Douglas Gayeton for Lexicon of Sustainability


Location: The Harvest Room, Hazel Dell Mushrooms, Fort Collins, CO

Featuring: Jim Hammond, Chad and Juan

Hardwood sawdust is steam sterilized to eliminate molds and bacteria. It is then injected with mycelium and placed in a sterile bag which keeps the mushrooms free of contamination. A shorter harvest room cycle minimizes the risk of infestation by mushroom flies. In fact, no pesticides or fungicides are used in the growing process. The result is an organic mushroom (the sawdust will become a fertile soil amendment for organic gardens).

Jim began making mushrooms in his garage over 31 years ago. He grows shiitake, oyster, lions mane, cinnamon cap, button, royal trumpet and portabella.

I ask Jim how mushrooms grow and he says, “The typical mushroom’s lifecycle begins when a mushroom spore germinates into mycelium. This white cottony root-like stage of the fungus grows on different tissues (sawdust, compost or tree roots for example) and absorbs nutrients from this medium. The fungus can live for years in this stage. Some environmental change happens (rain, fall, spring, summer, movement and humidity) and the mycelium produces a mushroom. This fruiting body produces microscopic spores which ultimately repeat this process."

Mushrooms thrive in highly humid environments with lots of fresh air (55-75DegF).

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