Central State University holds hands-on workshop on backyard mushrooms

Nearly 25 people came to the workshop at Central State’s Seed to Bloom Botanical and Community Garden. The workshop is part of an introductory course in mushroom cultivation. In the garden, each participant received a log, drilled holes and inoculated them with mushroom spores.

Marc Amante, a natural resources educator at Central State and the event’s main demonstrator, said growing mushrooms isn’t as hard as it looks. And it’s a great way for urban farmers to earn extra cash.

“You get more for your money, you get more food in the same space,” Amante said. “And if you’re a farmer or an urban gardener who wants to sell produce, mushrooms are a very valuable crop.”

Some of the mushrooms the participants discovered included oyster mushrooms, shiitake mushrooms and wine cork mushrooms.

If an urban farmer wants to grow and sell mushrooms, Amante said different species could sell for between $10 a pound and $20. But if a gardener is only doing it as a hobby, it only requires a few tools.

“If you’re just doing this for fun, you can do it with your household drill and a hammer,” Amante said. “You drill a hole, hammer it [mushroom spawn in], you get wax on it. Peasy easy. Here.”

Alejandro Figueroa

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WYSO

Workshop participants inoculating mushroom spawn into holes drilled in logs.

Donnetta Boykin was one of several dozen people who attended the workshop. She has a farm plot in Trotwood as part of Central State’s farm incubator program. She grows zucchini, tomatoes, mustard greens and more, then sells them at a farmers market.

Now she is thinking of adding mushrooms to her plot

“I found this out of the blue. And I was like, what? You grow mushrooms? I have to be in on it. So, I really want to add this to my grow space.

Even though people don’t want to grow mushrooms for a living, Amante said growing them doesn’t require a lot of work. They can be grown in raised beds next to a mulched vegetable patch, making them just another food that can grow in the garden.

Food journalist Alejandro Figueroa is a member of the body with Report for America, a national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms.

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