Which Mushroom Class is right for me?

Interested in mushroom cultivation on a backyard, hobby, or small commercial scale? Workshops offered this April, May, and June offer participants basic cultivation techniques and connect them to the possibilities of growing in many contexts. This year we are trying to focus our education to address the unique needs of different audiences around the Northreastern US. Read more below to learn about which class may best address your interests.

All classes will teach participants about the basics of growing shiitake, stropharia, and oyster mushrooms. At some we'll also throw in Lions Mane cultivation, which is currently being researched for its potential at Cornell University.

Are you....

Mostly interested in the learning the basics of cultivation?

Try attending on of the mushroom demonstration events. These are three hour classes that cover the very basics of mushroom biology and cultivation of shiitake on logs, oyster on toilet paper rolls, and stropharia on sawdust/woodchips. Plus, you get to inoculate your own log and take it home!

SUNY Ulster, Stone Ridge, NY: April 28 from 1 - 4 pm (almost full!)
Cornell Cooperative Extension Hamilton County, Piseco, NY: May 19 from 1 - 4pm 
Understory Mushroom Farm, Mecklenburg NY: May 5 from 9am  - 12pm

A landowner looking to utilize your woodlot?

These classes focus on the use of mushrooms to promote healthy forests, by both discussing the basics of forest ecology, management, and safe chainsaw use, in addition to the basic cultivation techniques described above.

Little Farm of Paradise, Hampton NY: May 20 from 10am - 3pm
Shannon Brook Farm, Watkins Glen, NY: June 10 from 10am - 3pm

An established or new farmer looking for an exciting niche crop?

Join us for a two day intensive seminar at Understory Mushrooms, a 1 acre mushroom operation on a beautiful 35-acre farm in the Finger Lakes of New York. Camping is available as we learn basic inoculation techniques Saturday morning and delve into laying yard design, harvesting, and marketing Saturday afternoon and into Sunday. In addition to seeing our 1000 log operation, we'll visit our friend Steve Sierigk at Hawk Meadow Farm, who has been growing and selling shiitakes for the past 8 years. We'll also have a mushroom feast pond-side on Saturday evening.

Understory Mushroom Farm, Mecklenburg NY: May 5 & May 6

Interested in both cultivation and wild foraging of mushrooms?

Both of our Vermont classes feature a collaboration with Ari Rockland-Miller of the Mushroom Forager blog. In the morning we'll focus on cultivation and after lunch we'll head to the woods where Ari will discuss strategies for foraging, safe identification, and sustainable harvesting in the wild. Yum!

Shelburne Farms, Shelburne, VT: June 2 from 9:00am - 4:00pm
Twin Pond Retreat, Brookfield, VT: June 3 from 9:00am - 4:00pm 

Curious about the connections between mushrooms and permaculture?

Permaculture is a design system that focuses on the production of food, fibre, and energy while restoring degraded ecosystems. Mushrooms are but one part in this whole systems approach to gardening, farming, and forestry. These classses will be held at permaculture demonstration sites and highlight how mushrooms can integrate into the "big picture."

Brook's Bend Farm, Montague, MA: April 21 from 10:00am - 4:00pm
Three Sisters Farm, Sandy Lake, PA: May 12: May 12 from 10:00am - 4:00pm
Rochester Permaculture Center, Rochester, NY: May 13 from 10:00am - 4:00pm 

For more information on classes and to register, please visit our classes page at www.agroforestrysolutions.com or email steve@agroforestrysolutions.com if you have questions.


Shiitake Accumulates Vitamin D when Exposed to Sunlight

Shiitake mushrooms have been long valued in many cultures for their health benefits, but the exceptional nutrition not only comes with fruiting, but can be "value-added" as well. The most remarkable of these is the ability of shiitake to accumulate Vitamin D when exposed to UV rays, whether synthetic or natural.

One interesting study looked at the use of pulsed UV light to increase vitamin D content in button, crimini, oyster, and shiitake. The results of this study demonstrated that, "after a very short exposure time of about 1 sec (system generates 3 pulses per second) the Vitamin D2 content of these mushroom varieties can be increased from very little to upwards of 800% DV/serving."

Another study mentioned by Aloha Medicinals noted that even in drying shiitake in the sun (a less intense form of UV exposure) for at least 3 hours led to an increase of Vitamin D by up to 5 times the normal amount. This means that through simple exposure we can increase the already impressive pallate of health benefits offed by shiitake.

