We’ve been growing our own gourmet mushrooms as a hobby since early 2019.
After exhausting our appetite for mushrooms and giving away pounds every week, we worked with Mark Berkley of Innovative Agriculture: http://www.innovativeagco.com to move from hobby growers into a productive business. On December 10, 2020, The Mushroom Mission registered as an LLC. We buy certified organic ready to fruit blocks in bulk from Field and Forest: https://www.fieldforest.net, which are fruited and grown to prime condition for consumption. Varieties include, but are not limited to: Chestnut, Lion’s Mane, Reishi, King Oyster, Shiitake, Black Pearl Oyster and Field and Forest’s own Grey DoveTM strain of Blue oyster (Pleurotus ostreatus). We are currently developing techniques to grow additional varieties (watch for news of additional varieties as they become available).
Fungi have many potentials from food and medicine to bioremediation.
Saprophytic fungi grow on dead organic matter including both plants and animals. They cycle energy and minerals back into the ecosystem from organic debris to humus which allows plants to grow. Parasitic fungi infect living plants and animals. One of the beneficial uses of parasitic fungi is insect control. Enjoy Paul Stamets TED talk with information on entomopathogenic (insect killing) fungi Paul Stamets: 6 ways mushrooms can save the world. Bioremediation is the use of living organisms to clean up environmental contaminants, pollutants and toxins. Mycoremediation is bioremediation using fungi. Fungi have amazing potential for bioremediation.
THE FIVE R's
Landfill waste reduction is a primary concern as more space is devoted to landfills every year. Organic material doesn't belong in landfills, but most people aren’t sure what else to do with it. We plan on offering community education on composting through Mark Berkely of Regenerative Agriculture Colorado, and perhaps taking a more active role in the future. Construction waste takes up a lot of space, and is a continuing problem. Fungi, especially mushrooms have a unique potential to convert some of this waste into usable material. Sheetrock is gypsum, which is one of the primary nutrients required for proper fruiting of many mushrooms. IKEA has replaced styrofoam with dead mycelium as a packing material, https://www.globalcitizen.org/fr/content/mushroom-fungi-packaging-ikea-decompose-ecovative, and some varieties of mushroom mycelium can be processed to use as a leather substitute. Reliance on meat is a major contributor to deforestation, erosion and global warming. Transitioning from a high meat diet is easier if people eat mushrooms with a similar flavor, texture and protein content to meat.
5 gallon buckets are an ideal growing container from some mushrooms, particularly oyster mushrooms, and can be reused indefinitely. Plastics that are not being recycled can be reused. Autoclavable bags can be reused several times. Each time an item is reused, energy is saved compared to recycling, carbon is kept out of the atmosphere, and landfills fill up more gradually.
Agricultural waste can be recycled to help produce food. Wheat straw is the medium we use for growing certain oyster mushrooms. Moldy hay or straw or compost piles can be used after pasteurization. This is a better way to dispose of these wastes than burning them. Many plant materials can be used.
Mushrooms have been shown to collect heavy metals (Paul Stamets: 6 ways mushrooms can save the world). Then the fruiting bodies can be isolated and removed from the site. Run-off water is naturally purified thru mycelial filtration. Mycofiltration: Harnessing Fungi to Clean Polluted Water.
This can be applied to point source pollution risks, like sewage waste from a hog farm. We are currently working with a local pig farmer on this process. This will also help reduce erosion in the area. Check out the TED talk linked above to learn how fungi cleaned up an experimental petroleum dump when no other organisms or methods were effective and even converted it into a thriving ecosystem.
Because saprophytic fungi have an excellent ability to break down organic material, they are ideal for converting organic waste into rich, usable compost and soil. Spent soil from agriculture and industry can be reused. Intensive agriculture depletes the nutritional potential of soil. Endomycorrhizal fungi form symbiotic unions with plants and help them absorb more nutrients from soil. Community awareness needs to increase so that compostable materials are kept out of the landfill and instead used to restore vital nutrients to the soil.