One of the key activities that keeps us productive in the winter is our Certified Organic, log-grown mushroom enterprise. We currently produce 5 different strains of shiitake, maitake, oyster, and winecap mushrooms on approximately 400 logs. This year we hope to double our production by inoculating an additional 450. Logs are harvested in the winter while the ground is frozen, which makes it easier for us to move our equipment around fields without compacting the soil and damaging the roots of trees. This year we harvested most of our logs from Coles Nursery – a local family farm that grows ornamental trees for the wholesale market. When their trees grow too big to dig, they must be removed to make room for new trees. That’s where we come in, focusing on hardwoods like red oak, white oak, pin oak, ash, beech and maple. We select trees between 4 and 6 inches in diameter and cut the trunks into 4-foot lengths otherwise known as bolts. The remainder of the tree is fed through the chipper and spread onto the ground to return the carbon back to the soil.
Once logs are harvested, a lattice-work of holes are drilled to a precise size and depth. These holes are then packed with spawn – hardwood sawdust that has been inoculated with the spores of a specific strain of mushroom. Food-grade wax is used to seal the hole to keep the moist spawn from drying out and to prevent insects and birds from eating the spawn. This year, we are inoculating shiitake and lion’s mane into red oak and pin oak logs that will soon be stacked in the shade and kept moist for the duration of the growing season. During this period of colonization, the mycelium of the mushroom spreads throughout the entire log like the way a plant’s roots fill up the soil in a pot. The part of the mushroom that we typically eat is the fruiting body. In the fall, when the temperature and humidity are just right, the logs will begin to fruit on their own in an attempt to reproduce through a process call sporulation. This is akin to the process by which plants flower and set seed only in this case the mushroom is sending out spores that are light enough to float in the air.
The following season the logs begin to produce to their full potential. Mushroom farmers have the option of force-fruiting or soaking them in a tank of fresh water for 12-24 hours to trick them into fruiting. This allows the farmer to better control when and how much the logs will fruit to ensure a relatively steady and consistent supply for markets. A log can fruit for as many years as there are inches in the diameter of the log (4 inches = 4 years). At the end of this period, the log can be chipped and used a medium to grow a different strain of mushrooms. For example, winecap and oyster can be grown in chips made from shiitake logs. Once these chips no longer fruit they can be composted and used as a soil amendment. Along with composting and biochar production, growing mushrooms allows us to convert the woody debris generated on and around our farm into a premium product while conserving carbon, nutrients, minerals, and water in our soil.
On Tuesday, January 30, 2018, we will be working on inoculating logs with mushroom spawn and could use a few extra hands. Please join us at the farm, 6127 Mechanicsville Road, Mechanicsville PA 18934 from 9am-11am.
Please wear comfortable clothes and appropriate footwear. Be prepared to get a little dirty! We provide tools, gloves, and beverages. Please Note: Minors 15 and younger must be accompanied by an adult at all times.
This spring we are looking forward to a whole new army of apprentices. Apprentices have the opportunity to focus on different enterprises on the farm: veggies, field cropping, livestock and dairy/cheese making. For more details and to apply, see the careers section of our website.
In a large Dutch oven or saucepan, bring the stock to a simmer over medium heat. Stir in the soy sauce, vinegar, and oyster sauce. Add the mushrooms, reduce the heat to low, and simmer for 4-5 minutes. This will infuse the mushroom flavor into the broth.
Add the ramen noodles and turn the heat up to medium. Cook until the noodles are al dente, stirring periodically, approximately 4 minutes (or according to package instructions). Stir in the sesame oil and scallions. Add salt to taste, if desired.
Add toppings of your choice, such as bean sprouts, soft boiled eggs or nori.
A quick change in the temperature doesn’t mean Spring is right around the corner, hoodies are still a must! What better way to stay warm then in a CFF sweatshirt. Sizes range from Small to X-Large. Sweatshirts are $35.00 and we accept cash, check, or credit card. Merchandise can be purchased directly from the farm by contacting Stephanie at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Remember, 100% of the proceeds go to feed the needy in our own backyards.
By partnering with several Bucks County food pantries, Broad Street Ministry, Coalition Against Hunger, Cathedral Kitchen and Face to Face Germantown, people throughout the Philadelphia area are benefiting from our nutritious harvest.