Downtime: What a Fun-Gi!


What a Fun-Gi!

Our client George is a simple man who does honest work. Truthfully, maintaining a farm is as honest work as it gets, not quite for the faint of

heart. And yet, George has been farming since he was very young. “Younger than I should’ve been,” George laughed. This would be the case for most farmers. However, George is no ordinary farmer. He grows one of the rarest and most unique crops in the industry: shiitake mushrooms.

 

Highly sought after from all over, the fungi are known for its diverse health benefits and versatility in the kitchen. Some key health benefits include its ability to help carcinogens, boost immunity and support heart health. Native to east Asia, this wonder crop is mostly produced in Japan, which ac

counts for 83% of its production around the world. Shiitake growers are incredibly rare in the states. And yet, George is both casually and modestly growing them practically in his backyard as a diversified crop.

How does he do it? And why?

“Well, it gives me a chance to be in the woods,” said George. “Always been a woodsy guy.”

You see, shiitake mushrooms grow on newly cut greenwood, which he finds most commonly in the winter. The prep itself begins in the spring, then these logs go through a spawn run throughout the first year.

The overall process is quite complex, requiring him to drill many holes into the logs, injecting them with sawdust spawn

Shiitake mycelium he gets from Wisconsin. The logs are then fruited by soaking them in cold water for 24-48 hours. The logs are then leaned against a fruiting rail, and during the next several days the mushrooms begin to sprout and grow through lesions in the bark. The mushrooms, when matured, are carefully cut and rushed to the market. The process begins about a year after inoculation.

George has been doing this since 2000, learning from a fellow farmer in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.

Around the area, he sells the shiitake mushrooms to various restaurants and farm markets, such as local restaurant Homestead and Birdfish Brewery, which made a shiitake-infused IPA with them.

Through and through, George works tremendously hard on his farm, taking great care of his crops and selling some of the freshest produce in town alongside his wife, Kathy. But the care he puts into the shiitake mushrooms is different–something he best describes as a “labor of love.”

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