Country life skills from a mushroom farmer, entrepreneur, blogger, homeschool mom and amateur naturalist ----> Ask Me Anything

Mrs. Carlyn McKee
Aug 27, 2018

Visit my farm's website here: Greenwood Farm

Read an article about us published in Forbes. 

We grow gourmet mushrooms for a living, and enable you to grow your own too! Shippable Countertop Kits, Shiitake and Oyster Plug Spawn to grow on logs, and Classes (link contains lodging and dining recommendations). 

New to Mycology? I created a digital pdf of information of the basics available to download now. 

We are hosting an essay contest to win 2 of our Countertop Mushroom Kits and our Basic Mycology Packet. 

Why is it important to learn about Mycology?

All the deets here

Ask me about gardening, foraging, herbalism, mycology, blogging, history of farming in the USA, modern farming, the local food movement, organic growing methods, modern mycology, permaculture, urban and rural food production, the Appalachian ecosystem.

Follow Greenwood Farm on FaceBook (we have 3 FB groups associated with our farm! Garden and Forage, Study Fungi and Mushroom Recipes), Twitter, Instagram and subscribe to our fun newsletters. 

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What is the most enjoyable part about being able to live your life the way you do?
Aug 29, 4:37AM EDT1

The time spent in nature with our family often enjoying fantastic meals that helped nourish our ecosystem and community. 

Aug 29, 11:00AM EDT1
How much money is spent on running a mushroom farm? Did you get back a lot of your start up money?
Aug 29, 1:50AM EDT1

The numbers are pretty big for the initial investment, especially considering our learning curve because there are no manuals. We are recovering our startup investment now, and are making a living wage with it. We are planning to expand into offering more educational outreach programs, so a lot is now being put towards those renovations, equipment and advertising fees. 

Aug 29, 11:02AM EDT1
What have you learned about some mushrooms that you didn't know before?
Aug 29, 1:18AM EDT1

Hi Teerin, 

We had very little mycological knowledge before we began cultivating mushrooms in our garage to see if there was indeed a market that could support us. Since realizing how important they are, we've begun doing more educational outreach to help fascinate children and adults with their understanding of mycology. 

One fascinating mushroom is the Cordyceps, that "zombifies" an insect and gains control of it's muscles. It moves it to an idea location to release it's spores and feasts on the insect as it grows it's fruiting body. If found in this stage, the mushroom can be used to make a safe and vitality-enhancing tea or tincture for humans. 

Aug 29, 11:08AM EDT1
What are the beginner essentials to start a mushroom farm?
Aug 29, 1:09AM EDT1

1) Education and faith in oneself to endure setbacks and be able to persevere.  2) Funding for equipment and materials 3) An ideal space for as much climate and contamination control as possible 4) Several outlets for vending mushrooms

Aug 29, 11:10AM EDT1
What are some of the herbs you cannot do without?
Aug 28, 5:02AM EDT1

Thyme is our favorite! 

Rosemary, oregano and mint are also our most frequently used herbs. 

Aug 28, 3:59PM EDT1
How can an amateur naturalist get more involved in the local ecological scene?
Aug 27, 7:50PM EDT1

Excellent question, Mattczy!

We are planning to offer classes in our renovated barn soon, and 25% of the classes will be about the Appalachaian ecosystem. In an effort to begin to create a target audience, I've established and now maintain a FaceBook group about Farm Events and Nature Classes. I invite any farms or people that I have found are offering events to join and post in the group, and can see it growing already. 

I would recommend networking with others, especially childrens groups, to offer classes. 

Bulletin boards, both irl and craigslist, are also important. 

Aug 28, 4:02PM EDT1
What is the composition of the substrate in the bags?
Aug 27, 6:01PM EDT1

Sterlized hardwood substrate mixed with vital minerals and locally-grown sorghum grains, inoculated with mycelium grown in our farm's lab. 

Aug 27, 7:33PM EDT1
Which mushrooms are a favorite amongst your customers? Why do you think so?
Aug 27, 2:52PM EDT1

Hello Fethi,

Shiitake (Lentinula edodes) is the most commonly requested mushroom, most likely due to their presence on The Food Network. 

Our campaign for Oyster (Pleurotus ostreatus) has yeilded a following, especially among our repeat customers. 

Aug 27, 7:36PM EDT1
What inspired you to come up with the couter top kits? What components make up this kit?
Aug 27, 12:54PM EDT1

Hi Jessica,

We want to empower people to grow their own mushrooms and learn about fungi.

Having another product is helpful, too, especially since it is shippable. 

The kit contains a sterlized hardwood substrate mixed with vital minerals and locally-grown sorghum grains, inoculated with mycelium grown in our farm's lab. 

