Humans have been growing mushrooms using low-tech approaches for more than 2000 years, and you can too!
There is a growing movement of radical mycologists, home-scale mushroom growers and do-it-yourself kinda people who are experimenting with easy and cheap ways to grow mushrooms on recycled waste materials, without needing a lab or expensive materials. There are so many cool things you can do once you understand the basics about fungi, and I hope this blog will offer some inspiration for further mushroom adventures.
Ja Schindler, fungi wizard of http://fungiforthepeople.org/ offers the term myco-resiliency to describe the ability to learn from and work with fungi in an ever changing environment. I feel this is key to approaching mushroom cultivation- as a mutual and dynamic relationship- led by your curiosity. Let is be respectful, reciprocal, playful and explore, connect, listen, experiment.
My name is Danielle, and I have been growing mushrooms for about 4 years. This little business and its related projects- D.I.Y. Fungi- trades and sells mushroom spawn, and teaches people to grow their own fungal food and medicine. I also work on some small-scale bioremediation projects with fungi and other life.
In this work I am really standing on the shoulders of inspiring teachers Peter McCoy and Willoughby Arevalo of Radical Mycology, Ja Schindler of Fungi for the People, and Leila Darwish of Earth Repair ; and drawing on the works of Paul Stamets, Tradd Cotter and others, as well as from my own experience of mistakes, failures, and things that have really worked. So hopefully you will have a starting point where you can avoid total failure, but I also hope you make mistakes and fail some because that’s where I know I learned the most.
I’m engaging in this work on the unceded territories of Coast Salish people- in Victoria where I live, its of the Lekwungen-speaking and WESANEC peoples. This is always important for me to hold in my awareness and act from a place of knowing I am a visitor here (well, an unwelcome guest). My family taught me that guests always bring gifts, respect the home and customs of the hosts (ask if you don’t know), and clean up after yourself. Instead, settler culture has brought destruction and pollution here. Fungi are a great model for how to be a good guest and host. In Radical Mycology’s words, “Fungi are adaptive, creative, and aware and interacts with its environment as though keeping the health of the greater system in mind. It is great model for co-existence and interconnectedness and interdependence based on mutual aid, decentralization, and living in a way that benefits all.”
This is a great inspiration to me. It is perhaps especially important because the language of mycology has been developed by white men, so far as I know, and frames fungal life as colonization. When a mushroom eats and takes over a food source, say, a log, it is said that the fungi has colonized the log. Lets just say, myceliated, taken over, or eaten all the way through, instead.
Really, people from all over the world (notably Japan) have been growing mushrooms for more than 2000 years, and eating mushrooms for food, medicine, and spiritual practice, for perhaps 20,000 years (from Tibet, Mexico, Egypt and beyond!) And, our grandmas and great-grandmas developed many of the home-scale methods for preserving food that are now making it easy for people to cultivate mushrooms at home.