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David: Market leaders & keepers for cultivated fungi

 
pollinator
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Location: Mason Cty, WA
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forest garden fungi cooking
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Hi David, thanks for your permies residency.

In the area of Vermont that I'm investigating for a permaculture homestead (Champlain Valley), some folks have tried to make money with mushrooms, mostly oysters & shiitake. But the guy most bullish about mushroom futures sells only chaga! It seems they could never get their output correctly dialed in to meet demand; they usually had too much and were putting mushrooms in everything to unload them at their peak.

It seems to me that one should continually produce oysters, shiitake and winecap as possible, but you would need some other mushrooms to keep people's interest. And value-added products (dried, foods, extracts, infused oils, whatever) would also be a good idea for both marketing and surplus.

But in my inquiries I heard there is a distribution ceiling on mushrooms: unless you can get your harvest to waiting hands in a timely manner, it is hard to expect significant income from mushrooms. Some people gave up.

So my questions are:

1) How best to overcome the distribution ceiling? (e.g. hook up with major distributors along highways; set up a cooperative that engages independent trucking for several farms' harvests)

2) What mushrooms besides the staple oysters and shiitake (and maybe winecap) get and hold people's interest, and what value-added products can you make from them (including foods for immediate consumption...saw a lot of that and it would be great for a stand by the highway).

3) What mushroom holds its value best when dried?
 
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Fredy,

Almost the entire back half of our book is dedicated to small niche marketing, we even put our templates in so people can utilize what we have learned.With out giving away the farm-

1) How best to overcome the distribution ceiling? (e.g. hook up with major distributors along highways; set up a cooperative that engages independent trucking for several farms' harvests)
We did some work with a local CSA and restaurant (if you can find one you can work with!) Winter time was slow for us,our indoor production was mainly for special order Thanksgiving, Christmas meals. We always kept some grow kits also. Reishi was another we had a demand for much like chagga. Shelf life is great!

2) What mushrooms besides the staple oysters and shiitake (and maybe winecap) get and hold people's interest, and what value-added products can you make from them (including foods for immediate consumption...saw a lot of that and it would be great for a stand by the highway).
Hercium was a big one for along with piopinno, though your climate is probably not conducive outdoors. We also did a variety of oysters too, Golden, Pink, Italian, blue etc. to keep it eyecatching! We also dehydrated and made gravy amenders, rubs, etc.

3) What mushroom holds its value best when dried?
Shiitake, Reishi were some of our best dried, Morels chantarelles-black are some of the wild ones that do well also.

As I stated in the opening we have over 60 pages dedicated to the marketing aspects of small niche (mushroom) business www.mycelialmayhem.com heck order one I'll even signit for you Hope some of this help. In closing I try to encourage to a) start small b) figure out your successful species for your area c) don't go hog wild and find your market area won't buy your product,there is a whole nameko story tied to that lesson learned! Still love growing and eating them though.

Dave
 
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The whole drying thing was one of the reasons I liked mushrooms as a farm crop - if you can't sell the product fresh, it's possible to dry or otherwise value-add-process it, and not lose the entire value.

Have you seen the Shiitake Bacon recipes (I've also seen the technique used with King Oyster.) Smoking some of the fresh produce wouldn't require much additional hands-on time, but give a new point of intrigue. I plan to use this when I get my mushroom setup actually selling things - I am still working on timing flushes for a more even supply.
 
david sewak
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Becky,

I forgot to mention previously I used to trade mushrooms to a cheese maker at one of our markets ( I personally would love to learn the art) he'd make a couple of wheels and I'd get one, that would be another process that would help sustain the products value and actually add to it. Once you get into processing though each state is different in their rules. I have also had pickled mushrooms too.

As for the flushes and your supply issues we cover a good bit of that in the business section of our book www.mycelialmayhem.com but my best "quick" advice, clip board and notes! Figure out what works for you best, the temp, humidity and length from inoculation to market. At the height of our season (summer) I always went over kill, planning for some species to falter so I had back ups. That is one of the reasons I grew so many varieties of Oysters.

Dave
 
Fredy Perlman
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Location: Mason Cty, WA
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Becky, shiitake bacon not only sounds like a great idea, but inspires me to think of shiitake jerky. Wildman Steve Brill had a great recipe for burdock root jerky that ought to have everyone digging up that friendly invasive; he had adapted it from the ingredients in a number of meat jerky recipes. I love it and plan to make a grip of it when I'm in burdock country again, but anything (esp mushrooms!) with an absorbent nature and that toothsome texture should be smoked or jerkied. Vegans everywhere rejoice.

Thanks David, I do indeed plan to raise lion's mane, but I hadn't thought of piopinno. I expect to have a lot of indoor space I could work with. Gravy amenders...sounds like a great idea. I heard spawn kits sold well in my area and didn't see any at markets.

Given that so many mushroomers raise their shiitake from sawdust, I bet having a fruiting log on display wherever one is selling would draw the connoisseurs. Is it true that log-fruited shiitake taste better?

And you KNOW that if I don't win your book, I'm buying one
 
david sewak
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I'm partial to log grown, especially the cold weather strains that take a year plus sometime closer to 2 years until fruiting. We had them on Oak (Both white & red), Beech, Poplar (fast run, big fruitings collapsed logs afterwards) Yeah the fruiting log, a grow kit anything with a fruit body drew them in. Pink oyster, golden and King were all eye catchers too. I liked selling my "crooked" logs at shows, they ticked me off when were stacking, rotating etc. but people loved them-"artsy" I guess? We also did classes which were a big hit, they are fun and can make you some but you almost have to do them when your running crazy, oh yeah and wrote a book!
 
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How do you prepare the pink and blue oysters
 
david sewak
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Prepare as in cooking? Or prepare as in Growing? Pinks, Golden and Kings we did primarily on grow bags Pinks especially we did indoors, due to their hatred of cool weather <55 degrees! The blues we did on logs, totems, Logs, Stumps, and steel grey ones. We also did pure whites too. It's just in the spawn you buy and how you want to grow them. Hope this helps.

Dave
 
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What is everyone doing with their waste logs or mushroom compost?
 
david sewak
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Alex not to plug my book...oh wait yes I do, I have a whole series of uses for that. We created raised mounds, used logs for garden structure (herb wheels, raised beds, Asparagus and Jerusalem artichoke beds) I photo document and explain these methods you can utilize! For me there never is any waste, just another use that hasn't been thought of! There are so many ways to to incorporate your mushroom substrates it boogles the mind, and only your imagination can limit it!

 
alex Keenan
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david sewak wrote:Alex not to plug my book...oh wait yes I do, I have a whole series of uses for that. We created raised mounds, used logs for garden structure (herb wheels, raised beds, Asparagus and Jerusalem artichoke beds) I photo document and explain these methods you can utilize! For me there never is any waste, just another use that hasn't been thought of! There are so many ways to to incorporate your mushroom substrates it boogles the mind, and only your imagination can limit it!



Are you doing anything with chitin enzymes. You fungus has alot of chitin. Earth worms release enzymes when they digest chitin which remains in their castings.
People are now using worm castings high in chitin enzymes to reduce harmful fungus in annuals and to repeal insects.
Are you working in this area?
 
david sewak
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Alex we just kind of let them do their thing. If you listen to the podcast I did you'll hear where I talk about how our Wine Cap Mycelial mat seemed to protect out tomatoes from late season blight! I know all about chitin-that's why you can't eat them raw No offense to salad bars and boring white buttons every where!!
 
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