UMCA News Release
Forest-farming entrepreneurs, experts team up for 'tree to table' mushroom field day, April 16
March 1, 2005
SALEM, Mo. - For the past 14 years, Ozark Forest Mushrooms, a family-owned farm, has brought the rich, distinct taste of fresh and dried shiitake mushrooms to gourmet plates and retail shelves in the St. Louis area. The farm's owners now extend their knowledge of forest management, mushroom production and marketing strategies during a field day, Saturday, April 16.
"Shiitake Mushroom Production: From Tree to Table," begins at 9:30 a.m. with refreshments and registration. At 10 a.m., farm demonstrations and field tours will cover the steps involved in mushroom production, forest management, timber stand improvement and forest farming.
The field day will showcase a recently completed greenhouse with wood burning furnace that proprietors Nicola MacPherson and Dan Hellmuth built to provide renewable, year-round mushroom production using "spent" mushroom logs. An agricultural producer research and education grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) program helped fund construction of the wood furnace for researching mushroom cultivation during the cold season and sustainable usage of wood resources.
In addition, participants will tour the log inoculation, spawn run and harvesting sites firsthand. Packaging and marketing strategies also will be featured. A mushroom-themed lunch will be served at noon, with forest management demonstrations and field tours resuming at 1:30 p.m. and concluding at 3:30 p.m.
"We hope whoever leaves this event has gained knowledge of the shiitake cultivation and marketing process, but also has a team of professionals to contact regarding the management of their forested areas for forest farming production," MacPherson said. "Everything is intertwined - caring for your land and trees means choosing sustainable practices that will also earn short-term profit and maintain healthy long-term forests."
Ozark Forest Mushrooms is one of Missouri's most successful demonstrations of forest farming practices. MacPherson and Hellmuth established the shiitake mushroom operation near Salem, Mo., in 1990 with 100 shiitake logs on what was then a timber operation. Today, production has grown to include 12,000 logs, using only five of the farm's 2,500 acres.
The entrepreneurial couple coordinates every step of the value-added process, from the inoculated log to the packaged, consumer-friendly mushroom products. Markets for fresh, dried and shiitake product mixes include restaurant owners, chefs, catering companies and organic food stores. Mushrooms are refrigerated within one hour of harvest to retain optimum freshness and quality, and then shipped directly to customers.
Cost for the field day is $25 per person, which includes lunch and refreshments. Pre-registration is required, as the event is limited to 60 participants. Registration deadline is April 10th. The event will be held rain or shine. Participants are encouraged to wear attire appropriate for walking on rugged, wooded terrain and to bring umbrellas.
A brochure and registration form with additional details are available online at http://www.centerforagroforestry.org/events/index.php. Contact Ozark Forest Mushroomsat (314) 531-9935 for more information, or go online to http://www.ozarkforest.com.
The field day is co-hosted by the University of Missouri Center for Agroforestry, http://www.centerforagroforestry.org. For more information about the Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education producer grant programs, visit www.sare.org. To learn more about production at Ozark Forest Mushrooms, visit www.ozarkforest.com.
Source: Dan Hellmuth (314) 531-9935
Senior Information Specialist
Center for Agroforestry
University of Missouri