FRESH MUSHROOMS OF TIEL
In the Nederlands, fresh specimens of Psilocybe cubensis, Copelandia cyanescens, Panaeolus subbalteatus, and the sclerotia or truffles of Psilocybe tampanensis and Psilocybe mexicana are legally grown and sold in Smart Shops or head shops throughout the country.
Smart Shops are retail storefronts that legally sell whatever psychedelics local laws permit. In Holland this includes fresh “magic” mushrooms known as paddos, which are by far one of the most popular items.
There are five farms in the Nederlands that cultivate magic mushrooms. These commercial suppliers legally produce between 10,000-200,000 kilos of magic mushrooms per week. The largest farm is Fresh Mushrooms, located in Tiel, an hour’s drive from Amsterdam.
Fresh Mushrooms provides 60% of the Nederlands supply and 90% of Europe and the rest of the world’s supply. While Fresh Mushrooms, during off-season, produce approximately 2000 kilos per week, in full operation, they are able to supply 20,000 kilos or more of the sacred fungi.
In the early spring of 2006, I received an email from the owners of Fresh Mushrooms inviting me to be their guest in Holland and visit their grow farm. Along with Rich Gee, co-author of How to Identify and Grow Psilocybin Mushrooms, I set out for the adventure of a lifetime—to be one of the few shroomers to visit “mushroom heaven.”
In the serene setting of a beautiful château-like lodgings provided by the good folks at Fresh mushrooms, we started our adventure by taking a ten minute ferry ride across a flooded river to the small town of Tiel. There, over the course of three days, we recorded and photographed the Fresh mushrooms Growing facility.
Headed by Hans Grootewal and master cultivator Eric, Fresh mushrooms is the largest cultivator of sacred fungi in the world. We learned that they have five growing rooms referred to as cells. Each cell has six tiers and is used for the cultivation of various species of mushrooms. Hans informed us that they used approximately 10,000 kilos of compost for each cell and with that amount they can fill the six growing bins in each cell. A compost farm situated down the road from the growing facility supplies the enormous quantity of compost.
Fresh Mushrooms produces and freely markets to the public several species including two varieties of Psilocybe cubensis (Psilocybe Columbian and Psilocybe Philipine). The next most popular mushrooms grown are Copelandia cyanescens and Panaeolus subbalteatus. They also cultivate two varieties of truffles obtained from the composted tiers producing fresh Psilocybe mexicana and Psilocybe tampanensis.
The mushrooms are harvested and packaged for retail sale. As the fungi are only sold fresh their packaging is key to ensuring quality and extending the shelf life of the product. Mushrooms packaged by Fresh mushrooms are hermetically sealed and remain potent for up to thirty days in a refrigerator. Each package of mushrooms comes with information on how to best consume them (in three languages).
The different varieties of magic mushrooms produce a range of hallucinatory effects from the visionary Psilocybe cubensis to the more powerful Copelandia cyanescens. Panaeolus subbalteatus, once referred to as the infamous “weed” mushroom was originally treated as a nuisance by commercial mushroom farmers who had to weed it out from their edible white mushrooms (Agaricus bisporus). Psilocybe tampanensis, also produces Philosopher Stones, a kind of a truffle or sclerotia and produces a more philosophical and happy trip while Psilocybe mexicana—also produces another type of truffle--offers an extensive and colorful experience. OF course, these effects are subject to discussion as each person has a different experience with a different amount of the same species on each trip.
Although fresh mushrooms are perfectly legal to sell, dried mushrooms are not. Some head shops in Amsterdam do sell them in dried form with little risk of prosecution. Recently the city council of Wageningen declared that dried psilocybian mushrooms would be “tolerated”—meaning they may be sold in the open. According to Dutch cultivator Rene Rinkkelman, this makes Wageningen one of the more progressive cities in the Nederlands. Small growing kits are also available for both Copelandia (Panaeolus) cyanescens and Psilocybe cubensis mushrooms. A further note of interest, certain pizzerias include magic mushroom pizzas on their menu and will even deliver them to you.
The Nederlands has a long history of mushroom cultivation and is one of the top agricultural producing countries in the world. Also taking into account the Dutch tolerance towards soft drugs, the development of the magic mushroom industry was a natural evolution. With such a successful model in place, one can only hope that other countries will follow suite opening the world of magic mushrooms to more initiates.
