Mushroom workshoppers inoculating shiitake logs in 2011
Over the last 7 years, we’ve always tried to do one or two mushroom workshops per year, and it’s definitely one of the most fun and interactive classes ones we do. More than 300 people have participated in that time, and many of those logs have produced beautifully and abundantly. Some have continued to drill & propagate the spores after the workshop, but for everyone there is a new connection to be made with this amazing force of life, mycelium. There is nothing quite like the experience of a fruiting shiitake log after a Spring rain or September temperature drop, from the shady corner or damp back porch you never use—truly it appears to be something out of nothing.
Fungi are the humble and often under-appreciated fourth kingdom of Life, but they will be given their due this Saturday as we co-host our 10th mushroom growing workshop with Duke Mycology in Durham. Mushrooms are the delicious fruiting body (12%-18% protein by dry weight) that we know and love, but there are no kings in this kingdom, likely a big reason why they’ve survived two mass extinctions. They are potentially a cornerstone of homegrown nutrition and vitality, and a simple way for us to engage more fully with the natural world.
Dr. Khalid Hameed will be demonstrating how to grow Oyster mushrooms, bionic biological superheroes of the fungal realm. Oysters are saprotrophic, meaning they function to break matter down into its composites–usually woody debris. In the garden, they are incomparable decomposers and creators of organic matter and soil nutrients. But they can also break down dense, highly complex chemical chains…like petroleum! Oyster mushrooms have been used to help clean up oil spills, the ones used in this San Francisco operation were tested and left no trace of oil in their mushrooms. Our fellow beings of the Fourth Kingdom may ultimately provide more answers than anything Technology proposes for beginning to heal the incredible damage humans do (some more than others), and have been doing on a daily basis for centuries. Another reason, perhaps the most important one, to come out and learn more about them this Saturday!