This is a guest post from travel bloggers and Fungi Academy volunteers www.TakeEachDay.com.
Mushroom cultivation workshop at Fungi Academy
Every Tuesday, high in the hills above Lake Atitlan, the Fungi Academy holds a mushroom cultivation workshop. Our mission is to educate and inspire an international crew of budding shroomers in the art of cultivating their own fungi. You don’t need any prior knowledge to attend, just a desire to know more about mycelium and start your own mushroom making.
What’s involved in the mushroom workshop?
The mushroom cultivation workshop is in two parts. First, a morning session to get acquainted with these amazing organisms and learn about the theory behind cultivating mushrooms. In the afternoon, there’s a practical session where you can test out different growing methods in the lab.
In the classroom
You couldn’t ask for a more picturesque classroom than the yoga room at Fungi HQ with its panoramic views over the lake. Here is the perfect setting to learn about the fascinating role of mushrooms within our ecosystem. To begin, the session explores the symbiosis that exists between mycelium and every species of plant and animal life on earth.
Mushrooms are the original proponents of the ‘See food, eat it!’ diet. These incredible organisms can eat pretty much anything. In fact, there are varieties of mushroom that can digest stone (perhaps even providing a theory for the origin of biological life on our planet). Last year, scientists discovered a variety of fungus living in the Amazon that can survive solely on polyurethane plastics. And that’s not the only way that mushrooms could save our planet.
Did you know..?
Here are just a few of the incredible facts you’ll discuss in detail at the mushroom workshop:
- The largest known organism on earth is a mushroom! The parasitical honey fungus Armillaria solidipes in Oregon is the size of 1,665 football fields and has completely devoured the surrounding forest.
- The terrifying cordyceps mushroom infects colonies of ants turning them into ‘zombies’ that climb up as far as they can. Once they have reached their destination, the cordyceps sprouts nightmarishly from the ant’s head. From here, they begin to infect and wipe out entire colonies.
But these examples only highlight the role of mushrooms in our ecosystem: to regulate species and ensure that that none can become too powerful. Indeed, experts refer to the ‘internet’ of mushrooms that underpins nature, sending nutrients through ecosystems to ensure all plants and animals have what they need.
In The mushroom workshop lab
After a hearty community lunch (usually vegan fare here at the Academy) the students have the chance to get their hands dirty in the lab. In fact, they will spend a lot of the time getting their hands clean and sterile – one of the crucial elements required to cultivate mushrooms in a lab environment. The highlight is trying to create a mycelium culture grow jar with your disembodied, gloved hands floating around inside the sterile box. It’s a great challenge for your coordination skills!
One of the best things about the workshop is seeing how achievable growing mushrooms back home could be. With a little investment in the right kit and some practice, you’ll learn how your spare room, shed or attic could yield a nice little crop.
As nature intended
The final lesson for the day is how to cultivate mushrooms in a natural environment. In reality, this test is a little more physical. First, students need to drill a small hole into a log, then fill it with culture before sealing with a little beeswax. This method is easier in the sense that the environment doesn’t need to be sterile. But the results require a little more patience. The log will start to grow fruit – the mushrooms themselves – in a year.
Join the fungus among us!
What are you waiting for? Our mushroom cultivation workshop is held every Tuesday at 11am. It’s open to anyone who wants to attend. Just get in touch with us and book a spot. Your fungi journey starts here!