People have harvested wild mushrooms for thousands of years,
yet more than 50 percent of the mushrooms we consume in the U.S. are commercially
grown in the Chester County area of Pennsylvania. According to local lore, in the late 1800s
Quakers started growing mushrooms indoors, where all the environmental inputs could
be controlled. Historically, though, for
at least the past 1,000 years people have cultivated mushrooms outdoors, mainly
on the mushroom’s preferred substrate, cured green logs. The forest farming technique has become more
popular in the U.S. since the early 1980s, when suppliers enabled a few fungi
farmers to start inoculating their own logs for mushroom production to feed the
demand from expanding tastes for new, healthy cuisines from around the world.
Paul Lagreze is a mushroom farmer/educator from
Colrain. He has grown and foraged
mushrooms in this area for over 25 years.
He has taught mushroom foraging and cultivation courses at GCC and UMass
Amherst for the past seven years.