Although it seems that mushrooms can be a pretty polarizing food (you either love them or hate them!), Seven Valleys Health Coalition is thrilled to introduce some local food wonders grown by Jared Popoli and Emily Shepard. Keep scrolling down for the full story on Minglewood Mushrooms!
SVHC: How long have you been growing your lovely mushrooms in Cortland County?
MM: We have been growing our log-grown shiitake mushrooms since 2012. We started just for our own personal consumption, then friends also wanted mushrooms, and here we are now.
SVHC: Growing mushrooms seems like an interesting and detailed lifestyle to engage, what keeps you and Emily producing locally?
MM: When I first started, I really had no interest in becoming a farmer. I started my 25 logs as more of a science experiment, but it has organically grown to around 700 logs. Because the operation is completely outside, our production varies with the weather. Some rainy weeks, logs that we weren’t planning on fruiting can. Or vice versa, thankfully our outlets understand that some weeks there just won’t be any mushrooms. This endeavor has grown into a fun hobby for us and it’s a great reason to go into the woods daily.
SVHC: What types of mushrooms do you grow?
MM: We primarily grow outdoor log-grown shiitake mushrooms. We have grown some oyster and lions mane mushrooms but they are not as dependable. It takes a year or so for our mushrooms to start producing from when the oak logs are inoculated. Our mushrooms are sold directly to customers, restaurants and local food stores.
SVHC: What has been your biggest joy as a local grower?
MM: What we enjoy most has been the support of our community. Without their support, and even help on the farm, there’s no way we would be where we are today.
SVHC: What has been your greatest challenge as a local mushroom grower?
MM: Our biggest challenge has been Mother Nature, we are constantly covering and then uncovering the logs, letting the wood get wet but not too wet. This comes with the territory, but it can take a lot of time and effort to ensure the mushrooms produced are the best they can be.
SVHC: If you could tell your community one thing, what would it be?
MM: Some people think mushrooms aren’t palatable and taste like feet, but I’ve heard many our mushrooms taste less like feet and more like meat. Log-grown shiitake have a much richer flavor than sawdust (indoor) grown.
SVHC: How can the community purchase your mushrooms or connect with you?
MM: If you’d like to give our mushrooms a try you can contact us on Facebook or they can be purchased from the Local Food Market in Cortland as well.