Local Farm Makes Way for Mushrooms – Post Bulletin

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Local mushrooms make both meals and medicine.

Kalvin Stern and Rachel Davis own and operate Fiddlehead Knob, a mushroom farm in LeRoy, Minnesota. The farm is a 25-acre homestead owned and operated by Davis’ grandfather.

Rachel, Eliza and Kalvin from Fiddlehead Knob Farm at Rochester Farmers Market.

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Stern and Davis have always loved hiking as a couple. When they moved to Boone, North Carolina after college, Stern learned more about foraging for wild mushrooms during hiking expeditions. The pair have also been very involved in the local Boone food scene. Stern worked on an organic farm and learned how to grow mushrooms in outdoor beds.

When the couple returned to Minnesota in 2018, wanting to continue contributing locally grown foods, they began making plans to open Fiddlehead Knob. They bought the Davis acreage in 2019.

Fiddlehead Knob grows mushroom varieties including shiitake, lion’s mane, blue oyster and chestnut. “We’re very proud of our shiitake,” Stern said. He describes them as having an aromatic flavor that fits into many different kitchen styles.

“Shiitake’s dense, meaty texture also makes it a great meat substitute,” he said.

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Chestnut Mushrooms growing in the Fruit Chamber at Fiddlehead Knob Farm.

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Stern and Davis dry some mushrooms — such as reishi and chaga — for medicinal purposes. After making a double extracted tincture that removes both water and alcohol soluble properties in each mushroom, these medicinal mushrooms can be added to coffee or tea and support a healthy immune system.

Fiddlehead Knob uses both indoor and outdoor growing techniques. To grow mushrooms inside, the farm has a sterile laboratory, an incubation chamber and a fruiting chamber. Airflow, temperature, humidity, lighting and carbon dioxide levels are carefully regulated in these separate areas.

“Trying to mimic nature can be a delicate process and requires a lot of time and attention to detail,” Stern said.

Mushrooms grow on blocks made from sawdust and organic soy hulls. After the mushrooms bear fruit, these growing blocks are composted and returned to the farm’s garden.

Lion's Mane Mushroom grows in Fiddlehead Knob's indoor nursery.  .jpg
A Lion’s Mane Mushroom is growing in Fiddlehead Knob’s indoor fruiting chamber.

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For outdoor cultivation, Fiddlehead Knob uses locally harvested tree trunks that are shaded and sheltered from the wind by their pines to keep them from drying out. They have 1,800 logs that have shiitake mushrooms growing on them. Stern says they strive to employ forest management practices that help them work closely with nature “while producing food and creating a healthy microbiome” for their farm.

In addition to growing mushrooms, Stern also hunts for mushrooms in the wild. He is certified by the Minnesota Mycological Society to collect and sell a variety of wild mushrooms. He hunts for wild mushrooms, including morels, grouse and chanterelles.

“In addition to being delicious and nutritious,” Stern said, “mushrooms are the earth’s recycling system. You can take a waste product and turn it into food very quickly. They can be especially helpful for areas that have experienced natural disasters and need a food source quickly.”

Mushrooms can be grown on wood chips under plants in a garden. They can also be planted in woodlands or as part of a landscape design. “You’ll come back year after year like a perennial,” Stern said.

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Blue Oyster Mushrooms.

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Stern and Davis say Fiddlehead Knob Farm is a family affair. They love taking their 2-year-old daughter Eliza out in search and helping them sell their mushrooms at local markets. Her daughter says she loves checking on the “porridge” every morning.

Fiddlehead Knob is currently selling mushrooms that they have grown and collected at the Rochester Farmers Market. They also offer other mushroom related items for sale such as: B. Grow kits. The Osage Farmers Market is another location that Fiddlehead Knob works with.

In addition, they also deliver weekly to the People’s Food Co-op in Rochester. Stern says you can find their oyster mushrooms stocked there. The farm hopes to continue expanding its business to partner with local restaurants and businesses in southeast Minnesota and northeast Iowa.

Stern says the rapid lifecycles of mushrooms make it fun to watch as they grow. Both he and Davis are passionate about educating people on how to grow their own mushrooms and be more confident in finding mushrooms in the wild.

“They’re delicious, nutritious and good for the earth,” Stern said. “We are excited to be part of the local food scene in our communities.”

  • Fungi are neither plants nor animals, but genetically closer to humans than plants.
  • Mushrooms do not use photosynthesis and can grow in the dark as they absorb nutrients from organic matter. Some mushrooms even glow in the dark.
  • Mushrooms are the fruit of mushrooms, and mushrooms are the largest life forms on earth. The largest living organism on the planet is a honey fungus in Oregon’s Malheur National Forest. It is at least 2,400 years old and more than three miles wide.

John Sievers is a freelance writer based in Rochester.

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