The Upper Valley’s repertoire and supply of locally-grown foods keeps expanding . . . wheat, spelt, rice, soy . . and mushrooms! This weekend, I participated in a shiitake mushroom growing workshop at the Marsh Billings Rockefeller National Historical Park. Forester Bill Stark of Cobb Hill, Hartland, VT was the presenter. We learned about shiitake mushroom cultivation and then experimented with the process ourselves.
The first step was to drill holes in the hardwood logs; Bill suggests oak, maple, ironwood, or hophornbeam. The holes are drilled in staggered rows all around the log.The next step was to innoculate the logs with shiitake sawdust spawn using brass inoculators. The inoculators were filled with spawn which was then plunged into the holes. (One can also purchase plugs of sawdust spawn to hammer into the holes. Melted cheese wax was then dabbed on the spawn to seal against contaminants. We each took home an inoculated log. We will have to keep our logs in 60-70% shade, out of the wind, maintaining high moisture content. (Soaking for 2-4 hours every 30-60 days is recommended.) The fruits of our labor should emerge in 8-14 months. Logs may produce 8-12 fruitings (4-5 years).
Bill, working with others at Cobb Hill Co-housing, has started a Shiitake CSA through Cobb Hill’s Cedar Mountain Farm Stand. Info on last year’s CSA is at https://www.facebook.com/permalink.php?story_fbid=296848473715951&id=114328438594122. I am also hoping Cobb Hill Mushrooms will commercially produce the tasty mushroom/onion spread Bill shared at the workshop.
The workshop was co-sponsored by Vermont Coverts, an organization dedicated to educating landowners in sound forest management practices; there were a number of workshop participants who owned large tracts of forested land and see mushroom growing as an additional source of income. I am hopeful that we will soon have a “mushrooming” of this new business and new source of local food. For more info on growing shiitake mushrooms see: http://blogs.cornell.edu/mushrooms/factsheets/ or http://northernwoodlands.org/articles/article/growing_shiitake_mushrooms Also see www.Fieldforest.net