Collar City Mushrooms. Collar. City. Mushrooms. Every time I type Collar City Mushrooms I smile. I really can’t believe we are doing this. What was a fun “imagine if” scenario is actually taking shape. Talk about dreams coming true.
Growing up in the Helderberg Mountains, the forest was my home; my home, my playground, my church. With nothing but trees surrounding me, loamy soil between my toes, and the mountain air filling my lungs I would roam for hours. The colors of the forest are soothing to me: the browns, the greens, the greys, and occasionally, the bright pop of a vividly colored mushroom. I was awed by these little life forms peeking out from leaf debris or perched securely on the side of a tree. At that time, I had no idea how deeply ingrained the mycelial web would become in my life.
Walking the various paths of adulthood I never lost my fascination with fungi. Any and every sighting would elicit an excited squeal and an avid investigation, if possible. Encountering Amy and growing a relationship with her was a major step towards becoming the Primary Pleurotus of Collar City Mushrooms. A kindred spirit in so many ways, when we discovered our mutual adoration of the fungi kingdom the synapses really started firing. Amy’s paths had taken her to starting a small hobby scale outdoor shiitake growing operation near where I had grown up, on land owned by people with whom I was familiar.
Our fungal experiences started blossoming when we fostered our relationship with Ed. Ed had been fungally active for years, through both working with cultivators as well as foraging in the wild. It was during one such auspicious foraging expedition that Amy and I developed the confidence boost we needed in identifying and collecting specimens for consumption. Dreams of mushroom hunting and educating novices about foraging percolated for years. After harvesting a huge ripe bear’s tooth and cooking some vegan “crab” cakes, we shared our bounty with one of our housemates: Ian. Little did we know that Ian’s own history was replete with mushroom mania. Serving him a sample cake inspired him to delve back into the fantastic world of fungi and he began collecting spore samples and cultivating oysters from a commercially available kit.
Enter the Covid-19 Quarantine. I was furloughed from my job managing a performing arts center. This opportunity provided me with the time I needed to focus on making a semi percolated dream into a concrete reality. Drawing on the accumulated library of books on cultivating and identifying mushrooms we began brainstorming what an urban indoor mushroom farm would require. Pulling our imagined web out of the field of possibilities and connecting it with the mycelial groundwork already growing around us we set to work. Activating the right people was easy. We already had the fruits of knowledge, ability, and dedication ready for harvest. The only pillar lacking so far is location. Our hunt is on full steam and we hope to settle in a building within a month. We already have a variety of grain jars myceliating with several different mushrooms. As soon as we can get boots on the ground in a brick and mortar we will explode with productivity. This has been an exciting adventure so far, and it will only progress to greater heights from here. Thank you for joining us in our journey! We can’t wait to enjoy some tasty local fresh mushrooms with you!