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Forest Farming for Fun and Profit: Growing Mushrooms

SULTAN, Wash. – Whether your forest is a backyard with just a few trees or hundreds of acres, growing gourmet and medicinal mushrooms can be a satisfying and profitable venture. In the Pacific Northwest there are about a dozen commercially viable species including oyster, shiitake, and maiitake that can be grown using many of our native trees. However, ensuring success with this type of forest farming involves developing a good understanding of the process and knowledge of the techniques involved.

Shiitake mushrooms
Shiitake mushrooms. Click image for a larger version.

Washington State University Snohomish County Extension is sponsoring a workshop on the topic on Saturday, April 11, from 10 a.m. until 2:30 p.m. at Ed’s Apples in Sultan. The class will cover the different types of edible mushrooms that can be grown in our area and how you can start your own “fungi farm.”

Ed’s Apples is located at 13420 339th Ave. SE, off State Route 2 in Sultan.

Outdoor log-cultivated mushrooms are generally considered to be of higher quality and worth more than those grown indoors on artificial substrates. Studies show that outdoor log-grown shiitakes are nearly twice as high in health-promoting polysaccharides as those grown indoors. In addition, capital investment is much less for outdoor fungi operations than for indoor production, which requires investment in a climate-controlled building. Forest stand improvements that involve tree thinning often generate wood not suitable for timber but that are perfect for culturing a variety of edible and medicinal fungi.

The topics covered will include the different species that grow well in our climate and forests along with a discussion of several growing media such as log, stump, and sawdust culture. Demonstrations will include how to prepare and inoculate logs as well as harvest techniques and care procedures to encourage optimum production. An introduction to fungi marketing will also be covered. All participants will take home plugs of a couple different species along with complete instructions to cultivate your own mushroom logs.

Instructors for the workshop are WSU Extension Forester Jim Freed and Julia Coffey from Fungi Perfecti, an Olympia-based company that specializes in supplying home and commercial mushroom growers with everything needed for success. Coffey has taught fungi growing techniques to a wide audience and is well versed in growing mushrooms on her own forestlands.

The cost for the workshop is $60 per person and includes a box lunch. Space is limited and pre-registration is required. To register, download the registration form at www.snohomish.wsu.edu/ag/workshops/09mushroom.pdf and mail it with your check, or contact Karie Christensen at 425/338-2400, e-mail klchristen@wsu.edu.

For more information on the course, contact Drew Corbin, corbina@wsu.edu or 425/357-6012.

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Media Contacts

Jim Freed, WSU Extension Forest Stewardship Educator,