The Highlands Biological Station held a seminar in early April on how to grow your own shitake mushrooms. The course was taught by Sarah Workman, associate director of the station and began with some classroom instruction before participants got some hands-on experience.
Workman, who described herself as a “lifelong mushroom enthusiast,” spoke to the group about some mushroom basics, choosing what trees to create the platform for mushroom growth, cutting the proper log size, drilling holes for inoculation, how to safely harvest and store the mushrooms, and a variety of ways to enjoy mushrooms that you have grown.
“Mushrooms have a bad rap,” said Workman. “A lot of people are scared to eat them because some are good and some are bad.”
After the classroom session, participants were able to head outside to create their own mushroom logs, which included drilling and inoculating the drilled holes for the mushrooms to grow in.
Dale Gordon just moved to Highlands with her mother and they were looking to create their own garden.
“We wanted to do a garden and then we saw this was happening and thought, let’s do that,” said Gordon. “We both like mushrooms and it’s been really great. It’s informative and I love the hands-on approach. It takes the intimidation out of being first-time growers.”
She added that she would definitely recommend a course like this to a friend.
Highlands resident Colette Clark said she took the class because it piqued her curiosity.
“I live in the woods and see mushrooms all of the time and thought this would be a good place to start,” said Clark. “I think it was very informative and the handouts are a great resource. I don’t know if I’m going to go further with this but it was fun. I love hearing a factoid or two.”
Vanessa Steele, Highlands resident, agreed with the others that the program was beneficial.
“I’m interested in mushrooms and I have a lot of them growing in my yard and I want to be able to identify them,” she said. “This class was very informative, especially for a beginner.”
Workman stressed that people should never eat mushrooms growing in the wild they cannot identify.
“The more people learn about parts of nature the more they can conserve,” said Workman.
For more information on upcoming programs at the biological station, visit http://www.highlandsbiological.org.
By Brian O’Shea