Aug 27, 7:39PM EDT1
Do you have a favourite mushroom type? Why is it your favourite?
Aug 27, 9:31AM EDT1

My favorite is the Oyster mushroom (Pleurotus ostreatus) because it is delicious, easily incorporated into many dishes, and provides a host of health benefits. 

Aug 27, 11:50AM EDT1
How do you measure your farming and entrepreneurial impact? What are the social impact milestones you are looking to hit in the next 5 years?
Aug 27, 8:18AM EDT1

Hi Shahriar,

I think our greatest impact has been by contributing such nourishing food to our nation that actually enhances, not damages our ecosystem, and encouages curiosity; our educational impact continues to expand because mycology is not commonly known. 

Within the next 5 years, we plan to have a thriving community of attendees for learning about small-farming techniques, homesteading skills, mycology, and nature conservation, all from our renovated barn.  

As that project grows in popularity, the inspiration to study and incorporate more mushrooms in the daily life will expand our business endeavors. 

Aug 29, 11:34AM EDT0
In addition to purchasing your mushrooms and kit, how else can people help you push your mission forward?
Aug 27, 7:25AM EDT1

Hi Sebby26,

Interacting on our posts, subscribing and forwarding our newsletter, connecting us with publishers and other like-minded farmers and naturalists would be great ways to further our mission. 

In a broader sense, keep studying mycology and shop at your local farmers market to support your local food security, because we are all interdependent. :) 

Thank you very much for asking. 

Aug 29, 11:27AM EDT1
How has your relationship with mushrooms changed through this experience?
Aug 27, 7:09AM EDT1

Hi Maria,

We now have a profound respect for a part of nature that we were basically oblivious to before. We respect their preventative properties, as well as their nourishing aspects. Now, we stirve to incorporate them into our diets and share them with everyone each day. 

Aug 29, 11:26AM EDT1
Are there specific conditions that are condusive for the mushrooms to be productive?
Aug 27, 6:42AM EDT1

Hello Erik,

Yes! 

This is the most challenging and humbling part of the cultivation. There are a few written materials, and videos, but we really had to learn by trial and error. 

Basically, temperature, humidity, light and fresh air exchange are the critcal environmental factors for each species of mushroom, that require (in the final stages called "fruiting") to fall within small ranges to yeild optimal production. 

Aug 27, 7:42PM EDT1
How did your interest in the study of mycology come about?
Aug 27, 4:49AM EDT1

Hi Marco,

We wanted to farm for the family-and-nature -centered lifestyle, and when we investigated mushroom farming as a possible niche for our area, we've been enamored since. It takes logic and creativity to be successful at it, as well as persistence and faith in oneself! :)

Aug 29, 11:24AM EDT1
What are gourmet and organic mushrooms? Also, how long do these mushroom kits last?
Aug 27, 3:15AM EDT1

Gourmet is often simple, yet it requires high-quality foods. 

Our motto/hastag is #SimpleGourmet

Organic isn't that important in the production of mushrooms because they break down chemicals at the molecular level and in this way, can be used to clean up pollution. 

Aug 29, 11:23AM EDT1
How can people in Pennsylvania or around the country get involved in your efforts?
Aug 27, 2:42AM EDT1

Follow us on social media and interact with our posts, as well as forwarding our newsletter to people that may be able to promote or attend. Connect us with publishers or like-minded farmers. 

Great question, Coreita! 

Aug 29, 11:21AM EDT1
Where do you see the limit of the potential for urban agriculture or do you even see a limit?
Aug 27, 1:58AM EDT1

Hello Catherine,

We think it is only limited by attitude; creativity and logic are all that is needed. There are many examples of successful urban designs of agriculture. For example, a favorite of ours is an abandoned water park that was converted to grow mushrooms; the humidity and light levels were easy to establish and the place was designed for tours. :) 

Aug 28, 3:52PM EDT1
What type of landscape and climatic conditions are required to grow a variety of mushrooms?
Aug 26, 9:13PM EDT1

Hello Lornale,

Humidity, light, temperature, and fresh air exchange- depending on the type of mushroom, are the variables in climate.

Log grown mushrooms require shade. 

Aug 28, 3:49PM EDT1
What are some of the important learnings that you have gained so far in your entrepreneurship journey?
Aug 26, 9:07PM EDT1

Hello Terry,

Entrepreneurship offers the opportunity to develop all of your logic, creativity and love!

We have learned that the value of networking to enhance our communication, inspire new techniques, befriend customers and collaborate with other business owners. Feeding people is an intimate and humbling act, and we are honored to offer such a splendid food for people. 

Educational outreach has grown to be our passion through our business, and it’s obvious to us now that ethical small businesses can do wonders for our ecosystems and communities.

Aug 28, 3:48PM EDT1
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