our growing process
Mushrooms are fundamental to the health of our planet and our own well-being. These impressive fungi are irreplaceable when it comes to decomposition and play an important role in nature’s life cycle. Fungi, in general, are made up of interconnected fibers called hyphae that together form a mass known as mycelium that uses all kinds of matter as a food base to ultimately produce its fruit, the mushroom. Most of the mushrooms familiar to us reproduce via spores that are dispersed at great distances to then germinate into hypha, thus continuing the cycle.
Terrafunga cultivates mushrooms on logs outdoors in much the same way that they grow naturally, by introducing spawn into matter that will eventually grow into mycelium. This form of sustainable agriculture, allows mushrooms to develop the rich and earthy flavor food aficionados are so fond of. As in nature, the process takes time before the mycelium develops inside each log and subsequently produces its “fruit”. Like any crop, the environment plays a major role in the growing process as do weather conditions, moisture content and temperature fluctuations.
Late fall and early winter, our logs are delivered to the farm directly from our Vermont supplier. The long timber is later cut into shorter lengths and sorted by species for spring inoculation. Organic spawn and other inoculating material are also ordered at this time so that when the forsythia begins to bloom, we are ready to plug logs and fill our laying yard.
During the inoculation process, cut logs are placed on a table and multiple holes are drilled into them by our team. Each hole is then filled with a spawn plug (cultured fungus in saw dust) then sealed with melted organic wax to prevent microorganism infestation. Any blemishes on the bark and the ends of the logs are also sealed for added protection. Each log is then tagged and dated with the name of the tree species and mushroom variety for future identification.
Once inoculated, logs are stacked strategically in our laying yard (some in natural shade under mature trees, others under fiber cloths) and watered regularly to support mycelium growth. Depending on the width of the logs, type of wood, mushroom varieties, and environmental conditions, mycelium can take up to 2 years to produce mushrooms.
Mushrooms are harvested once or twice a year (more often if logs are forced), kept refrigerated on site the day of harvest and sold the next day to restaurant chefs, specialty food stores and to consumers at farmer’s markets. To minimize waste, some fresh mushrooms are also dehydrated naturally by air and packaged for sale on our website along with our wild mushroom varieties. Dried mushrooms have a long shelf life (up to 18 months at room temperature or frozen) which make them ideal for internet sales.
True to our mission statement, we continue to strive to minimize our stress on the environment and use as many natural processes as possible. Our timber is cut into 4-6 foot lengths with chainsaws that operate on biodegradable vegetable oil, our spawn is certified organic, the irrigation system functions primarily using gravity fed water and our crew lives predominantly off the grid. Lastly, our farm and growing processes are free of synthetic fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides, hormones and chemicals. We are committed to producing a wholesome, natural product grown naturally in the mountains of Vermont for all to enjoy.