Thursday, August 21, 2014

Unity Farm Journal - 4th week of August 2014

Over the past week, the combination of rain and cool Fall-like temperatures caused our 165 shitake logs to fruit, resulting in over 50 pounds of fresh mushrooms.   We inoculated 5 tons of oak logs last August and throughout the year have had a few pounds to deliver to local farm stands.   We really did not know if our work would be successful, since this is our first effort at growing mushrooms to commercial scale.   We’re guided by this excellent research paper which illustrates how a family can create a 500 log Shitake operation yielding $5000-$10000 in farm income per year.

Now that we know that the combination of our Unity Farm oak, local environment, weather, spawn, and techniques resulted in successful production, we’ll turn our attention to the marketing details - how to package/label them, how to deliver them to local customers, and how to price them.   This year, we’ll dry some and sell some fresh.   We’ve also contacted two local tree maintenance companies, agreeing to take delivery of any fallen/trimmed oak trees and branches to expand our operation.  

I moved the logs from the shade house where they had their spawn run to the laying yard in the forest where they’re leaned upright on wooden stands and are easier to pick.   Our mushroom farm is off and running!    The 100+ Oyster logs will start to fruit in late September and October, so Unity Farm might even become the site of a first in the country “Mushroom” Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) site.

Our apples and other fruit trees are nearly ready to pick.   Our heirloom cider apples will yield commercial quantities in a few years, but  this year we’ll have enough for early cider experiments.   The hard cider we made last year is now fully mature and I’m confident in my cider making skills and the process I’ve chosen which is very similar to making a full bodied Chardonnay.

The hoop house fall plantings have sprouted and we’re expecting to harvest greens, root vegetables, and broccoli through December.

Still no cria - Mint, our pregnant alpaca is enormous and clearly ready to deliver.  Maybe labor day weekend will finally bring labor and delivery.

This weekend includes herd health and all the usual medical care of our herds/flocks, preparing the bees for Fall (it’s nearly time to harvest honey), and some of the final trail maintenance before the leaves begin to drop.

I’m going to try to take off a long Labor Day weekend to enjoy the fruits of our labor - harvest time on the farm makes all the work of Summer worthwhile.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for the update, Mr. Halamka. As always your photos and descriptions are absorbing. Here's to a healthy cria!

MargaretJ said...

It would be great to know where we could purchase your mushrooms once you've decided.