Friday, November 14, 2014

Georgia November

November here in Georgia has been gorgeous.  The trees have graced our yard with their beauty for longer this year than any I remember. The temps, until today,  have been perfect.  I get spoiled and am truly surprised when the weather has the audacity to bring a chill of 30 degrees.  So now reality sets in and I feel winter on its way.  Not a fan of winter, I will have to stock up on long sleeve shirts, thick trousers and replace the boots my dog Belle chewed up last night.  However, once prepared I can brave the cold and enjoy my beautifully wild yard.

This is the barn we are transforming into a grow room. 

View from the deck

We've been to Mulberry St. Farmers' Market on Tatnall Square in Macon.  The produce, meat and goat cheese vendors are remarkable.  I feel honored to be a part of this market.  This past Wednesday we sold out of Shiitake in an hour.  I actually had a line waiting to buy.  Another first for Shiitake Village.  I love the people involved in the market including the customers.  It's really the only way to shop.  It's so much more fun than the grocery store.

This was our first time at Tatnall.  We still didn't have a tent, so sold out of the truck. That's me setting up.

View across the Square.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Organic Log Shiitake

The month of October sped through my life like a freight train.  I did notice the absolutely perfect weather and took advantage of it whenever I could be outside.  And outside is where I found myself among the gorgeous, plump shiitake that graced our logs in abundance.

Everyday I harvested pounds upon pounds of my favorite mushroom.  Cooking new dishes with shiitake became a learning experience that ultimately made me feel like a gourmet chef.  But what to do with the other 50 pounds?  This being my first year in business, I had to scramble to figure out how to market these beauties.  I went down to the Courthouse Market an extra day, but that didn't help much so I signed up to attend two other markets.  One on Tattnall Square in Macon and the Bolingbroke market in Bolingbroke.  This was not enough, I still had too many so I went to East Atlanta, found a wonderful neighborhood chocked full of independent restaurants that bought local produce when they could.  Urban Cannibals, an organic and vegan restaurant bought 5 pounds and Cal, the owner, even tried to hook me up with other chefs around town.  We are checking out Bolingbroke tomorrow.  I'll let  you know how it goes.
Our logs are now sleeping for a while, so we'll ramp up our indoor production and continue to discover how and where to sell them.  Wish us luck.

Monday, September 15, 2014

New Strain a Success

While I'm waiting for the milo to dry so we can make some more grain spawn, I have to celebrate this past Saturday.  We finally were blessed with enough mushrooms to take to the Courthouse Square Market in McDonough.
It's a great place to be on any day of the week, but we'll be selling with the other vendors on Saturdays. There's a great little restaurant that serves all kinds of goodies along with vendors of vegetables, eggs, boiled peanuts, baked goods and crafts of all kinds not to mention the different flavored beers on sale.  There is also a booth that is all things honey, yum.  Want to pamper your pet?  There are organic made treats available as well as cute accessories for the special dog in your life.  

I had a great time selling my mushrooms and hope our new strain from Aloha Medicinals will come through for this Saturday as well.  We loved our huge. meaty shiitake but the new strain delivers small, tender mushrooms easy to cook with.  
We're working hard to establish quality and quantity and we're getting there slowly but surely.  We love what we do and hope to be the source of locally, naturally grown Shiitake mushrooms.  Hopefully later this fall we'll be able to deliver oyster mushrooms as well.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Like I Said

Still working on the fence.  It looks good so far.  We even have the gate up across the driveway.  It's exciting to see the end to this project.  Maybe two more weeks.  Belle is learning her boundaries and hasn't gotten into much trouble.  Just eating things she shouldn't and chewing on things not hers.

On the mushroom side of things, we're really trying to figure out a year-round cycle for producing the Shiitake and oysters.  We really have to get with our suppliers and just have them send what's needed at the right times.  We're also cloning and creating our own spawn so that should help some.

When we do get Shiitake in, we hope to sell downtown. The last flush just 10 days ago got dehydrated and sent out to mom, Jim and Ava and Aunt Alice to thank them for their support of our endeavor. It was fun to create the packaging and mailing labels for the company.  I also made a rack card for when we go to farmers markets.  This whole marketing gig is new to me.

Monday, August 4, 2014


I never thought that of all the things I have experienced in my life I would add pulling fence to the list.  We want to keep our big dog Belle from roaming the neighborhood.  Lately, at 7 months old, Belle has decided to be real friendly and visit the neighbors around us.  But her way of greeting is barking and running circles around you. With her size and looks it can be very intimidating.  So bottom line we need to keep Belle from TERRORIZING the neighborhood.  Vic and I purchased wire fencing and fence posts and this weekend put up fence along one side of our property, 330 feet worth.  Whew.  Fencing the rest of our two acres is going to be quite a job.  So hold on neighbors, it may be a long month.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Shiitake Logs

Who would have thought our Shiitake would decide to flush in mid July but here they are.  We expected them in October.
I got enough this morning to plan for dinner.  These are much smaller than the ones we grow indoors, but just as tasty.

Our Shiitake Village project will be over in 4 days.  So far 20 people have backed us on Kickstarter for a total of $794.00.  Way less than the $5500 we were trying to get but an awesome turn-out nevertheless.

Vic is being his inventive self again.  We sought advice from our very brilliant sister-in-law, Ava, Associate professor Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience, UofW, Milwaukee.  We wanted to know how her lab kept everything sterile.  She suggested a germicidal UV light.  So Vic found a
GermGuardian,GG1000 Pluggable UV-C Air Sanitizer with Odor Reduction and mounted it in our glove box.  I'll let you know how it goes.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Just Thinking - Probably too Much

We hoped when we started the Shiitake Village project on that we could get people especially in Georgia excited about Georgia grown and made products.  I was hoping that if we actually were backed that it would be in the local papers.  This would maybe get people to thinking that locally grown and made products are something to be very proud of.  That people would begin encouraging others to do the same and build some community pride here in Henry county.

I visited the local farmers market held on Thursdays from 10 to 2.  I talked to many who had booths, some for homemade aprons and bags, organic soaps and skin care products, jellies, jams, and of course  produce.  When I think of a market place I picture crowds of people bustling about buying their fruits and veggies etceteras, excitedly chattering and comparing of ideas.   But in actuality it was like walking into a funeral.  Not many customers, not many happy merchants.  I made it my job for the 30 minutes I stayed to converse with and truly show interest in what and who was there.  I bought some awesome homemade soap made with tons of oils and herbs and a few delicious peaches.  After all, you can't be in Georgia and not eat a darn good peach.

It would be tremendous if people everywhere, not just here and there, returned to the earth and really cared about community.  Too many of our brothers and sisters have left this earth, their minds lost in cyber space.  But I digress.  I can only hope that with my interest and others as well this farmers market can blossom.

It does take a village.  I just want to be part of it.

Now on a happier note:
We continue to improve our methods for growing shiitake and getting much cleaner.  I didn't realize it took such cleanliness to grow fungi successfully but the shiitake seem happier for it.  Have you hugged a shiitake today?  I have.

More pics of the ones I hold most dear to my heart.