Recommended: What the Fungus

Welcome to my “Recommended” series of posts. These will be weekly – for now – posts about resources and sites I have found over the past while that I found so excellent, I want to share them with you, my dear readers. 🙂 Whether or not I continue to post these, and how often they are posted, will depend on feedback. Please feel free to comment below, and if you have a favorite resource of your own, do share, and I will review them for possible future posts.

I hope you find these recommendations as useful and enjoyable as I have!

When I was a kid, I refused to eat mushrooms.

Especially morel mushrooms, which we found in various places here on the farm. I thought they looked like brains.

My parents, being Polish, loved mushrooms, but couldn’t make me eat them.

To this day, I have yet to taste a morel mushroom.

I have, however, developed a taste for other mushrooms, and even an interest in the idea of growing them at home. I had discovered a website that sold different types of mushroom spores, which I didn’t even know was a thing until then. We were still living in the city, however, so the closest we ever got to growing mushrooms was to buy an oyster mushroom kit we saw at a grocery store. Once.

It didn’t grow very well, but we did get a couple of mushrooms out of it.

Since moving back to the farm, we have talked about buying spores and inoculating areas around the farm. I have been interested in trying morel mushrooms, but have only ever seen very expensive dried ones in stores. Since I already know they can grow here in the wild, it seemed logical to inoculate an area somewhere closer to the house.

Unfortunately, the website I’d found years ago has disappeared. I found a few other sites, but they were all US based.

Then I saw a video on a YouTube channel I’ve recommended previously, The Urban Farmer talking about a company called What the Fungus.

Oh, have I been smitten!

For starters, they are Canadian. They might be in BC, but it still makes being able to find varieties that will grow here in our province much greater.

What is awesome is that this company doesn’t just grow and sell fresh mushrooms, mushroom spores and the things you need to grow them. They provide a lot of information and support to teach people how to start a viable mushroom growing business for themselves.

With the current Wuhan virus shut downs, they are now producing videos that focus on how to continue to run a business and make an income when almost all avenues for sales are no longer available.

While most of their growing videos involve greenhouses or indoor mushroom farms, they also have videos on growing mushrooms on logs, outdoors. Which is more in line with what we were originally thinking of doing here at the farm.

Their video channel is a wealth of information, from how to grow different types of mushrooms, to equipment used, to financial concerns.

On their website, you can buy mushroom kits and supplies and, if you are in their area of BC, order fresh mushrooms. They even have a mentorship program for those interested in commercial mushroom growing.

Now, we’re just interested in growing mushrooms for our own use. We have lots of mushrooms growing wild here at the farm, but I have no idea which ones are safe to eat (except morels, which I have yet to look for since we’ve moved here, because where I remember finding them is actually on the other quarter section that’s rented out), so this would be a way to have mushrooms we can be sure are edible. We would also be able to grow varieties that are either not available locally in stores, or are way out of our budget.

After discovering What the Fungus, however, I am starting to feel that growing commercially is something we could do at some point. Right now, this farm makes no money. We don’t own it, so we’re not the ones paying the taxes or the property insurance (and the income from the renter barely covers the taxes, if I remember correctly), but the maintenance of this place is almost all out of our own rather limited pockets. As it stands now, at some point, when my husband and I are no longer able, it’s already planned for the girls to take over as caretakers, and it would be good to have things set up so they can run a profitable farm, even on just the few acres that aren’t rented out. So this is one of the avenues we can consider in the longer term.

With the wealth of information and resources available in the videos and on the website, this actually seems quite feasible!

6 thoughts on “Recommended: What the Fungus

  1. Do you need to take out a loan to start a mushroom farm? O_o

    “The borrower is slave to the lender”

    Much of the hype there reminds me of agriculture in California; constantly chasing trends. The wine grape industry being the biggest, best example. Grape vine were so over-planted with everybody wanting to be a cool, trendy boutique winery that there was ab absolute glut of grapes last year. Some farmers couldn’t even given them away.

    Growing mushrooms may be a good additional source of income for a farm, BUT literally betting the farm on one trendy crop has been a bad idea since the pre-civil war South. 😛 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    • True, but are mushrooms trendy in that way? I know some types are, as medicinals. Maybe it’s just where I live, but I don’t see them in the same way.

      One thing about these is, it’s small scale and compact. It doesn’t require many acres. Being in greenhouses, it’s easier to change focus, if need be, I think.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Oh, for sure!

        For us, it’s one of those ideas that potentially fits our needs. It’s a high return crop that can be done on a small scale (microgreens are another example of that). We are never going to be a traditional farm here. It’s just not big enough to bring in large scale crops that will actually make a profit. Most farmers rely on having multiple businesses and/or jobs to supplement their farm income, because it’s so bloody expensive to be a farmer. As I’ve heard before, it’s the only industry where you have to buy everything you need at retail, then sell everything you produce at wholesale.

        But, as it things are now, the farm is a money loser for my family, even with most of the land being rented out. Anything we do has to be small scale, intensive, low cost to start and high return. That would require filling a highly targeted niche market, and being able to be very flexible.

        If we were to go that route, on top of just trying to be as self sufficient as possible.

        Liked by 1 person

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