Vermont Bar Journal, Vol. 40, No. 2 Vermont Bar Journal, Spring 2017, Volume 43, No. 1 - Page 8

PURSUITS OF HAPPINESS The Mushroom Forager, An Interview with Ari Rockland-Miller Jennifer Emens-Butler: I am here in the office of Fitts, Olson & Giddings in Brattle- boro to interview Ari Rockland-Miller for our Pursuits of Happiness column. As our readers know, this column is an exploration of our members’ interests and talents out- side of the practice of law. Ari has a unique interest and talent in addition to being a good lawyer, I suppose it’s both an interest and a talent, right? Ari Rockland-Miller: It’s definitely a pas- sion and skillset as well. JEB: A passion and a skillset, I like that. We are going to start with the beginning before we get into your passion. Can you tell the readers a little bit about yourself, starting with where you grew up? ARM: Sure, I grew up in Leverett, Mas- sachusetts, just outside of Amherst, on 5 acres of land in the woods. I was always fascinated by the wild mushrooms that would pop up on my parents’ property and as a kid I would pile the mushrooms on the hood of my parents’ car-- mushrooms of every shape, size and color, and marvel at the diversity of them. I begged my Mom to buy me a field guide when I was 10 years old and she reluctantly obliged. I was al- ways mesmerized by the wild mushrooms and plants around me, and that was the be- ginning. JEB: So you owe your continued passion to your mother who bought you the field guide when you were 10 years old? ARM: Yes, because she trusted me and allowed me to pursue this interest. I never actually ate any wild mushrooms as a kid, it was more a visual feast, because I wasn’t confident enough to be 100% sure to bring something to the table. It wasn’t until after college when I got a job managing a for- est farm called the McDaniels Nut Grove on the Cornell University campus where I got more in depth experience with mush- room cultivation and agroforestry systems. The nut farm was engaged in essential- ly growing shitakes and other species of mushrooms under a canopy of nut trees, as a way to conserve the forest and landscape while making money. The farm could create good food, while keeping the forest cover intact. At that point, my wild mushroom in- terest had a resurgence and I was seeking out all the information I could. I was talking to everyone I could about wild mushrooms, because it was a little bit mysterious. 8 JEB: So you really hadn’t foraged mush- rooms to eat until after you learned about mushrooms in more of a commercial culti- vation, right? At