (stretching from Töölönlahti Bay to Haltiala), Myllypuro forests, Viikki and Vanhankaupunginlahti Bay, as well as Uutela, and Mustavuori (black mountain).
Small knife. Here’s a great mushroom knife from fiskars, with a brush on one end, and a blade on the other.
Woven basket or large Tupperware. Try to avoid plastic bags, as they tend to damage the mushrooms.
Outdoor clothing. Please cover those ankles. I made the monumental mistake of going mushroom picking in short leggings. In five minutes I was stung by nettles, and it was downhill after that. Pad up good and proper.
Wipes, tissue and antibacterial spray. It’s always a good idea to travel with these, especially when you’re in the outdoors with the little ones. Scrapes and bruises are commonplace due to the loose branches, twigs and other earthly matter. Additionally, snack time will be a little easier, as restrooms are hard to come by, and those fingers will need cleaning.
Stroller access. Depending on the location, strollers may be a welcomed addition, or an unexpected frustration. Generally speaking larger well-known parks are designed with young children in mind, so it shouldn’t be an imposition. If however you’re unsure, then I recommend sampling the larger parks with the littlest ones, and leaving lesser-known paths for older children.