Local mushroom businesses growing like magic

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Add mushrooms to the list of locally grown food and beverages that are now available – and sought after – in Minnesota.

The Pioneer Press has a story on how the local business that produces the weird fungi is "suddenly booming in the Twin Cities," with two different mushroom farmers looking to finance expansion of their respective operations through Kickstarter.

Cherry Tree House Mushrooms produce shiitake, oyster and nameko varieties and sell them at farmers' markets and to local restaurants and co-ops. Owner Jeremy McAdams, who had raised shiitakes on logs in his Minneapolis back yard, start farming full time when he was laid off in 2009. McAdams, who now rents space on a Ham Lake farm, reached his goal of raising $20,000 in Kickstarter funds to build a hoophouse to store mushroom logs in advance of the campaign's April 30 deadline. The campaign notes that Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges was among those who made a donation.

Mississippi Mushrooms, meanwhile, are grown indoors in a Northeast Minneapolis warehouse, using sterile, humid growing rooms, where the Lion's Mane and king oyster varieties grow in plastic bags filled with spent grain from local breweries and sawdust from a woodworker. Founder Ian Silver-Ramp can grow exotic mushrooms year-round. His Kickstarter seeks $22,500, mostly to be used for a high-pressure steam boiler to sterilize growing material. Silver-Ramp wants to expand to produce varieties including snow fungus, bamboo mushrooms, corn smut and heirloom portabellos. TheMinnesotaLocavore blog has the back story on the company and the Kickstarter campaign.

For mushroom-lovers who want to take matters into their own hands, the Star Tribune published a story earlier this month in the Outdoors section about mushroom-hunting and the art of finding morels, the state's official mushroom. The story said that a good time to find morels is a day or two after a spring rainfall when the temperature reaches into the 70s. In central Minnesota, the rich, earthy-tasting mushrooms grow in aspen and ash lowlands, particularly near cleared areas. In southeastern Minnesota, veteran morel-hunters say the mushrooms “pop” beneath dead elm trees.

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