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Central State University Hosts Hands-On Backyard Mushroom Workshop

Natural Resources Educator at Central State University, Marc Amante, spreading straw in a raised garden bed to show how mushrooms can be grown alongside vegetables.
Alejandro Figueroa
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WYSO
Natural Resources Educator at Central State University, Marc Amante, spreading straw in a raised garden bed to show how mushrooms can be grown alongside vegetables.

Last Saturday Central State University Extension hosted a mushroom growing workshop. The people who attended got to learn how to start up their own personal mushroom farm and how to take care of it.

Nearly 25 people came out to the workshop at Central State’s Seed to Bloom Botanical and Community Garden. The workshop is part of an introduction to mushroom growing course. At the garden, each attendee received a log, drilled holes and inoculated them with mushroom spores.

Marc Amante, a Natural Resources Educator at Central State and the event’s lead demonstrator, said mushroom farming isn’t as hard as it might seem. And it’s a great way for urban farmers to make some extra money.

“You get more bang for your buck, you get more food out of the same space,” Amante said. “And if you are a farmer or urban gardener who’s interested in selling produce, mushrooms are an extremely high-value crop.”

Some of the mushrooms attendees learned about included oyster mushrooms, shiitakes and wine cap mushrooms.

If an urban farmer wants to grow and sell mushrooms, Amante said different species could retail anywhere between $10 a pound up to $20. But if a gardener is just 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 home drill and a hammer,” Amante said. “You drill a hole, hammer the [mushroom spawn in], you get some wax on it. Easy peasy. There you go.”

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Alejandro Figueroa
Workshop participants inoculating mushroom spawn into drilled holes in the logs.

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

Now, she’s thinking about adding mushrooms into her plot

“I found out about this on a fluke. And I was like, what? You’re growing mushrooms? I have to be in on this. So I’m definitely wanting to add this to my growth space.”

Even if people aren’t out to grow mushrooms for a living, Amante said growing them doesn’t require much work. They can be grown in raised beds alongside a mulched vegetable garden, making them just another food that can grow in the garden.

Food reporter Alejandro Figueroa is a corps member with Report for America, a national service program that places journalists into local newsrooms.