Cheenius and the Mushrooms, Part I

Today we have a guest post from our resident survivalist, Cheenius, who attended a mushroom-growing workshop and was kind enough to share her experiences with us! Take it away, Cheenius!

Cheenius signed up for a “Mushroom Workshop” and was excited about the opportunity to share her experience with HP readers.  Offered by Mark Jones of Sharondale Farm in Keswick, the 3 hour course covered the biology, ecology and cultivation of mushrooms.

Eleven intrepid souls showed up in the rainy 38 degree weather to sip on the yummy herbal tea (free with registration of $60) and learn about fungus.   Mark proved to be quite knowledgeable, and provided interesting mushroom facts and insight.  For example, did you know that the largest living organism on the whole planet is a fungus?  It measures six square miles!

After some fungi basics, Mark walked us through his collection of poplar and oak logs in different stages of growing a number of mushroom varietals.  We then moved on to the hands-on part of the workshop, where he showed us how to drill holes in the logs, insert the spawn and cover it with cheese wax (Cheenius was happy to see that cheese wax has multiple uses!).

He had us each try our hand at the different parts of the process, and sent us home with our own starter spawn for oyster mushrooms.

Cheenius also purchased some shitake mushroom spawn as well as a nifty “innoculator” tool to make the insertion process easier.  As soon as she fells some trees she’ll be in business . . . in 8-12 months!

Cheenius recommends:


Good luck, Cheenius! Keep us posted on your progress!

Greenwood Gourmet Grocery

I am a little late this year since I’ve been in Asia, but yesterday I took my annual pumpkin-buying trip to Greenwood Gourmet, just west of Charlottesville. I love that place.

It was hard to choose! I ended up with a regular orange pumpkin, a funky gray pumpkinoid, and a pretty two-tone green and yellow gourd.

While there, I checked out their local food offerings–they carry local meats, cheese, produce, and wine. In the middle of the store was a big display with local Henley’s Orchard apples.

According to their web site, Henley’s sells pasture-raised beef, in addition to 38 varieties of apples, and 28 types of peaches. And speaking of happy meat…

…a whole case of it, from Wolf Creek Farm, Polyface Farms, and Free Union Grass Farm, all farms that raise animals on pasture with kindness and respect, and without pumping them full of antibiotics, hormones, and corn.

I made one last stop at the cheese counter.

Meadow Creek Dairy makes several kinds of cheese from its herd of healthy, happy cows. (Note to veggies: they use rennet in their cheese production.)

Fall is the perfect time to visit Greenwood Gourmet! While you’re stocking up on gourds, pick up some local, natural foods.

If you don’t grow your own…

…pick your own!

Today we took a field trip to Carter Mountain Orchard.

It was a beautiful day to hike through the orchard and pick a few peaches and apples. Yellow peaches and Ginger Gold, Red Delicious, Winesap, and Gala apple varieties are currently available for picking.

It was a satisfying venture in several respects: a lovely walk to pick delicious fruit, supporting a local farm, buying seasonal produce at the peak of its flavor.

Support local farms! Buy fresh, buy local!

Local Secrets from Relay Foods

While placing my usual order from Relay Foods for local squash, zucchini, onions, and eggs, I did a search to see what local fruits are on sale this week. I got an apple result, but also about thirty local wines, including some fun-sounding fruit wines from Peaks of Otter Winery. Blueberry? Pumpkin pie? Apple & chili pepper? Might have to head down that way for some hiking and wine tasting.

See how fun it can be to support local agriculture?