On the morning of September 16, 2016, students from the Ecosystems course in the UNT Department of Geography and the Environment participated in a field trip to the local mushroom farm known as Tree Folk. Tree Folk starts by choosing mushroom tissues (cultures) known as mycelium to make sure they know what kind of mushroom they will be producing. To expand these cultures, the mycelium grows through (colonizes) steam-sterilized oats. Once colonized, the oats are used to inoculate steam-sterilized sawdust or pasteurized straw substrates (depending on the type and variety of mushroom being grown). Once inoculated, the substrates are kept in a temperature-controlled environment (below 80˚F) to fully colonize. Upon full colonization, the substrates are moved to a humid environment with fresh air exchange and cooler temperatures, which stimulates fruiting mushrooms. Once mushrooms are mature they are harvested and put in the refrigerator ready for sale.
The bag process used at Tree Folk is started by chopping straw reducing the particle size. The straw is soaked in 160˚F water, which removes contaminants and hydrates the straw. After pasteurization the straw is mixed with steam-sterilized alfalfa, and oats that are fully colonized with mycelium. This mixture is stuffed in large black plastic tubing and hung up, incubated in a temperature-controlled room and after 10 days produces mushrooms that are harvested for sale.
Tree Folk sells their different mushroom species at local farmers markets such as the one in Denton and in Dallas, TX. They also grow a variety of fruits in their garden consisting of plums, raspberries and many more. Tree Folk not only brings delicious mushrooms to the table they also bring awareness to ecologically sound growing methods.
By Katherine Jeffcoat
For more information on TreeFolk, visit https://www.facebook.com/treefolkmft/