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Lake Country woman develops love for fungi, starts gourmet mushroom farm

FILE PHOTO - Oyster mushrooms
FILE PHOTO - Oyster mushrooms
Image Credit: PIXABAY

A Lake Country woman decided to try a new business venture after her designated driving service took a hit amid the pandemic.

Tonya Edwards owns a designated driving service in Lake Country but when the pandemic began, business dropped. With some health conditions, she was also looking for ways to be healthier when she discovered the benefits of mushrooms and developed an interest.

Using helpful tips from various Facebook mushroom growing groups, she bought a $700 giant humidifier and set it up in her home on Newene Road and started the business even before she tasted an oyster mushroom.

Recently, Edwards acquired a business license for her Lake Country Gourmet Mushroom Farm.

She has lion’s mane and a whole variety of oyster mushrooms in the works, including pink oysters. “Vegans like to eat those, they call them vegan bacon bits,” she said.

The lion's mane tastes like seafood, she said, with a meatier flavour that can be made into things like crab cakes.

She will also have chestnut, enoki and maitake mushrooms available.

Her mushrooms sell out fast, with people requesting them on her Facebook page as fast as she can grow them, she said.

Edwards has a list of people waiting for lion's mane. Her next batch will be 200 bags of the mushrooms, well over 200 pounds, she said. It takes a few months before it's ready though, she said.

The mushroom spores grow in grain and that takes two to three weeks. Then the grains are moved to fruiting bags (or growing bags) and that takes a few more weeks, before they’re moved into a fruiting chamber, an enclosed space that growers use to mimic the conditions and environment. It can take a few weeks to a few months for the mushrooms to grow in the chamber before they're ready, Edwards said.

Edwards' dream is to grow her mushroom business and eventually rent a warehouse to house and grow them and supply local restaurants.

It definitely hasn’t been just vegan and vegetarians who are interested in mushrooms, she said. It’s been a popular venture with all demographics.

To get in touch with Edwards and her mushroom farm, visit her Facebook page here.

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