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!

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