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Shiitakes for Everyone

Cougar Mountain Farm teaches how to grow mushrooms
Illustration by Trask Bedortha
Illustration by Trask Bedortha

Although people consider the downed trees from the recent ice storm to be an unfortunate and unsightly look around Eugene, Anna and Noah Wemple of Cougar Mountain Farm know of a sustainable use for the remnants. With the help of Jude Hobbs, permaculture expert, teacher and co-founder of Cascadia Permaculture Institute, the Wemples will host a Shiitake Mushroom Log Inoculation Workshop 10 am to 4 pm Saturday, March 15, at Cougar Mountain Farm, 33737 Witcher Gateway in Cottage Grove. Participants will leave with their own inoculated oak log.

Anna Wemple says the process is pretty simple. Participants will clean manageably sized oak logs and drill holes into the surface. The holes are then stuffed with mycelium-inoculated wooden plugs from Northwest Mycological Consultants, a Corvallis mushroom company. The logs begin producing mushrooms in 16 to 18 months, provided they are at the right temperature and receive the right amount of water, and will continue to fruit twice a year. The Wemples have seen logs produce mushrooms for 12 years. 

“It’s very cost-effective,” Wemple says. “If you have the space, the amount they produce outweighs the cost and labor.” Shiitakes can be difficult to find in stores and pricier than other mushrooms, but they do have many uses. Wemple says they can be dried, put in soups for flavor, used fresh for stir-fry or put on toast or rice. She also mentions the research of Paul Stamets, a renowned mycologist, which found that shiitakes have the strongest health benefits, including helping slow cancer growth and correcting sexual malfunction.

This workshop is part of Cougar Mountain’s fundraising efforts to create the Oregon Permaculture Resort Center, an educational resort. The Wemples run a self-reliant farm with their own water and power sources and hand-built structures. They have a 1,000-tree apple orchard, produce wine and cheese and practice compost and vermiculture. In the past, they have led tours and free work parties to create hands-on learning experiences. The Wemples want to spread through the community knowledge of more self-reliant living, and they are collaborating with Hobbs to create a curriculum and schedule for classes and workshops with hopes of starting this summer. The effort to build the resort center is a multi-year process.

The log inoculation event includes a gourmet farm-grown lunch. To register, contact cascadiapermaculture.com or cascadiapc@gmail.com.