Farewell, Mushrooms!

Sorry about the spoiler in the title, everyone…

Some of you may have heard the news already on our Facebook page.  After growing mushrooms for eleven years, Ralph and I have decided to phase out that part of our farm operation.  Yes, completely.  Yes, we’re going to miss the delicious mushrooms – although there are some available at a local market through another grower friend of ours.  No, we’re not going to change our mind (yes, I heard that one a few times!)flowermushroom

Anyone who has heard me talk about the mushroom operation, or who has followed this blog for the last 4 or 5 years knows that growing mushrooms is a 7 days-a-week commitment, much like having livestock.  Mushrooms (especially blue oysters) need to be picked on a daily basis.  New bags need to be innoculated weekly, and those that have finished their cycle need to be removed and composted.  There were deliveries to our wholesaler and to our local restaurants.  One of my favourite things to do – aside from eating them – was to attend weekly farmers’ markets.  I was at the Inglewood Farmers’ Market for 5 years, and the Elora Farmers’ Market for 3 years.  I loved being able to provide wholesome, locally grown, delicious mushrooms to my customers and to be able to engage in meaningful conversations about farming.  The friendships I made will remain with me long after the mushrooms are gone.

So why are we not growing mushrooms any more?  Simply put, Ralph and I were ready for a change and realized that we would like to do something that will allow us some time away from the farm occasionally.   As well, a competitive market and occasional blips in production gave us reasons to explore other possibilities. When our farm phased out the egg-grading station and laying hen operation close to 15 years ago, it was a huge decision and a big change for all of us.  And here we are again, ready for another change.

People have asked us, “So what are you going to do now?”  Well, for starters, we are going to continue growing exclusively non-GMO crops on our land.  Ralph has had much success with his heritage oats and is still developing his unique lines of open-pollinated corn.  We are getting more and more orders for our chicken feed for laying hens, and are working on a feed ration for meat birds, as well.  Although I am not going to be selling produce at the market anymore, I still have plans for a large garden and a greenhouse full of tomatoes, peppers and lettuces!  A roadside veggie stand is probably in the works….

And the big news is that we are going to be using the two barns in which we grew mushrooms for our new venture.  We are converting the space into indoor storage units, for everything from seasonal furniture, winter tires, vehicles, etc.  Our daughter, Natalie, has been helping to get everything ready, and she will be managing the enterprise once it is up and running, some time next month.  Stay tuned for details and the new website for Willow Tree Storage.

In the meanwhile, please keep visiting our blog.  I will continue to write about our adventures on the farm, and will try to offer insight into the many issues that affect agriculture today.  Thank you all for your support with our mushroom growing operation all these years.  It’s been a pleasure and a fabulous learning experience.  We’re looking forward to our next adventures!

With much gratitude,

Julie and Ralph

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10 responses to this post.

  1. Hi Julie! it all sounds very exciting! I’m just so glad we met you at the Elora market a couple summers ago:) I often talk to my clients about your mushroom endeavors as we use them as supplements in healing. We are finally getting some spring weather in Chicago and are getting out to plant! I am teaching aeroponic gardening with the tower garden this season, a new part of my health coaching… lots of fun, and easy,lots less work than mushroom growing!…..best wishes in your new adventures:)

    Reply

  2. Posted by Wendy McLellan on May 12, 2014 at 10:05 pm

    Hi Julie,
    The kids and I will miss seeing you at the market (they were already asking for you last week when the market opened at Bissel Park), but I see you already have some great new plans. I hope we’ll meet again on the “holistic” side with some lovely Reiki!
    Hugs,
    Wendy, Brennan and Kira

    Reply

    • Sorry I missed seeing you all – I was there for an hour, right at the opening, doing my shopping! I’m sure we’ll bump into each other at the market this summer. And I would love to share Reiki with you! Hugs to all of you xoxo

      Reply

  3. Posted by Pauline Belanger Faul on May 13, 2014 at 10:44 am

    Good for you..life is about adventure and change. I am sure whatever you do it will be wonderful and filled with great experiences.
    With your energy and the great aura you have ….you both will travel through your life becoming even better human teachers .
    Chow my friend;
    Pauline

    Reply

    • Thanks Pauline. Yes, life is certainly a journey, lots of lessons, lots of incredible experiences. Glad our paths crossed with the mushroom journey ! Julie xo

      Reply

  4. Great to read your blog again Julie. Mushrooms are a live, lively thing, you’re right…a lot like livestock. Just from my amateur mushrooming ventures in the woods here in Maine, I know that growing them must be very time consuming. Best to you in your new ventures.

    Reply

  5. Posted by Earnie Lim on May 23, 2014 at 8:02 am

    Hello Julie- Found you mushroom updates very interesting! So much so felt I had to send you a note to your Facebook address. While I will miss your mushroom updates looking forward to reading about your next adventure with Ralph.

    Reply

  6. Posted by Marc Keyton on December 26, 2016 at 3:07 pm

    Hi Julie my name is Marc
    I just recently have a gotten interested in growing mushrooms . I have been watching your videos and have learned a lot , now I have Learned that you are moving on to something else. Congratulations and good for you . Thanks for your great information and I will still be looking at your blog thanks again God bless .

    Reply

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