There is an Easley attraction, a niche farm close to home that you may be unfamiliar with, or just wanted to know more about. A local treasure, Mushroom Mountain, is a 26-acre ecotourism farm that’s well-known in the world of agritourism and mushroom education. It’s an Upstate hotspot that’s worth a visit, with or without the kids. Their workshops are more adult focused, but tours and events can be tailored for the little ones.
The farm boasts a lab, a mushroom trail, an outdoor firepit area, a store, and an in-door classroom. They host tours, workshops, certifications, and mushroom identification classes. In addition, their notable shop sells everything needed to be your own mushroom farmer in very short order, with useful items like grow kits, farming and mushroom cultivation tools, books, and other distinctive gifts.
This Saturday, they hosted a sold-out Spring Cultivation Workshop featuring fungi that fruit in the springtime like Shiitake, Chicken of the Woods, Lion’s Mane, Morel, Oyster, and more. Participants came from all over the US, mostly from the South, but also folks visiting from as far as Canada.
This class focused on the ecology of mushrooms with hands-on training, demonstrating how easy it is to produce fungi. The students were provided a Ziploc bag with wet cardboard (clean and without ink) as substrate, or growing medium. Cardboard is easily sourced and plentiful, so it’s environmentally friendly. The pasteurized cardboard is used to wrap a mushroom, and moist cardboard is used as a food source to grow and produce mushrooms. Voila, fungi!
Next, Brandon Owen, Mushroom Mountain Sales and Lab Assistant, gave a tour of the lab as he described the process of spawn making (making mushroom “seeds” that can be added to a growing medium to produce mushrooms). Walking on a woodland path called the Mushroom Trail, participants got to see displays of how 32 different varieties of mushrooms are cultivated.
Afterwards, the students attended a hands-on workshop with Megan Deaton, Mountain Mushroom Wholesale Division Specialist, on the inoculation of wood logs to grow their own mushrooms. It’s as simple as drilling holes, filling the holes with spawn, sealing the hole with wax, and waiting for the log to fruit. The students got to take their inoculated logs home to keep.
Brandon Owen also showed how to grow mushrooms in garden beds. As another simple option, mushroom growers can layer the spawn with pasteurized straw and wood chips.
Taking a break from that physical labor, lunch was served at the outdoor firepit. Owner, Olga Katic, put out a mushroom-themed homespun spread that included salads, pickled onions, pickled beets, handmade vegan bread, and fresh lemonade. The main event to this wonderful meal was a homemade tasty mushroom stew with a hint of coconut and spices.
Following lunch, the hosts talked about the nutritional and medicinal properties of mushrooms and other fungi. According to them, certain mushrooms help with inflammation, and lower cholesterol. Some are adaptogens; they help our bodies manage stress and restore balance after a stressful situation. Two servings a week are optimal to reap the benefits. Even extracts were touted as being very beneficial.
By the end of the day, you’ve learned more about this sustainable farm and their reason for being: to steward the natural world, and inspire awe on the simplicity, and benefits, of the mushroom. You get an A to Z education of mycelium from wild mushroom foraging, to cooking, nutrition, and cultivation. It’s a unique day in the neighborhood, all right at your doorstep.
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