Spawning something good to eat


I had a fun, local-food-y opportunity on April 3 when I showed up, along with about a dozen other people, for a mushroom-growing workshop at Mark Jones’ Sharondale Farm.
Jones has a lot going on at his Cismont property, including a big mushroom operation and a large garden. You walk around and get the sense that experiments in food-growing are everywhere: unusual types of garden beds, piles of logs that you know aren’t just piles of logs, fruit trees and compost piles. It’s the kind of place that makes your average permaculturist wannabe jealous. (Ahem.)
The Sharondale “fungal forest” is impressive: dozens and dozens of logs, stood on end beneath the trees. Each one is inoculated with mushroom spawn, labeled with a metal tag on one end, and put into a rotating system that maxes out mushroom production.

  Shiitake logs!

Jones focused on telling us about the processes for growing shiitake, oyster and garden giant mushrooms, along the way showing off a few curiosities, like oyster mushrooms growing out of a phone book. (A tastier way to recycle?) And he demonstrated the basics of inoculating logs, which involves at least one power tool.

Jones watches while a participant tries out inoculation. Photo by Robin Macklin.

“The best food travels no further than arm’s length,” said Jones, articulating an extreme version of the eat-local philosophy. At a place like his, where the homegrown food is peeking around every corner and a homemade earth oven sits behind the house, it’s easy to get on board with Jones’ modest proposal. Even easier since he sent us each home with a bag of oyster mushroom spawn!

Anyone else growing mushrooms, or been to a Sharondale workshop?