Jennifer May demos the 14 Sacred Mushrooms at Murphy’s. Photos courtesy 14 Sacred Mushrooms.


Some people hate them because they taste earthy and spongy. Other people love them for the same reasons. Jennifer May, 45, loves to make them into a powder, mix them with spices and cacao, and sell it for you to mix into hot drinks. She calls it 14 Sacred Mushrooms.

Originally from Pennsylvania, May came to Humboldt County for the first time when she was 22 years old. It was on a camping trip where she realized that she needed to leave the East Coast and seek out the next step in her path. It took her two months and following the band Phish on tour to get her here.

May originally had the intention of returning back east, but quickly found a sense of community. She started a gig at the Bayshore Mall, where she met her husband, and decided to stay for a while. After a few months of dating, it became difficult to stay in the harsh Humboldt economy of the early 2000s, so they left.

Life took them away to Tahoe, Washington, and North Carolina as they began to have children. They did not believe they could ever return, but they still had ties here. Then 11 years ago, a few close friends began to renovate a house and invited May and her family. They could not resist so they returned with nothing but the clothes on their backs and two kids in tow.

“We had to live super simply,” May said.”It was some of the best years of our lives. We didn’t have a lot and we just played in the forest.”

Over the years, May did photography for Coastal Grove Charter School and provided child care, but naturally, kids grow up and things change. May’s experience here has thematically been, “a struggle.” Maybe the Humboldt Hustle in reality is the Humboldt Struggle.

For May, it came in two particular ways — her health and her finances.

She felt as though all of her focus was revolving around taking supplements so she began studying naturopathic medicine. She came across the book, Christopher Hobbs’s Medicinal Mushrooms: The Essential Guide: Boost Immunity, Improve Memory, Fight Cancer, Stop Infection, and Expand Your Consciousness and decided to go all in on mushrooms.

May found a farmer in Washington who grows, powders and sells the 14 different types of mushrooms she was looking for. She then began mixing and playing with ratios of spices, cacao and mushroom por until she found her ideal replacement for coffee — or, in some cases, as a supplement to it. She began to share her mushroom cacao blend with friends and people were responding well to it.

Then the struggle came in the form of veterinarian bills for the family dog, which they could not afford. Quickly, May decided to start a fundraiser where she would sell her mushroom cacao blends to pay for the bills. From that, 14 Sacred Mushrooms was born.

May rented out a kitchen to package her mixes and started selling them out of our local grocers, including Murphy’s Markets, Eureka Natural Foods and North Coast Co-Op. You might find her at one of these stores demo-ing her cacao blends or selling at our local farmers markets. [CORRECTION: Oops, not at the Farmers’ Markets. Yet! — Ed.]

14 Sacred Mushrooms has already expanded to Andy’s Produce Market in Sebastopol, markets in Santa Rosa, and Shelton’s Natural Foods Market in Healdsburg. May has plans to launch a website to make it easier to find her product but for now, she has just started to use Instagram.

May often refers to the mycelium found in mushrooms. Mycelium is a root-like structure of a fungus consisting of a mass of branching or hyphae that grows underground but can also thrive in other places such as rotting tree trunks.

It looks like webbing, but for fungi.

May describes this webbing or networks of mycelium similarly to how she views Humboldt as a community — all interconnected and eager to thrive.

“Mushrooms are our allies and they have a lot to teach us,” May said.