Hello everyone! I’m Dave and I was volunteering at the Fungi Folks mushroom barn last week to help start growing the first batch of lion’s mane mushroom.
This furry fungus has shown some interesting results in scientific studies as well as having various traditional uses. Here’s a bit more info from Fungi Folk’s, “Lion’s mane has shown promise in the treatment of dementia in human clinical studies. It has also been implicated in the treatment of depression and anxiety, with a lot of modern research focusing on the benefits to the brain and cognitive function. It has been used traditionally for its anti-inflammatory and immune supporting potential, as well as in treating stomach and gut conditions.” Good stuff!
Shortly after I arrived on Thursday, we prepared bags to grow the mushrooms in. Those of you who have ever tried a mushroom grow kit will know that using plastic bags is a tried and true way to grow ’em.
In the morning on Friday, the first thing was a quick chat through the plan.
Then fetching the oak sawdust to grow the lion’s mane mushroom in, which they checked for hydration levels. To do this, they weighed a portion of sawdust (known as the ‘wet weight’) on a plate and dried it out gradually in the microwave until the weight stayed constant, meaning that all the water had evaporated (known as the ‘dry weight’). By subtracting the dry weight from the wet weight you can work out the hydration level.
Then they weighed out the rest of the sawdust itself and created a big pile in the middle of the mushroom barn – a rather satisfying mess!
I noticed that they tested the sawdust by using their senses–touch and smell–to check the quality in order to encourage the best success with lion’s mane. They then weighed up a load of bran and mixed it all together. To this, they added a specific amount of water to achieve the required hydration rate: somewhere between 60 and 65% for the lion’s mane mycelium to grow well. Another hydration test in the microwave confirmed the correct levels.
They then got the bags, the plastic ones we prepped earlier, and packed each one carefully, weighing them individually to get the right amount of sawdust in it. It’s a precise process and I was quite impressed with how neatly squared off the bags were! They then stacked the bags on the rack, ready for growing. I must say that Matt and Ben worked very well together and got this done really quickly.
My role in all of this was to takes some photos (See below for a few more).
At this point, I needed to head home, so I left and let The Fungi Folks to continue!
It’ll be interesting to see how it all progresses over the next few weeks and I will be pinging them to get an update, so stay tuned! Lion’s Mane mushroom will be available in the Fungi Folks shop in a matter of weeks.
If you fancy volunteering at the farm then contact Ben. It was very rewarding and fascinating!