Mushroom cultivation is amazing

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					        Mushroom cultivation is amazing! Methods of cultivation range from the simple
to the complex. For the novice, mushroom patches can be purchased. Mushroom
patches are bags of substrate that will fruit after a few weeks of daily watering. Plugs
(mycelium coated dowels) allow the inoculation of logs, the preferred method for many
shelf fungi such as shitake…. If you live in an area near regular flushes of wild specie it
is possible to use stem butts to start a patch. For the more advanced grower, lab access
allows mushroom cultivation from spores. This method generates vigorous first
generation culture that can then be used to inoculate a chosen substrate. Substrate is
species specific and can range from manure to woodchips to logs. Having your own
mushroom patch allows you to reap the many benefits of the third kingdom.

Mushroom Permaculture Project

        In order to amplify the third kingdom’s presence on campus, we are growing a
mushroom garden. It will include four species: Trametes versicolor, Pleurotus djamor,
Ganoderma lucidum, and Hericium erinaceus. We will employ the plug spawn method,
using oak logs as the substrate. Mushroom cultivation has the potential to grow
exponentially once initial barriers to establishment have been surmounted. The site west
of the four winds café has ample space for expansion.

Cast of Species

       Hericium Erinaceus, Lion’s Mane

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        Hericium Erinaceus goes by many names, including lion’s mane, monkey’s head
bear’s head, old man’s beard, hedgehog mushroom, satyr’s beard, pom pom, and
yamabushitake. It is a white fungus with downward cascading spines. When cooked, H.
Erinaceus tastes like shrimp or lobster. Extracts of the mushroom have been shown to
have anti-tumor effects. In addition, nerve growth stimulant factor-compounds known as
erinacines and hericiones have been isolated from the mushroom. These compounds may
prove helpful in treating senility and Alzheimer’s disease. It is grown on logs in
traditional shitake style.

          Trametes versicolor, Turkey Tail

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          This specie is very common, occurring a wide range of climates throughout the
United States. This feature makes it particularly useful for cultivation in Florida because
it is fairly drought tolerant. Turkey tail is also very aggressive in culture and is easy to
grow from spores, logs or burlap sacks.
          Turkey tail is widely studied for its health benefits. Many studies have isolated
and commercially produced Krestin, an anticancer drug from the mushroom’s mycelium.
Turkey tail has also been shown to help the immune system by producing numerous anti-
bacterial agents. This attribute also makes Turkey tail extremely useful in the prevention
of blights (like Armillaria mellea, Honey Mushroom). When grown in burlap sacs, the
inoculated woodchips can act as a filter and remove various toxins from the environment
such as metals, organophosphates, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons and microbes. This
method is very effective because the mycelia respond to the toxins present in the
environment and secrete the necessary enzymes to break the compounds down for
          Trametes versicolor can be eaten in soup or brewed into a tea.

Pleurotus ostreatus, Tree Oyster
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        The Tree Oyster mushroom is also very common. Oyster mushrooms are often
used in cultivation, especially for beginners, because they are very quick to establish and
fruit. The oyster mushroom produces Lovastatin, a drug used to treat high cholesterol.

                      Reishi or Ling Chi (Ganoderma lucidum)

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     While Ganoderma Lucidum mushrooms are widely distributed it was only in Asia
that they received much acknowledgment and respect. Know as Reishi in Japan and Ling
Chi in China, references to these majestic mushrooms and their amazing properties are
found throughout the literature, art and culture of these two Asiatic nations. The use of G.
Lucidum can be traced back for at least two thousand years. These beautiful mushrooms
soon became revered throughout Asia. These mushrooms traditionally have been
attributed many wonderful medicinal properties in Asia, and modern medicinal research
has started to confirm that reishi does in fact contain many medicinally active
compounds. Reishi have been shown to stimulate the immune system, contain
compounds that can inhibit cholesterol synthesis, allergenic response and histamine
release. This wonderful mushroom contains very real potential to improve human health.
   We will grow reishi mushrooms on campus by inoculating hardwood logs with plugs
containing reishi culture, and allowing them to spread through the log. Their fruiting will
be induced by natural rainfalls, and will continue for several years without requiring any

