Van Cotter’s passionate interest in fungi began when he was assistant manager on a fruit tree farm in Michigan watching beautiful cherries succumb to fungal brown rot. For his graduate degrees he studied beech bark disease in New England and then bolete mushrooms (friends of the forest) in Nepal under a Fulbright Grant receiving a PhD from Virginia Tech. After his career in the Crop Protection Industry, besides some consulting, Van has been active as a volunteer in mycological teaching, research and fungal herbarium curation including at UNC. Van also serves on farmer-to-farmer assignments around the world.
Irene Cotter is a recent kombucha brewer, two-plus years and counting. Her specialty is blueberry, ginger kombucha. For her graduate degree, she studied the endangered plants of New Hampshire receiving a master’s degree from the University of New Hampshire. More recently, she has had a pet sitting business and is currently a dog photographer.