A lot has happened in our mushroom world since my last post back in August. Rarely a day goes by without a new puzzle to figure out on the farm. It’s hard and the hours are long, but the thrill of watching our babies grow and watching a chef’s eyes light up after opening a case of our mushrooms makes me 100% sure I’m in the right business. In future posts, I want to go into the farm in more detail, but for now I wanted to report on what’s going on at Saul High School.
Saul’s vertical design project this year was coined “Mycelium Suites” and is a 4-story mushroom motel replete with light, humidification and air exchange. Daily misting and cleaning services included.
Mycelium Suites. Mush Rooms Available
Much like the butcher who owned the apartment in Delicatessen, (***SPOILER ALERT***), we cook our tenants up after a short stay.
Miss McAtamney’s 2014-2015 seniors have done an excellent job of misting, re-filling the tank, and cleaning evidenced by the gargantuan King Trumpets we harvested last Friday. This first flush weighed in at just over one pound which is close to our current average on the farm! We also harvest 1/3 pound of pioppini which prefer high humidity levels best achieved on a large scale. Not bad!
We harvested, weighed and then got to work making quesadillas. It was cool to see the students had some cooking skills and everybody ate the mushrooms. One turned from a mycophobe to a mycophage.
I can’t explain how tasty these mushrooms are. If you’re having trouble getting mushrooms into your finicky kids’ diets, I would try sauteeing King Trumpets up in butter and salt and adding a tiny bit of brown sugar. They’ll disappear like candy.
Eating choice mushrooms at their peak of freshness wasn’t the only goal of this project. Having a fruiting chamber in the classroom gives students a chance to interact with the components of a mushroom farm and learn the basics of mushroom farming.
I’ve blogged about Saul in the past, but I just wanna sing it’s praises once again because it is a treasure of the Philadelphia School District. Kids get hands on experience on a functioning farm (Henry Got Crops). They get to operate heavy machinery, design lots of projects, raise animals, hike in Wissahickon Park, sell produce, be a member of FFA.
The status and profitability of the small farm is actively changing thanks to Permaculture and to a growing population of consumers that understands and tastes the difference between factory farmed and locally grown, sustainable produce. While the average farmer is elderly and largely dependant on chemical companies to extract value from sick land, never has there been a better time to seriously consider farming as a way of living the life you want and the planet wants for you. Farming doesn’t have to destroy our land. In fact it can restore and heal environments.
That’s why I’ve been teaching at Saul for 4 years. We all know that our planet is facing serious issues- too numerous to list here. Getting our food the right way is essential. Older generations owe it to the younger generations to provide them the education and tools they need to create the big ideas that will help humanity restore the planet, and farming is way up there. It’s that simple. And they’re not going to hatch those big ideas if they’re locked up in a classroom studying textbooks. A future generation will look back on our public schools, designed to be like factories and jails, and shudder at the thought of all the inately creative beings who lost their creativity and confidence in the power of their minds to change the world.
In 2015, let nature inspire you. Then inspire someone younger.