Medicinal Value

         For thousands of years, the medicinal properties of mushrooms have been
employed by cultures throughout the world. However, the scientific study of medicinal
mushrooms began much more recently. Compared to many other research pursuits, the
medicinal properties of mushrooms is still in its infancy, but numerous findings about
their healing benefits support what ancient cultures knew thousands of years ago.
Medicinal compounds are continually being discovered and isolated from many different
mushrooms. Cyclosporin, a compound that enables organ transplant, was originally
discovered in Tolypocladium inflatum. Penicillin, the widely used antibiotic, was
discovered from a household staple: Penicilium the common bread mold. Medicinal
properties currently understudy are: anti-tumor agents, immune response stimulators,
anti-virals, anti-inflamatories, and nerve growth stimulators.
         Turkey Tail or Trametes versicolor is the source of Krestin, a popular anticancer
drug in Asia. By reducing cancer metastasis and increasing the production of interleukin-
1 in human cells Krestin reduces tumor growth. In addition to Krestin, a low-cytotoxic
poysaccharopeptide found in Turkey Tail is being researched as an antiviral agent with
applications in HIV treatment. Several other compounds have also been found to reduce
the proliferation of leukemia cells.
         Clinical studies of Lion’s Mane or Hericium erinaceus in China have shown that
when taken in pill form, it acts as an anti-inflamatory and extends the life of many cancer
patients. In Japan, studies have revealed that the mushroom’s production of erinacines
stimulate neural growth. These remarkable discoveries may pave the way for treatment
of Alzheimer’s disease and neurological trauma from strokes.
         The medicinal properties of Reishi or Ganoderma lucidum have been employed
for thousands of years. Throughout Asia, Ganoderma lucidum is heralded for many
effects including: treatment for altitude sickness, resistance and recovery from diseases,
its anticancer properties and as a more general health tonic. Clinical studies are focused
on a number of polysaccharides that stimulate the immune system, a compound that acts
as an anti-inflamatory, and an antiviral agent that reduces the replication of HIV infected
         The possibilities for alternative treatment options are enormous when fungi are
included. As research continues to discover new beneficial compounds and responses,
more effective disease treatment options will arise.

        Mushrooms are very nutritious. They are rich in protein, polysaccharides, and
antioxidants. They are a good source of many B vitamins, including riboflavin (B2),
niacin (B3), and pantothenic acid (B5), they also contain ergosterols, the precursor to
vitamin D. They are also high in dietary fiber. Mushrooms are also a good source of
essential minerals like selenium, copper, and potassium. They have a low fat content,
and completely lack cholesterol- as well as vitamins A and C.

Mushroom Recycling

   All mushrooms are heterotrophic, meaning that they, unlike plants, cannot
manufacture their own food. Many mushrooms do this by decomposing organic matter,
such as fallen logs, leaves and old food. Indeed, decomposition is one of the most
important roles that mushrooms play in an ecosystem. Decomposition allows nutrients to
cycle back into ecosystems, instead of keeping them locked up and unavailable for other
organisms. Mushrooms break down many different substrates and grow on them,
including wood, bamboo, coffee grounds, cotton waste, hair, yard debris, manure,
sugarcane bagasse, tea waste, and textiles. (Stamets, pg 156) This incredible assortment
of possible substrates demonstrates how versatile mushrooms are. It is possible for the
home grower to make a profit utilizing substrates that are conventionally regarded as
waste. This is also very beneficial environmentally, as it returns nutrients to ecosystems,
as opposed to containing them in landfills. Mushrooms can even grow on diesel and other
similar hydrocarbons, suggesting a use for mushrooms in ecosystem restoration and clean
up. Mushrooms are truly alchemists, turning garbage into gold!