Indiana Small Farm Conference

WOW, today was jam packed full of information, new people, organic farming practices, and amazing locally grown food. I hope DePauw events are catered by The Juniper Spoon sometime in the future if Bon Appetit is unavailable! The food was phenomenal and is 60% local to the central Indiana area and is 100% organic. Check them out: The Juniper Spoon

To read more about the specific sessions offered at the 2017 conference, click here.

The first session I attended, INDOOR AND OUTDOOR MUSHROOM CULTIVATION, opened so many new doors into the realm of mushroom cultivation at the DePauw Campus Farm. I will also be posting updates on how the shiitake mushroom log gifted to me turns out.  Candice Turner from Earth Candy Acres, who specializes in outdoor mushroom cultivation taught me so much about how to properly go about cultivating mushrooms on a small scale farm that is manageable.

  1. using alive sapwood, so harvesting logs from trees around late fall, early winter, especially from felled trees form storms or natural causes are needed.
  2. with each log cut to be about 30 inches long, start by drilling 12 mm deep holes into the wood in a diamond shaped pattern on the bark sides.
  3. using sawdust spawn, especially for shiitake mushrooms since they are the easiest to cultivate for beginners (more economic, less contaminated, and greater yield, typically), inoculate each hole.
  4. cover each inoculated hole with cheese wax (edible, non-toxic) to preserve the spores and ensure they spawn inside the log; this step also prevents further contamination from insects, bugs, and competing spores and bacteria.
  5. water and shade are key! keeping the logs a consistent 35-50% moisture content and around 80% shade will ensure the best yield of mushrooms and preserve the wood for the longest duration of usage on a 3 to 10 year lifespan.
  6. don’t set the logs on the bare ground, since this is an invitation for slugs, ants, etc. to find ways into your log to eat your spores. non-toxic pest removals like sprinkling salt also help keep pests out of your mushroom log.
  7. soon, very soon with force fruiting, mushrooms will pin; when they are fully grown, cut at the base–do not pull the mushrooms off!

It is so incredibly easy as well to grow organically certified, by FDA/USDA standards, shiitake mushrooms. As long as you do not water the mushrooms after harvesting or packaging them up in anything other than small holding containers–they are totally organic!

The health and medicinal value alone of mushrooms make the amazing, not to mention how yummy they are and the vast varieties that are easy to cultivate.

Mushrooms are also an excellent and natural tool in bioremediation, especially near cattle farms. Mushrooms filter heavy toxins out of water supplies, along with things like bacteria such as E. coli. Reducing the levels of water contamination from the hands of industrial cattle farms is as easy as spreading mycelium in drainage ditches near these farms! Mushrooms are, however, very good bioaccumulators, meaning mushrooms near toxic mining plants who leach chemicals into the surrounding soil should not be used for consumption. Mushrooms absorb whatever is in the organic matter surrounding them, meaning the studies done on mushrooms and what they bioaccumulate in certain areas can also be very beneficial when studying environmental hazards and contaminants.

Here are some benefits of growing on logs versus commonplace sawdust blocks (though both are totally viable practices & the sawdust blocks after the nutrients have depleted make great compost!): Logs vs. Sawdust

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