Nfld. & Labrador

Mushroom forest will mean less grocery shopping for Mobile homesteaders

A Southern Shore couple has launched an ambitious plan to grow a lot of slow food. They're using thousands of pounds of birch to grow hundreds of pounds of edible fungus — shiitake and oyster mushrooms.

Couple plans to use 27,000 pounds of birch to grow hundreds of pounds of edible fungus annually

Homesteader Steve McBride is growing oyster and shiitake mushrooms at his home near Mobile, on Newfoundland's Southern Shore. (Lisa McBride/Mark Quinn)

Some people would be upset to find mushrooms in their basement.

Not Steve McBride.

He cultivated them there on purpose and then ate them.

"We've grown indoors. Just a bucket or two with sawdust. Growing mushrooms just for the table," said McBride.

Now, McBride and his partner, Lisa McBride, have launched a more ambitious plan to produce more slow food.

McBride has arranged mycelium-filled birch logs to maximize mushroom growth. 'This little forest grove should look just magical with mushrooms bursting from the logs and stools," wrote McBride on Facebook. (Lisa McBride/Facebook)

"I'm hoping for hundreds of pounds of shiitake and oyster mushrooms every year," said Steve McBride.

This summer, McBride had a large stack of birch logs delivered to his home. He's drilling thousands of holes into the wood and filling them with mushroom mycelium that he bought online.

I'm still buying meat from the stores. I'm looking to transition to more mushrooms in our diet, more fungus.- Steve McBride

"I've got my work cut out for me. Twenty-seven thousand pounds of fresh birch and 8,000 mushroom plugs marks the beginning of a new project on the McBride Homestead: a mushroom forest," he said.

The shiitake and oyster mushrooms the McBrides are cultivating are sometimes available in grocery stores but they aren't planning to sell what they produce.

McBride prepares birch logs to grow shiitake and oyster mushrooms. (Mark Quinn)

The McBrides raise goats, chickens and turkeys at their home a few kilometres from the Southern Shore highway. They're also growing vegetables and keeping bees for honey. They hope mushrooms will make them even more independent from grocery stores.

These are some of the mushrooms Steve and Lisa McBride have grown at their home in Mobile. (Lisa McBride)

"We don't produce all of our own meat right now. I'm still buying meat from the stores. I'm looking to transition to more mushrooms in our diet, more fungus, simply because that will get some of the meat off our plates, that will bring some of our diet more local, and we'll be producing a lot of our own food," he said.

Three-foot lengths of birch are stacked outside the McBride homestead to encourage maximum mushroom growth. (Mark Quinn/CBC)

Once the birch is plugged with mushroom mycelium, the logs are stacked with plenty of room for fungus to flourish.

McBride says it could take up to a year for mushrooms to grow from the wood outdoors but he plans to bring some logs indoors and hopefully harvest a crop of mushrooms next spring.

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