6626 BJ Alphen ( Gelderland )
*.[A brief note from John W. Allen, Sept 30, 2008]. Recently, as early as the summer of 2007, due to several mushroom mishaps involving accidental deaths, accidents causing minor injuries and emergency room treatment for mushroom overdose as well as some cases of mushrooms and polydrug abuse and treatment care, members of the Dutch Parliament of the Nederlands enacted laws legislating 'paddos' (magic mushrooms) as prohibited plants. The law took effect on December 2, 2008. However, they based their law by prohibiting certain species whose names were obtain by a paper by Gaston Guzman, me and Jochen Gartz. That prohibited species list also contained the names of about 9 species of edible mushrooms as well and yet overlooked noting the the sales of sclerotia, grow kits and spores that are now available legally in the Nederland.
There is no may to fully express my gratitude and appreciation to those who offered me the privilege that allowed me to observe their cultivation of one of God's greatest gifts to humankind and to know that I knew would be there in the presence of this man-made environment, that I would feel the true meaning of the words, 'joy to the world.' To comprehend that I, by sharing the imagery I would captured on film with others who believe as I do, in the symbiosis of the mushrooms, would understand the meaning which permits the melding and molding with the mind, this opportunity to share with others, these sights unseen which would soon enter the somewhat narrow limited peripherally parameters of visual conceptions bestowed to me as a common birthright which all of this earth are bestowed upon with on this Earth.
I feel the gift of sight and being able to record through photography, this beautiful miracle of botanical life, by doing so, record their beautiful lifeline for all of humankind to share amongst the world. I, being a free spirit, possess a boon which has become my gift of appreciation of kudos to thank all of those who have shared with similar knowledge freely with me and others like me; that knowledge of the mushrooms of my life and so through that symbiosis that the sacred mushrooms and I share and have become as one with; aligned me in perfect harmony in a symbiotic eternal mycosis with all of my fellow psychonauts who have seen the message the shrooms extend to our conscious souls and free-thinking minds.
Now, aside from the natural beauty of the land and its people, there are in this special land, five farms, but they are unlike any farms that most people are familiar with, and as unfamiliar with these farms as most are, very few individuals will ever be able to experience the joy of knowing exactly what kind of pleasure the products of these farms bare for those who travel from afar seeking the fruits of the labors of the cultivars.
Like the three wise men that traveled from afar while following a star, seeking the knowledge that something new was to be born and arriving at a certain point in their life, they eventually found that which they believed they were seeking. As the tale goes, it was the savior, a baby who would bring them joy, bring them to a new way of life that they had never before thought possible, a way of life they had never before known.
So, in this beautiful land of Gouda, I observed those fellow intrepid travelers from distant lands and continents, citizens of humanities soul, psychonaut shroomers who have come from every corner of the earth to the Nederlands, the majority of which would come to visit the Smart Shops and Head Shops and coffee houses of Amsterdam, Rotterdam, Leiden and Utrecht, many to smoke the sacred ganja, nibble on the freely available marketed buttons of peyotl and many who would seek the sacred Fruits of the Gods , the very mushrooms which are the results of the very farms I speak to thee of.
I am your humble fortunate teller of tales, and I am jonored but to be but one of the blessed few, like a mystic sage or a simple mage amongst dozens of my generation who have shared in turning on the world to the truth of the healing and power that numerous sacred plants our lord and creator has blest us with and I am honored to share with all of you who speak of the need to seek and know true knowledge, the secrets of the magic and healing powers these plants imbue upon those who partake of them.
Although, I myself, am but a single spore amidst infinitesimal entities which are more uncountable than all the grains of sand upon the earth, am but just one humble servant of the sacred mushrooms amongst thousands of mycophiles who has spent, without any regret, a large majority of my life as an amateur ethnomycologist in good standing with those who became the scholars of the sacred shrooms, by listening to what they had to share.
Because of my immense love for these sacred mushrooms, I have been most fortunate to be a part of their history and to record their historical time line and re-entry re-emergence into contemporary Western Civilization throughout the world.
As I said before, "imagine." This I often say to myself, that I am so lucky that it is I who was not only privileged to partake in viewing a stunningly visual biomass of a mycelial network of growth bearing the 'Fruit of the Gods," that I realized this growth of fruiting bodies would soon give birth to a whole complex array of mysterious tryptamine alkaloidal compounds and that I would help others the doors tot heir minds and through these mushrooms I could introduce them to the possibilities of many brave new worlds of wonders all from the mushrooms given to all of us on this planet by our creator.
