Alternative Forest Enterprises: Wild Gourmet Mushrooms

Forest management for Rural System extends well beyond just logging. With the guidance of prescriptive software, forestry on Rural System properties would seek to stabilize profits in the long term, while using the forest in as many beneficial ways as possible. One possible enterprise would be to cultivate wild mushrooms in favorable natural conditions on the property, which usually include old, shady trees.

The Warren Wilson forestry program has a shiitake mushroom project to help pay for their forest management plans.

The Warren Wilson College forestry program has a shiitake mushroom project for student education, and as additional profit for the program.

Mushrooms can provide many benefits to the land, other species, and property owners. Gourmet mushrooms attract high prices which could potentially be a source of profit for property owners.

If you’re interested in some of the benefits of mushrooms worldwide, watch this TED Talk by Paul Stamets, a leading mycologist. He has also published a guide to growing medicinal and gourmet mushrooms.

Many consumers may not realize that store bought mushrooms are cultivated in ways that leave them void of nutrients compared to their outdoor kin. Whenever possible, it is advisable to cultivate mushrooms on logs in forest conditions, rather than on sawdust blocks or other simulated substrate in order to improve nutrient content.  If you’d prefer hunting wild mushrooms instead, Fungal Jungal provides information on finding and identifying edible mushrooms, as well as handy recipes once you have them.

Rural System can use GIS software to map out the most ideal conditions on your land for cultivating gourmet mushrooms, whether as a supplement to farm and property income, or simply for your home kitchen. Targeting already ideal habitat could reduce the amount of labor and supplies needed for cultivation, potentially making the enterprise more lucrative.

Ideally, Rural System will combine mushrooms with other beneficial forest products to sustain forest ecosystems and forest profits over the long-haul.

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About Laurel Sindewald

Laurel is an alumna of Warren Wilson College with a BS in Conservation Biology and a BA in Philosophy. She is a writer for Rural System, Inc.

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