Stropharia Mushroom Farm (SMF) is an indoor mushroom production facility in Naples, Florida. It is owned by Jor’ El and Sheth Schustrin, with a little help from Sheth’s son, Anthony, a budding mycologist.
Jor’ El initially owned a video production company called Stropharia Productions, the name also belonging to the Stropharia family of mushrooms. Jor’ El became interested in the possible Medicinal properties of mushrooms due to family health issues.
He started experimenting with producing mushrooms at home, much like the home-brew beer enthusiast. Unfortunately, the cultivation of mushrooms expanded from his condo closet to his bedroom, and then to a second bedroom, necessitating a larger space. His brother, Sheth, has been a chef in the area for many years. The interest in Sheth’s restaurant connections also furthered the growth of SMF.
The mushroom production process is really interesting. It can get quite technical. I will try to keep it as simple and understandable as possible. I found this Overview from the North American Mycological Association very informative.
Mushroom cultures can be started in a number of ways. Spores (sort of mushroom seeds) obtained from the underside of a mushroom cap as Spore Prints, slices of the mushroom cap which contain spores or pre-purchased Liquid Culture Syringes can be put onto grain to produce Mushroom Spawn.
Mushroom spawn promotes the growth of Mycelium, sort of the “roots” of a mushroom. Popcorn (pictured), sorghum or sorghum/rye mixtures are some of the many grain mixtures used to make mushroom spawn. This all has to be done in a sterile environment such as a Sterile Air Flow Hood.
Once the spawn is produced small amounts can be recultured on Petri dishes or additional grains to keep the mycelium growing for long periods of time and to really amplify your initial efforts. Once adequate mycelium is formed the spawn is transferred, again under sterile conditions, into their final growth bags known as substrate.
At SMF, the mushroom substrate used is made from oak and soy. This mimics a dead tree that mushrooms love to grow on in the wild. This spawn-substrate mixture is then stored under controlled environmental conditions to further mycelial growth. One jar of spawn is enough to inoculate 2 to 3 bags of substrate, which will produce two to three pounds of mushrooms.
After optimal growth of the mycelium, a small opening is then made in the substrate bags. The bags are again placed under strictly controlled conditions of temperature, light and humidity to allow the bags to “fruit” or produce mushrooms. The substrate bags are now known as fruiting blocks.
Once the mushrooms mature on the fruiting blocks, they can then be harvested. After harvesting, the fruiting blocks are capable of producing another crop, or “flush” of mushrooms. Interestingly, Jor’ El told me the used fruiting bags that are no longer viable to produce mushrooms can be used as Compost and as a soil conditioner in gardening. The mycelium in spent oyster mushroom fruiting blocks has also been shown to Break Down Plastics and Oil. The oyster mushroom mycelium appears to use these substances as carbon sources to grow.
I found all of this information fascinating, but by now you must be wondering where can you purchase mushrooms grown at SMF? As of this writing, SMF is selling their wares at the Pine Ridge Farmers Market Sunday in Naples from 9 AM to 1 PM.
Additionally, SMF is at the new Indoor Hand and Harvest Artisans Market at the Mercato in Naples on the second and fourth Saturday of the month from 10 AM to 2 PM. One can purchase a variety of mushrooms like these beautiful blue oyster mushrooms. The availability and prices of the various mushrooms grown by SMF can be found here. Besides farmers’ markets, they also sell directly from their production facility. Call for pickup or delivery.
The offerings from SMF are not only extremely unique for Southwest Florida, but also extremely delicious. I recently bought a pound of their oyster mushrooms for dinner with friends. I cooked them on the grill as a whole block, sprayed with canola oil, and seasoned them simply with salt and pepper. Everyone raved about them, and they helped make a memorable meal that much more memorable.
The mushrooms produced at SMF are most remarkable. I hope in the near term they will be able to expand both their production and availability in our area.
That’s that for another post on Forks.
Stropharia Mushroom Farm
2377 Linwood Ave. #205
Naples, FL 34112