• Updated Website Address: LocalBanquet.org
  • Looking Back on a Decade of Maple Innovation
  • Listening to Farmers’ Voices in the Ecosystem Services Discussion
  • Updated Website Address: LocalBanquet.org

    We've changed our website. Please update your bookmarks to LocalBanquet.org LocalBanquet.org is where you will now find the latest Local Banquet stories, a new Story of the Day update feature, features from the archives, and information on how to contribute to Local Banquet if you're interested in writing about Vermont agriculture. 

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  • Looking Back on a Decade of Maple Innovation

    Back in 2007, Local Baquet ran an article by Bonnie Hudspeth on maple innovation and production in Vermont. Since then, maple production in Vermont has tripled to 1.8 million gallons a year and innovation seems to have entered a new golden (or perhaps amber) age. We did a quick maple innovation news round up for 2018 / 2019 to help everyone keep up with the some of the trends. 

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  • Listening to Farmers’ Voices in the Ecosystem Services Discussion

    In 2015, the USDA funded a project for UVM researchers to engage in discussions with Vermont farmers about the idea of being paid for ecosystem services. Ecosystem services are things farmers do that improve the environment for everyone, a common example is grass-based farms capturing carbon in the soil as a way to combat climate change. Some services happen naturally through sustainable farming, others take more of an incentive to implement, and either way some policy makers believe that farmers shoudl be compensated for their contribution. 

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Farmers' Kitchen—Magnificent Mushrooms

Jimmy Horton and Heather Ewing
Jimmy Horton and Heather Ewing

Written By

Jimmy Horton

Written on

August 17 , 2016

Many of us are brought up to fear mushrooms. Often to the point of never thinking of them as the wonderful, delicious, and nutritious food they are. Many people I talk to are surprised to find out that they can eat more than just the common button mushrooms that are found in almost all grocery stores. But who can blame them? Those mushrooms are often the only choice! But the fact is, there are hundreds of choice edible mushrooms out there.

Here at Champlain Valley Mushrooms we love fungus! My partner, Heather Ewing, and I started cultivating mushrooms about four years ago and have been growing our knowledge and our farm ever since. Currently we’re producing oyster, shiitake, lion’s mane, and wine cap mushrooms. Each one of these mushrooms is unique and requires its own method of cultivation.

It’s amazing what can be used to grow oyster mushrooms. Coffee grounds, wood pellets (sawdust), straw, and even toilet paper are just a few mediums that offer enough nutrition for the wonderful oyster mushrooms to thrive. We grow our oyster mushrooms on pasteurized wheat straw mixed with mushroom spawn (seed) that is packed into plastic sleeves. Holes are then poked in the bags where the mushrooms will grow. From start to finish, the mushrooms will grow in a month’s time into big, beautiful mushroom bouquets.

Shiitakes, on the other hand, have a much pickier diet, preferring freshly cut hardwood logs. To start, we cut down dormant trees in the winter before the sap starts running. When the weather warms up a bit, we begin inoculating the logs. This includes drilling holes, filling them with spawn, and sealing the holes with wax. We then wait an entire year for the logs to be ready to produce shiitake mushrooms. Although this is our preferred method of cultivation, shiitakes will also grow on hardwood sawdust. Personally, I believe the shiitakes grown from a hardwood log are superior to a sawdust-grown shiitake in flavor and beauty.

Learning about mushrooms and fungus has been a great experience. They are everywhere we are, in one form or another. With each breath, we inhale spores so small they can only be seen under a microscope. Under the earth’s surface we walk on mycelium (mushroom roots), which grow in all directions undetected. It is easy to forget how intricate and interconnected our planet truly is. Living day to day, I feel fortunate to have a job that always keeps me thinking, learning, and experiencing life close to the roots (or to the mycelium...) of our humble planet. And honestly, I just really enjoy eating the mushrooms of my labor!

Champlain Valley Mushrooms is located in Orwell. You can find our mushrooms on Saturdays at the Rutland Farmers’ Market, Sundays at the Dorset Farmers’ Market, and at Middlebury Natural Foods Co-op. Check us out on Facebook–
facebook.com/cvmushrooms.

About the Author

Jimmy Horton

Jimmy Horton

Jimmy Horton and Heather Ewing run Champlain Valley Mushrooms located in Orwell. You can find their mushrooms on Saturdays at the Rutland Farmers’ Market, Sundays at the Dorset Farmers’ Market, and at Middlebury Natural Foods Co-op.

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