Twenty-five participants came from all over Arkansas, Oklahoma, Missouri, and Illinois to attend the Growing Edible Mushrooms workshop on Tuesday, April 2, in Fayetteville, Arkansas. NCAT’s Southeast Office partnered with Phillip Owens of the USDA ARS Dale Bumpers Small Farm Research Center and Gregory Ormsby Mori of the University of Missouri Center for Agroforestry to hold this one-day workshop. Gregory taught the classroom sessions and led the hands-on activities. The generous folks at the USDA ARS provided the logs, wood chips, and straw necessary for the hands-on demonstrations. NCAT’s Nina Prater handled the workshop planning logistics such as finding a location, arranging lunch, registration, evaluations, and publicizing the event.
Focus on Fungi-mentals
NCAT Southeast Regional Office Director Margo Hale and Nina started the workshop off with an introduction to NCAT and NCAT’s ATTRA Sustainable Agriculture Program. Next, Gregory dug into the good stuff: an introduction to the life cycle of mushrooms and basic mushroom biology. He talked about growing shiitakes on logs, growing wine cap stropharia on straw and wood chips, and growing oyster mushrooms on logs in a totem style.
After the classroom sessions, the group headed outside to get some hands-on experience inoculating shiitake logs. Gregory also demonstrated how to do winecap inoculation and oyster mushroom inoculation. Participants practiced all aspects of shiitake log inoculation: drilling holes in the logs, inoculating the holes with shiitake spawn in sawdust, sealing the holes with hot wax, and labeling each log with the date of inoculation and the strain of shiitake.
To close out the workshop, the group headed back to the classroom to hear Gregory’s brief overview of mushroom production’s business side. Participants asked lots of great questions. When the workshop was over they all got to take an inoculated shiitake log home.
It was a fantastic day filled with practical information and real, slightly dirty, hands-on learning. Our partners from the USDA ARS were incredibly helpful, and we really appreciated their hard work supplying the logs! Gregory was a great instructor, and it was a very empowering workshop that demystified mushroom cultivation. He made sure to emphasize that there are many different ways to do it, and you have to choose what is right for you and your operation. He also made sure to say that if you were thinking about doing this commercially, start small and grow into it.
The University of Missouri Center for Agroforestry’s website has great resources on growing edible mushrooms and other agroforestry practices. You can also follow their Facebook page for information and announcements of upcoming events.
Check out ATTRA Sustainable Agriculture’s website for additional resources on mushroom cultivation and other agroforestry topics. For fungi-focused podcast episodes, listen to Introduction to Mycology and From Christmas Trees to Mushrooms.
As always, NCAT’s ATTRA agriculture specialists are available for free, one-on-one technical assistance! Feel free to call our helpline at 1-800-346-9140 or email email@example.com.