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Forest Farming for Fun and Profit

Whether your forest is a backyard with 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.

Washington State University Snohomish County is offering a workshop on Saturday, Jan. 24, from 10 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. at Ed’s Apples in Sultan to learn about 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. S.E. just off SR 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 fungi.

Topics covered will include the different species that grow well in our climate and woods 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 mushroom species and complete instructions for cultivating your own mushroom logs.

Workshop instructors will be WSU Extension Forester Jim Freed and Julia Coffey from Fungi Perfecti, an Olympia-based company specializing in supplies for home and commercial mushroom growers. Coffey has taught fungi growing techniques to a wide variety of audiences and is well versed in growing mushrooms on her own forestlands.

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

Contact Kate Halstead for more information at khalstead@wsu.edu or at 425/357-6024.

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Media Contacts

Jim Freed, WSU Natural Resources Extension Professor, 360-902-1314