How to Grow Mushrooms
Story and photos by Scott Myers
Sasha Miller hosted Permaculture Akron’s August meet-up for an active demonstration of her Purplebrown Farm’s foray into growing edible mushrooms.
Shamelessly copying and pasting from Purplebrown’s Facebook page:
“Purplebrown Farmstead joined the Countryside Initiative Program in the Cuyahoga Valley National Park in 2016. Our approach is to apply an intensive permaculture design process to develop a long term vision for these 12 acres. We are growing a resilient and productive food forest, including cider apples, diverse fruits & nuts, herbs, flowers, mushrooms, and livestock. We are host community events throughout the year, focused on community, permaculture, education and recreation.”
The tour began with the end in mind, as the group saw tree branches, protected under the home’s eaves, producing shitake mushrooms.
Sasha demonstrates the first step in preparing white oak branches (deemed the best wood for producing mushrooms) for inoculation with mushroom spoors: soaking the wood in the farm’s very cool, very large kettle.
The active part of the tour involved multiple trips carrying and carting the dried, inoculated, white oak branches and burlap coffee sacks to the other side of the farm’s pond – work that the tour group completed in much less time than it would take one or two farmers. We re-stacked the branches in preparation for the skilled workers later to place them throughout the woods, where they will produce mushrooms for harvest.
A view back over the farm from the far side of the pond, where we relocated the branches:
The farm’s duck flock cannot keep up with the duckweed growing in the pond. A future project will involve assembling and installing a windmill to keep the pond aerated. This will both keep down the duckweed growth and allow Purplebrown to begin stocking the pond with fish.
Stacking functions, Sasha feeds their pigs on one of the return trips. The pigs control vegetation in areas not currently under cultivation on the farm.
Post tour, we were treated to fresh baked zucchini bread and wonderful solar brewed tea. Most of the Permaculture Akron visitors were not yet ready to go home, so the tour continued in the hoop house. Its current functions include housing the pond ducks over the winter as well as providing space for vermiculture composting.
The tour would not have been possible with out the vision and commitment of Sabrena Salsbury of Salsbury-Schweyer. Thanks, Sabrena!