Diversifying is Fun!

In Magoffin County, our GA family has learned that diversifying is fun! Tomatoes, potatoes, peppers, and onions are great, of course, but there’s something special about learning to grow something new.
In February, the Extension Service featured special guest, Bill Gordon, Environmental Educator from the High Adventure Wilderness School in Stanton, KY. The program was well-attended and all of our GA families decided to stay to expand theirShiitake Class 1 knowledge of a new crop. “Wild Bill” presented an excellent program on adding shiitake mushrooms to a home production system and marketing the mushrooms at a Farmers’ Market.
Shiitakes have been grown and eaten in Japan and other Asian countries for centuries, but are just recently beginning to gain popularity in the United States, and growing them for local markets is a great option for East Kentucky farmers.
Farmers in our area have easy access to small diameter hardwood logs, which enables them to enter the shiitake market in several different ways:
1.) Cutting trees into logs and selling logs (4-8″ in diameter and 36-40″ in length) to shiitake growers who do not have access to hardwoods.
2.) Cutting and selling inoculated logs to individuals who want to grow their own backyard mushrooms.
3.) Cutting, inoculating, growing, and harvesting their own mushrooms for personal use and for market.
Shiitake Class 3Though it sounds easy enough, shiitake production requires a plan, as does most any farming enterprise. UK publication ID-FOR78 identifies six steps that are crucial for shiitake success:
1.) Log selection and preparation
2.) Inoculation
3.) Incubation
4.) Fruiting (actual mushroom production)
5.) Harvesting
6.) Marketing
We learned about each of these steps in our program.
After the classroom-style discussion, program participants were allowed to inoculate their own logs to take home and watch them transform from white oak log to gourmet fruit-bearing rotting log.
Each participant thoroughly enjoyed the program and they were genuinely excited to have the opportunity to produce their own mushrooms. Shortly after the workshop, three of our GA families embarked on their own shiitake Shiitake Class 2journey–cutting logs, purchasing spawn, and inoculating Shiitake Class 4their own logs (one GA participant inoculated 20 of his own logs!) in hopes of a fruitful harvest in 2018!

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