Wholly Shiitake Mushrooms

Well, looks like it’s not just Italian Oysters that are being grown by NTFP students. This weekend, our class had the extreme pleasure of visiting local shiitake mushroom expert, Steve Sierigk.

He welcomed us to his beautiful home with open arms, and taught us how to inoculate logs with shiitake mushroom spawn. We all took turns with the power drill (woot, power tools), the spawn inoculators, and the hot wax to seal the moisture in. We inoculated over 20 logs! Look below to see what this process looks like:
Each hole that was drilled was filled with shiitake spawn mixed with sawdust. These holes were covered with hot wax.
Steve was very informative and enthusiastic about his work. Although the weather was quite cold, our hearts were warmed by Steve’s passion. We were joined by his loving wife, Ann, and his two lovable dogs. We were fed the most delicious shiitake soup, venison chili, chocolate brownies, and carrot cake–all homecooked, of course!
This soup was the shiit…ake.

Steve gave us a tour of his entire shiitake farm, which was part of his 100+ acre land. It was incredible to see how much manual labor is put into this process. Steve told us that this year, they are inoculating 500 logs! Although many logs are used, he prefers to use oak logs for shiitakes. The logs that we inoculated this weekend will begin to fruit in April…2013!

A glance at part of Steve’s shiitake farm.
 All in all, it was an amazing experience. We thank Steve and his wife so much. The coolest part is that growing shiitakes isn’t even Steve’s main profession! He works as an artist for a local eco-friendly paper products company called, Acorn Designs. Check them out! And feel free to contact Steve if you’re interested in helping out with the shiitakes this summer!
The class showing their inoculated logs off (Steve is in the back right with the blue hat)!

DID YOU KNOW: Our professor, Jason Hamilton, informed us that “shii” means “oak,” and “take” means “mushroom.” So the literal translation of shiitake is “oak mushroom.” No wonder Steve prefers to use oak logs!

What’s the Buzz?

What kind of bee drops things?

A fumble bee.
What did the bee say to the flower?
Hello honey!
Who is a bee’s favorite singer?

Why so many bee jokes?
BEE-cause…bee season is starting!

The NTFP class is beginning preparations for our bees. This year we are making some changes/improvements to our hives so that we can produce more products (bees wax, propolis, honey, and more!)

BEE prepared for a lot of silly bee puns and jokes this upcoming month!

This little honey is one of our very own!

Sappy Poem

The end of syrup season’s here,

for all, it’s a sad time of year.
We had so much fun,
but alas, sap is done,
so now the Sugarbush is clear.

We loved all of your support,
whether you bought one bottle or a quart.
And from your kind money,
we’ll make tasty shrooms and honey,
of which you can make into a nice torte?

We also thank the maple trees,
for they give us products with such ease.
And if it weren’t for their sap,
that they allowed us to tap,
we’d be poorer than a homeless dog’s fleas.

So as we continue to move on,
to bees and other mushroom spawn,
we’ll keep in our brains
the syrup and its remains,
and how we no longer have to stay up till dawn!


Raisin’ the Roof at the Open House

Yesterday, March 31, 2012 – a date which will live in infamy – the South Hill Forest Products class hosted the best maple syrup open house this world has ever seen!!

Maybe it’s the maple syrup talking, but never has there been such a great mix a people enjoying some of nature’s sweetest product. There was sap, there were pancakes, there were fires (that were safely contained in our fire pits)…we had it all! So this post goes out to everybody who made this event such a big success! We truly appreciate all of the support we’ve received from the Ithaca community. It was such a pleasure meeting/seeing you all and we hope you had as much fun as we did!

Check out some of the pictures from the event:

Two of our wonderful tour guides–guiding our guests through the Sugarbush
Another tour group checkin some buckets for sap
…but not as much as our syrup!
Our pancakes were a big hit
Please sir, can I have some more?
Friends and family came from all over…
just to have some syrupsiously sweet liquid gold.

So, as sad as we are to see the end of the syrup season, some would call it a bittersweet time–because now we have more time to focus on mushrooms and bee products!

(bee on the look out for more updates)