Why Cultivate Mushrooms?
There are many reasons why mushroom cultivation is a great Non-Timber Forest Product:
- Mushrooms can be used in biology labs for studying their intriguing lifecycles and important ecological roles in the environment.
- Mushroom “roots”, also known as mycelium, can grow into interconnected underground webs weighing up to 2,000 tons which help prevent soil erosion, and also transport nutrients throughout the forest floor.
- About 3,000 of the 14,000 known mushroom species are edible and delicious.
- Approximately 700 mushroom species are known to have medicinal properties.
Since the summer of 2009, research students in the Ithaca College Department of Environmental Studies and Sciences have been attempting both indoor and outdoor mushroom cultivation, slowly working out the kinks of mushroom farming each year. Through the outside reading of Paul Stamets’ Mycelium Running and Ithaca College’s very own Mushroom Cultivation Guide Book, students became aware of the incredible powers of mushrooms and how they can (as Stamets puts it) help save the world!
For more innovative ideas with Mushrooms, check this out!
Current Indoor Facility
The main goal of the indoor facility is to mimic ideal outdoor conditions allowing year-round mushroom cultivation. In order to maintain these conditions we have added the following provisions to the indoor farm:
- A humidifier to maintain a humidity level of 80 – 90%.
- A small room constructed of PVC piping and Tyvek plastic sealant which will keep the area bacteria, mold and bug free. This is the colonization room where the mycelium grows in the dark.
- A ventilation system within the building to continuously refresh the air.
- Consistent sterilization of the floors, walls, and mushroom racks to further protect the area from unwanted organisms.
- Hooks from which plastic bags filled with a substrate and large amounts of spawn hang, allowing mushrooms to grow on a vertical surface.
Mushrooms currently being cultivated:
We sell fresh and dried oyster mushrooms. What do you do with dried mushrooms? Click here for some tasty ideas!
Someday in the future, we would hope to see this research project blossom into a self-sustaining small mushroom producing business. With successful annual production this business will hopefully turn a profit for further improvements and also offer healthy and delicious mushrooms to students and residents of Ithaca. As the business grows, we hope to further educate ourselves and the local community about the benefits of mushrooms and the importance of non-timber forest products.