I should also mention, that while I observed these beautiful entities in their fruiting stages, I experienced the majestic waves echoing and reverberating through by soul and mind, a contact high while I visually explored and photographed the caverns of the cells where grew the sacred fungi.
Can you imagine how wonderful it is to be able to walk amongst those mushrooms as if we were all but brothers of the same soil. I cannot fully convey to all of you, the feelings I encountered as I watched the harvesting of these mushrooms (Panaeolus subbalteatus) by the son of the master cultivator of these mushrooms, then observed the very mushrooms being harvested by Eric the grower and his children and then packaged by the wife and friends of the family of the owners of the farm and I watched as the individual packages were prepared for mass marketing to several hundred Smart Shops situated throughout the country. And yes, I, your humble storyteller, am honored to have had the privilege to see these wonderful sights.
It was at this special farm, Fresh Mushrooms if Tiel, is unlike any other you have ever experienced. A farm with a special atmosphere. An atmosphere created to propagate the children of the spores, these cultivators of the special fungi are the progenitors of eternal mortality, they are the spreaders of the spores. Spores grown only so as to join you and others in a unique congress of unity with that there is and evermore shall be.
This is a farm whose caretakers are there for you and one of their primary purposes in this lifetime, is to grow these sacred mushrooms for all of you who love them, as do I. A farm, with a small group of cultivators, whose only love of and for these special mushrooms, is that they wish to share them with you and the world.
This then was their gift to you, it is their love of the shrooms powers which shape their daily lives and activities. These are the fungi masters of cultivation. Such is their farm located in Tiel, an hour’s drive from Amsterdam and this is where our epic tale begins and ends.
A Quest and Journey into the Cultivation and Legal use of Entheogenic Mushrooms in the Netherlands.
It was here in Amsterdam of 1998 that I was robbed of my backpack, photo albums, two cameras, hundreds of spore prints, my passport, money and dignity.
So there are some photos here in this section from 1998 which I gladly share on these pages, including two from my colleague, Dr. Tjakko Stijve, an amateur mycologist and chemist for Nestles in Vevey, Switzerland where for several decades he was their head chemist.
Since 1995, the sale of "magic mushrooms and other psychoactive plants have flourished in the Netherlands. These plant substances, both fresh and dried, are now commonly sold throughout the Netherlands. In fact, they are sold openly available to all public individuals who are 18-years of age and older in what are referred to by the Dutch as "Smart Shops;" and are also legally distributed and sold in head shops throughout the country. However, Dutch Parliament in December of 2008, decided to enact a provision that the mushrooms and plant materials offered to the public must be in their fresh stage and never sold as a dried or prepared offering.
From September 29, 1998 through October 6, 1998, I visited Amsterdam during this "Psychoactivity" conference held at the Tropen Museum Koninklijk Instituut voor de tropen The Royal Tropical Institute).
Although this conference was devoted to the use of many different species of natural occurring psychoactive plants, several lectures of a multi-disciplinary nature on plants, shamanism and other various altered states of consciousness were also presented, including those of a mycological nature
The conference was organized by Dutch author Arno Adelaars (Alles over Paddos, Alles over Ecstasy), Claudia Mueller-Ebeling and the "Conscious Dreams Smart Shop" co-founder Hans van den Hurk.
One of the presenters, Paul Stamets, author of Psilocybin Mushrooms of the World, presented a lecture on the various species of mushrooms known to contain the psychoactive alkaloids psilocine and psilocybine. Stamets also discussed the futility of the existing drug laws and their relationship to naturally occurring plants such as the entheogenic mushrooms and publicly noted that I had probably collected more specimens of the neurotropic fungi than any individual he had ever known in his lifetime.
Thus, this conference led me to travel throughout the city of Amsterdam to visit the many coffee houses, head shops, smart shops and sex shops located throughout the "red light district" and outlaying areas from the Central Station in the Tourist section of the city.
While there, on the opening day of registration for the symposium, I met briefly with the owner and master cultivator of what was to eventually become known as Fresh Mushrooms. His name was Hans and he was kind enough to present me with a photograph of one tier from a cell of his large-scaled cultivation of Copelandia cyanescens, which I posted on the Mushroom John Shroom World Web-Site.
