October 10, 2014
“Not enthusiastic about cutting down trees, Gold realized there were more hardwood logs than they could use to heat their house…”
Recently I was reminded of this article I am about to share with you. At the Goldstream Station Market in Langford, BC, which is one of my public tea leaf reading and tarot venues, I shared a space one Saturday with two young people. They are selling mushrooms they gleaned on a trip to the Yukon. According to them, areas where there have been recent forest fires are fertile ground for bumper mushroom crops.
Mushroom picking always reminds me of once eating halucinogenic magic mushrooms given to my boyfriend and I in the back of a van by hippies who picked us up when we were hitchiking near Disneyland in California back in the 1970s. They did not give me so much as a buzz so I have never tried them again.
It also reminds me of my mother talking about how her mother, my Ukrainian baba, knew where to look in the woods for edible mushrooms. If you did not know what to look for, my mother warned, they could be poisonous. My baba made the best mushroom gravy.
There is something about mushrooms that also conjure up stories of fairies and elves in the woods.
Really, mushrooms stand on their own as a food source. Here is an article about farming them:
Gulf Island Driftwood
April 18, 2007
Temperate rainforest climate ideal for edible mushrooms
by Tanya Lester
Adam Gold is injecting a new crop into the Salt Spring agricultural industry.
Yet three years ago when Gold, with his investor family members and friends, bought a 35-acre mid-island property, he didn’t know he would be developing a mushroom farm there.
Things were set in motion when Gold began falling trees in order to make space to grow a large organix garden — one that now sustains him and his partner Rebecca year round.
Not enthusiastic about cutting down trees, Gold realized there were more hardwood logs than they could use to heat their house. At the same time, he started to investigate what crop he could produce to create his niches in the island’s locally produced food market.
He discovered that Salt Spring Island’s temperate rainforest climate, which spans more than three quarters of each year, is ideal for growing mushrooms. The edible fungus grows on logs.
This spring Gold will be selling his mushrooms at the Saturday market for the first time. The 25-year-old produces mushroom culture in a sterile environment because the mushrooms cannot grow in competition with any other fungus. He injects it into holes in piles of stacked hardwood logs. The logs are soaked in a dunk tank for 12 hours. Then, Gold hits the logs with a hammer to “shock” the mushroom culture into growing.
He grows the mushrooms as naturally as possible.
“Nature is perfect, so I mimic natural processes,” he said.
The “flowers” are harvested from each log and provide, what he calls, “strong youthful energy of raw foods.”
Mushrooms have many nutritional values, including a source of Vitamin D and protein as well as medicinal qualities that can boost the immune system and fight cancer, Gold said.
The Peterborough native’s passion for producing food began when he went to Israel at 17 years old. He stayed a year and a half on an 80-member kibbutz. Much of his time was spent at the top of date palms where he pruned the trees and harvested the fruit.
After his Middle Eastern experience, Gold lived three years in the Santa Cruz, California area producing vegetables for the local markets.
It was there that he began “living with the seasons and eating with the seasons.” He also appreciated how grateful his customers were to be provided with healthy food.
To learn how to grow mushrooms here, Gold took an intensive, week-long course in Olympia, Washington with Paul Stamets, the author of Mycelium Running: How Mushrooms Can Help Save the World.
Stamets is an information source on how mushrooms decompose waster and turn it into food, feed plants and animals, and detoxify chemicals.
On Salt Spring, Gold’s sprouts (including sunflower, radish and bean) sell out early at the Saturday market. The same outcome can be anticipated for the Japanese exotic mushrooms now offered next to his other produce. They will also be available at the Tuesday market and Salt Spring Natureworks.
Gold is also looking for on-island restaurant outlets to use his mushrooms in their menu offerings.
In the summer, people live on Gold’s farm in teepees and do work trades in exchange for fresh organic food. There is still a vacant space in the community for on woman. The property is also a beautiful site for the variety of Red Cross first aid courses that Gold teaches. His lifestyle is now a long way from the environmental policy university graduate who once planned to be an environmental lawyer.
On his mushroom farm, this young man has found his passion.
To read the first posts on this blog, please go to http://www.writingsmall.wordpress.com
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Confessions of a Tea Leaf Reader by Tanya Lester can be purchased from the author or by going to the title and author name– to read the first pages and to buy it — at amazon.com
Tanya Lester’s other books are Friends I Never Knew, Dreams & Tricksters and Women Rights/Writes. They are available in some library systems and in places such as the Legislative Library of Manitoba.