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Food Power Program

Mushroom Room

In Martha’s Mushroom Room sit oak and black maple logs we’ve inoculated with mushroom spores.  Within the year the logs will fruit and shiitake mushrooms will grow. When ready for harvesting, the mushrooms go to our Choice Marketplace food pantry for distribution. 

Each log will produce mushrooms for about as many years as the diameter of the log. While we are growing mushrooms to expand fresh food options for distributions at our pantry, this station also provides opportunities for all of us to learn more about how to grow mushrooms as well as about the importance of fungi to our natural systems. 


 Fungi are important decomposers in ecosystems. They make sure that dead plants and animals are broken down into smaller molecules that can be used by other members of the ecosystem.   We are learning more about the importance of fungi within forests. They help break down the materials in stressed and dead trees as part of a complex nutrient cycle that is vital to regeneration and a healthy forest ecosystem.   It has also been discovered that trees and fungi have a symbiotic relationship. Fungi form white, thread-like colonies on tree roots. Trees give carbon to the fungi in the form of sugar. In return, fungi give trees essential minerals such as nitrogen and phosphorus.  We are currently growing shiitake mushrooms and will expand our selection over time.  Educational workshops are available on mushroom growing.   The program introduces fundamental concepts of fungi and discusses the differences between fungi, plants and animals, fungi’s importance in the ecosystem, and its importance to humans.    The program includes a safety section with mushroom identification as a primary component. A cultural component of our workshops also dispels common mushroom myths.