At that time I had been totally unaware of the somewhat legal sales of magic mushroom and their popularity in the Nederlands. Thus, this gift of a photograph from Hans of the largest magic mushroom cultivation operation I had ever seen in my life, from a total stranger to me, was the highlight of being there amongst many people of a similar mind, the mind of the mushrooms.
However, during this visit, I was robbed in a restaurant of my backpack and all its possessions. That included several cameras, four photo albums of entheogenic drug/plant pioneers, sheets of spore prints, passport, irreplaceable 8 x 11 colored mushroom photographs and money. To show my appreciation for what happened next, I said a prayer for all of those who suddenly supported my loss. I must confess that I was very surprised and felt very humbled by the generosity of the people of Holland and Europe who heard of my plight and shared with me their love for the shrooms through a most generous donation and for that I gave my thanks to all of those fellow psychonauts who contributed to my relief over my loss of memories and personal items used in my trade by sharing with me in my loss, their charity which I know came from their symbiosis with me the mushrooms we all love so much.
Although, because of this theft, I unfortunately missed a whole day and a half of the conference, due to police reports, travelers aid assistance (which only fed me and provided me with free train tickets and bus passes to and from Amsterdam to the airport and the U.S. Embassy, to replace my stolen airline ticket and to obtain a new passport, I later learned that Paul Stamets and Jonathan Ott had both made a public announcement to the attendees of the conference that I had been robbed, so they passed a magic bowl around and took up quite a large collection of donated funds for my loss.
To sum up that account, in all, the people of Holland and Europe attending this conference had donated more than a $1000,00 to me, and one mushroom lover from Christiana, Denmark, introduced to me by Rob Montgomery of the BPC (Botanical Preservation Corps), personally loaned me over $700.00 dollars in advance for one hundred of my mushroom books to sell in his store in Denmark.
This kindness was far much more money than I was robbed of, but then I also remembered the terrible loss of all of the rare photographs in my backpack that were taken, so, because of this kindness of the Dutch and European people, I had a very good reason for wanting to again, visit this beautiful country again. And so, this first tale is about my first recent with my colleague Rich Gee and our visit to the Nederlands in the spring of 2006 at the Fresh Mushroom Farm in Tiel and the time we shared with Hans Grootewal, his family, his Master Cultivator Eric with his son the harvester and his colleagues and friends who shared with me their time and the kindness of their hearts.
So now I come to a turning point in this tale because it would take many pages to share with you, how Fresh Mushroom came to be the largest cultivators of the sacred fungi in the world. To start my tale I would have to recall a time in the past when R. Gordon Wasson and his friends first learned of these sacred mushrooms in the foothills of Sierra Mazateca, in Oaxaca, Mexico where the mushrooms first became known to the western world.
Since this is part of a chapter in my bibliography of entheogenic fungi, I must keep this tale short because I can only post 8 Images to the right side of each page of the CD-ROM this bibliography appears in.
As the world public slowly became aware of the existence in México of mushrooms that caused strange visions and were also used in native healing and curing ceremonies, the scientific community began to express interest in the visionary properties of these mushrooms. And this led to the eventual cultivation of these long lost archaic children.
While many scholars were aware of the common knowledge that several narcotic plants, as well as many visionary or entheogenic plants, have been and still are being cultivated for their magical and healing properties derived from their narcotic, visionary and euphoric effects, some of these plants have been known to have been cultivated for over 5,000 years.
The oldest known cultivated narcotic plant is probably marijuana (Cannabis sativa and Cannabis indica). Seeds from the Cannabis plant, as well as the leaves, stalks, and stems of the plant, were unearthed from an archeological site in China. They have been dated back to at least 4,000 B. C. Recently, a sarcophagus of an ancient Shaman, thousands of years old, was found with a sack of marijuana leaves on his body. Of course, we all know now that Cannabis is freely available in the Nederlands in Smart Shops and Coffee Houses and grown there for ludible use.
The opium poppy (Papaver somniferum), known for it’s euphoric and pain killing properties, has also been cultivated for several thousand years. Seeds and poppy straw have been unearthed in excavation sites in both Switzerland and Germany, dating back to approximately 1,500 B.C.
Another well-known cultivated drug-plant is coca (Erythroxylum coca), used on a daily basis by indigenous native inhabitants of Peru, Ecuador, and Colombia in South America. It is also used in many commercial products in those countries, including now in toothpaste. And Coca Leaf beverages are now legally sold in restaurants and coffee houses in the Nederlands.