What's the big deal with Vitamin D? The vitamin is converted in the liver and kidneys and in its active form supports maintaining blood levels of phosphorus and calcium while also promoting bone mineralization and absorption of calcium. It is also linked to supporting a healthy immune system and regulation of cell differentiation and growth.

Deficiency in Vitamin D is linked to rickets in children and osteomalacia in adults. Those at risk for deficiency include infants who are exclusively breast fed, seniors, and people with limited sun exposure. Vitmin D deficiency is a very common occurrence among cancer patients

Understory Mushrooms offers dried mushrooms by the ounce and we are also able to accommodate customers who want dried shiitake mushrooms as an option in a CSA share. All of our dried mushrooms will spend at least 3 hours in the sun and are finished in a conventional dehydrator, which means they can be safely stored for months at a time. Mushrooms can be picked up at locations in Trumansburg and Ithaca, NY and also mailed to ANY location in the Northeastern USA.


How many mushroom logs do I need?


Enthusiastic new growers that attend mushroom inoculation classes often want to know how many logs they should be inoculating to get a reasonable yield. Their response is often met with the response familiar to many gardeners and farmers, "it depends." The trick is matching the quantity of logs with the goals for yield and the willingness to  invest time in proper management.

Before we look at the various scales of log-grown shiitake production and some ballpark estimates, its important to know a few basics about mushroom production.

First, logs are inoculated and fruiting can be expected the FOLLOWING season (i.e. if I inoculate logs this May, then the will begin fruiting NEXT May)

Second, if you want decent flushes of mushrooms you'll want to soak your logs by submerging them in cold water for 24 hours.

Third, after soaking a log, the mushrooms will flush 1/4 - 1/2 a pound per log, on average. Sometimes more.

And finally, logs need a rest period of 8 weeks after soaking.

In addition to knowing the process, its key to match your system to your goals. How much time do you want to spend harvesting, inoculating, and managing your logs? If you aren't trained in chainsaw safety, where will logs be acquired from? Are you able to check your logs daily, to harvest mushrooms at peak maturity?

Thus, the answer(s) to the question, "How many logs do I need...." can be answered in many ways:

Backyard system: 30 logs + an old bathtub
....to cook in one meal a week? = 8 logs

This means you soak one log each week and get 1/4 - 1/2 pounds with each flush. That's enough for a decent meal (or two). You could easily stash this number of logs under a porch or a single tree and soak in a trash can or even an old bathtub.

....to feed family & friends? = 32 logs

Soaking 4 logs a week should yield between 1 and 2 pounds per week, which is plenty for eating and dehydrating some for the off-season or to give as gifts. An old kiddie pool would suffice for soaking.

....to make a little side income? = 160 logs

If you soaked 20 logs a week, you could gross between $60 and $160/week. That's a yield of 5 - 10 pounds that you sell for $12/lb wholesale or $16/lb retail. We aren't talking about a huge investment of time here; a well managed system could be maintained in 5 hours or less per week.

....to make it a career? = 10,000 logs

Now we are getting serious! Soaking 1,250 logs a week would yield 300 - 600 lbs of mushrooms, which for $10/lb would gross $60,000 - $120,000 over a 20 week period, June through October. Expenses are considerable - at this scale mechanization and hired hands would be necessary. It's possible to make 40 - 60% of this gross as profit.

Understory Mushrooms is aiming to make its operation one part of a larger farm ecosystem, with our production likely to peak around 3,000 logs. Soaking 375 logs a week is probably about the maximum we can handle with human power.

Our farming plans for the future include other forest grown wood products, mixed rotational grazing of animals, and ongoing education on forest-based agriculture systems.

Learn more details of mushroom inoculation, not only for shiitake but also stropharia, oyster, and lions mane at one of several mushroom inoculation classes offered this spring and summer in New York, Vermont, Pennsylvania, and Massachusetts.

More information on the classes below can be accessed at www.agroforestrysolutions.com

CCE Steuben County, Bath, NY: March 24
SUNY Ulster County, Kingston, NY: April 28
CCE Hamilton County, Piseco, NY: May 19

Brook's Bend Farm, Montague, MA: April 21
Three Sisters Farm, Sandy Lake, PA: May 12
Rochester Permaculture Center, Rochester NY: May 13

Anderson Farm, Mecklenburg, NY: May 5th & 6th

Little Farm of Paradise, Hampton NY: May 20
Shannon Brook Farm, Watkins Glen, NY: June 10

Shelburne Farms, Shelburne, VT: June 2
Twin Pond Retreat, Brookfield, VT: June 3