A Day at Cellar Mushrooms

Hello friends and mushroom lovers!

Today is like Take Your Child to Work Day, except our kids already come to work with us, so we're bringing you along, too! Join us for a peek at what goes on behind the scenes while we work to cultivate fresh, delicious culinary mushrooms for our lovely Vancouver community. 

8:30am - Quick store stop to pick up a couple of bags of hardwood pellets to make our substrate. We just ran through the last of our initial supply and need a tiny bit to tide us over until a huge shipment (over four tons!)  gets delivered in a few days. 

9:00am - Gather up and talk through what needs to happen for the day. Guzzle some coffee; drink some tea. Arrange for the big cousins to take turns watching the little cousin...a perk of running a family business! Work boots on, and into the grow space.

9:15 - Divide and conquer:

  • Harvest! We work hard to time our grow cycles so we can harvest as close to market day as possible in order to bring you the freshest mushrooms. When the weather is nice and it's a big harvest day, we like to bring our fruited blocks outside for a little extra elbow room. We weigh and box our mushrooms to store in the mushroom fridge until we pack up for the market.

  • New bag labels! We're switching to waterproof sticker labels on our unicorn bags so they don't peel up in the humid fruiting room, and adjusting which information we want on our labels by creating a new template to print on them. As a new business, we're always working to tweak our practices to become more efficient and effective.
  • New organizational system! With five of us running Cellar Mushrooms together, it's important we stay on the same page about what our mushrooms are doing, and where, and when, and how! We're creating a new whiteboard chart to keep track of which types of mushrooms are on which shelves in our spawn room, and when they need to be transferred to the fruiting room, which works in harmony with the info on the new labels above.
  • Move and stack spent substrate blocks to be packaged for market sales. Perfect for compost, mulch, or soil amendment!

10:45 - Transfer bags from the spawn room to the fruiting room. Each of our three varieties of mushrooms -- Pink Oyster, Black Oyster, and Lion's Mane -- stay in the spawn room for a different number of days. When their network of mycelium is nice and hearty and spread through the whole bag, we move them into the fruiting room (where they also stay for a different number of days before being harvested).

After releasing the air from the bags that have been sealed for 1-2 weeks, they get folded, shelved in very particular ways, then slit. The fruiting bodies -- the mushrooms! -- will seek the oxygen in the room, so they'll grow out of the slits we cut in the bags. In the future, we're excited to have separate fruiting rooms for each variety, but for now, our mushrooms share a room (like Brett and Derek did when we were growing up!) and they get placed within that room where they're happiest in relation to the light and humidity. 

11:30 - Inoculate substrate. Substrate is the media our mushrooms grow on; we use a 50/50 blend of hardwood and soy hulls mixed with fresh well water. To inoculate the bags of substrate, we add grain spawn previously inoculated with mycelium. We work in a clean lab in front of a laminar flow hood, wearing gloves and masks to keep everything sterile. One little mold spore getting into the mix could cause big problems. After the grain spawn is added to the substrate, we re-seal the bag and mix it up for even distribution. 

12:30 - Make more substrate. This is the grunt-iest of the mushroom grunt work we have right now. It involves a lot of heaving heavy bags, shovel mixing, scooping, and cleaning. We fill unicorn bags with six pounds of substrate each, shape them into blocks, fold and wrap them into nice little packages. We load the bags of substrate into our big steam barrel to be sanitized, which takes 18+ hours to run through a full program. After they cool, they're ready to be inoculated to start the next grow cycle. 

1:30 - Farmers market prep. Time to stamp bags and boxes, print and cut recipe cards, and wrap Spent Mushroom Substrate bags. We love to provide our wonderful customers with a great mushroom shopping experience: cute, recycled packaging that can be re-used, recycled and composted; and complimentary recipes to make make sure you know how simple it is to cook with our delicious mushrooms. 

2:30 - Time to wrap it up! We're off to take babies for naps, drive big kids to practices, and take care of the rest of the non-mushroom business in our lives. 

Thanks for joining us for a day at Cellar Mushrooms! Whether you're one of our regular market customers, or an interested onlooker, we're thankful to have you here with us!


Your Cellar Mushrooms team

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