Have you ever turned a vacation into a spontaneous road trip? Well, that’s what we did a couple of weeks ago when driving down country roads in Pennsylvania when we saw this sign:
My original intent was to take the above picture and call it a day, but my husband (Keith) and his best friend (John) talked me into driving down the road a little further. Long story short, I dropped in unannounced just after 5p (OOOPS!) and bumped into the Operations Manager, Thomas. Other than my poor timing, he was happy to indulge me with my request for a quick tour of the farm so that I could share an ‘inside view’ with our group.
So, here is your personal (5 minute) tour…
Mother Earth Organics are USDA Certified Organic farms located in Pennsylvania. My tour took place in Avon Grove (Avon – soft “a”, not a hard “a” like the cosmetic company), where my father-in-law was born and raised. It turns out their ‘country store’ is now just a couple of book shelves with a few items on them. Thomas explained to me that more office space was needed recently and thus the ‘store’ had to be consolidated.
Outside View of a Mushroom Farm House
Inside View of the Three Layers of Mushroom Beds - White Mushrooms
Inside View of a Mushroom Bed - It appears to go on and on, and on...
Inside View of a Portabella Bed
Inside View of their Abundance of Portabellas - Simple beautiful
Inside View of the Harvest of Portabellas
Well, that’s your 5 minute tour of Mother Earth Organics. Because of my poor timing I didn’t have a chance to ask him details about farming mushrooms. We did however briefly chat about the importance of (organic) nutrient rich soil/fertilizer (ie sterile manure) and the controlled temperature/humidity/light.
My husband’s uncle (Mike) used to be a mushroom farmer in PA and knows the Yeatman family. He is always ready for a few mushroom stories when prompted. Likewise, Keith has fond memories of the ‘smell’ of PA mushroom farms and the towns that play host to these farms. He also remembers playing on manure mounds with his cousins. Nice thought, huh? Uncle Mike typically laughs along with him when they take a trip down memory lane together, reliving the ‘Good ‘Ole Days.’
One farming technique that has changed over the years is the use of light. According to Keith and Uncle Mike, farms used to seal out all light, or as much as possible with the assumption that they would grow faster. Now, as you can see in the photos, dim lights are used throughout the facility. Perhaps it is now realized low amounts of light is just as beneficial as no light. (This is a question I hope to ask Thomas as soon as we can connect.)
If you have mushroom farming questions, post them in your comment below. I will be more than happy to compile all of our questions for a phone interview with Thomas in the near future and then report back on our site.
If you’re interested in trying to ‘farm’ mushrooms, there are several great sites (and even kits) available for your reference. I personally enjoy reading eHow.
I hope you have enjoyed your quick tour of the mushroom farm that raises the mushrooms in our shares. It was a real treat for me to not only visit the farm but to share my experience.