Some other psychoactive plants cultivated and used for their somewhat minor stimulating effects include: coffee beans, tea leaves, and kola nuts (caffeine); cocao (theobromine) and caffeine); sugar cane and sugar beets (sucrose); tobacco (nicotine) and hops. Each of these substances are cultivated and used almost on a daily basis by hundreds of millions of individuals throughout the world. For example, betel nut (Areca catechu) is used daily by more than one-tenth of the world population
While many of the various primitive shamans of such drug-using cultures knew the secrets of cultivating many of these plants, scholarly literature offers no reference on the cultivation of psilocybian fungi in indigenous cultures where these mushrooms were once used or are still currently in use. Many of the Middle American cultures, which employed mushrooms for ritual ceremonies, often utilized other psychoactive plants when mushrooms were not available.
Which now brings us to a turning point in the history of visionary plant cultivation, this time, a mushroom, belonging to the genus Psilocybe, is currently being illicitly cultivated by thousands of people whose sole interest is in growing them for their psychotropic effects, rather than as a source of food.
The first cultivated mushroom to be examined for suspected psychotropic properties which caused cerebral mycetism in humans, occurred in the early part of the 19th century when Dr. Michael Levine sought to provide extracts of Panaeolus venenosus (syn=Panaeolus subbalteatus) to laboratory animals subjects in a fact finding experiment to determine what was in these common garden and mushroom cultivated farm weed mushrooms. Mushrooms which were reported to cause hallucinations and hilarity in what was considered accidental ingestions of said mushrooms as sources of food additives.
Unfortunately, Dr. Levine was unable to confine the active tryptamine alkaloids in these mushrooms and so they lay hidden from the world until their rediscovery by the Wasson's and their colleagues and their subsequence 1958 synthesis of psilocine and psilocybine by Swiss chemist, Albert Hofmann, the father and discoverer of LSD from the ergot fungus, Claviceps purpurea and the LSA (Lysergic acid amides) found in the Morning Glory seeds of México and the world.
Eventually, in the mid 1950s, we learn Dr. Roger Heim of Paris cultivated the first magic mushroom of the modern world, Psilocybe mexicana. After several failed attempts at cultivating the mushrooms, Dr. Heim finally succeded in his attempts to fruit the special fungi. Be before too long, the primary cultivated species of the world became Psilocybe cubensis, a species that also began its cultivational roots in a Parisian laboratory during the late 1950s. However, we have no time to reflect on the events which led up to this trend and present popularity whereas thousands of intrepid cultivators now mass produce psilocybian mushrooms for illicit ludible consumption.
While early research into the field of cultivation served the scientific community with its own unlimited supply of mushrooms, they (the mushrooms) were still not readily available to the vast growing number of users who felt that they needed to experience them. One must remember that the first cultivated psilocybine mushrooms that were grown were in laboratories and were cultivated in petri plates and Erlenmeyer flasks.
The first of the published growing manuals only created a new demand and need for more psychotropic fungi, which, in turn, became a matter of necessity for the supplier as well as the user. In this manner, the first cultivated illicit specimens of Psilocybe cubensis were grown in mason jars, and those small crops eventually led to the mass production of P. cubensis, which soon became a reality as the home cultivators Of P. cubensis soon grew large amounts of mushrooms in trays, aquariums and large garden bed-boxes and eventually this led to the large mass-scaled legal cultivation of between 10,000-200,000 kilograms a week in the Nederland’s.
This would be the total amount of mushrooms grown by five commercial suppliers of which, Fresh Mushrooms is the prime shroom provider for 60% of the Nederlands and 90% of Europe and the rest of world. While Fresh mushrooms, on an off- season, produce about 2000 kilos per week, in full operation, they are able to produce 20,000 kilos or more of the magic mushrooms.
I would also like to point out that while Fresh Mushrooms claimed it was the largest distributor of magic mushrooms, Dutch newspaper articles noted that Procare was the primary provider of magic mushroom in the Nederlands and the European market.
A third grower whose packaged products are labeled McShroom, is a very mysterious and suspicious distributor who does not want anyone to know who he is and is not interested in meeting anyone who wants to seek him out. His mushrooms apparently seem to be available more in head shops then in smart shops in the Nederlands.