Rebecca Minna | Shelton, Washington
Although I was already excited – Skokomish Ridge Mushrooms Growers Cooperative more than exceeded my expectations! Last week, on a gorgeous winter afternoon, I pulled into the Sanderson Field Airport Business Center to visit a mushroom farm. While the sun beamed, without a cloud in the sky, hip-hop beats boomed from inside Skokomish Ridge Mushrooms’ large warehouse. The owner, Rebecca Minna, greeted me with a big smile and invited me into a labyrinth of organic mushroom cultivation, taking me to an entirely new world.
Rebecca and her family opened this Shelton Washington gourmet fungi farm a year and a half ago. Let me tell you, it is thriving. Initially, they planned on growing mushrooms in her daughter’s big, empty barn. However, Jacob, Rebecca’s son, struck a lifetime opportunity. While chitchatting with a local, he discovered that Bob Ames was ready to sell his fully certified organic mushroom farm down the road. So Rebecca put the funds together and purchased Bob’s farm to run as a family business.
As I mentioned: expectations exceeded, mind blown! It all starts in the lab where Jacob makes grain spawn, isolates strains, inoculates blocks, etc. Then, he sets the inoculated grow bags in the incubation area. This area alone is a forest, shelf after shelf, of hundreds of mycelium blocks producing multiple mushroom species. It even extends to the other side of the facility.
Just when I thought it couldn’t get any better, we entered the cereal oasis, the fruiting tents. Blooming and blossoming were patches of King Trumpets, Blue Oysters, Maitake, and their biggest producing fungus shiitake. Each mushroom block has a different story. Some last longer than others. For example, the Blue Oyster blocks allow up to five flushes. Jacob further explains:
“The first flush is going to be the biggest. It’s going to be the best you get out of it. Everything from there is going to be a little little bit stranger, a little bit smaller. We can usually get three flushes on the Lion’s Mane. We can only really get two from the King Trumpet, and we only really get one from the Maitake.”
Skokomish Ridge’s bread and butter are the Shiitake. Jacob and Rebecca mimic a tree by stacking and skewering the blocks, making it easy to spin and pick as they grow. They can use them repeatedly by simulating seasonal transitions with the “log”: – or the block stack. This mushroom absolutely loves this truly incredible farming technique. Rebecca is doing her best to keep it real; “So I mean mushroom production is just doing your best to try to mimic what nature does for them. So which is essentially why we made it into kind of trees.” Resting then soaking the skewered blocks causes the mycelium to freak out, wake up and make fruit again. Too cool!
Skykomish Ridge has done very well and is moving into a different market. They will create their own proprietary blend of substates for fellow mushroom farmers or hobby farmers. The vision is to partner with Blue Circle Farms in this venture and sell substrates all over the United States. Brandon, an owner of Blue Circle, has been in the mushroom industry for 30 plus years. He is also family and had a hand in Skokomish Ridge Mushrooms’ growth.
Jacob and Rebecca are incredibly passionate about mushrooms. They love their job and being able to give back to the community. In the near future, they are looking forward to being able to drop their second jobs and focus solely on the mushrooms. Rebecca regularly urges people to enjoy, “mushrooms are highly beneficial. They have so many nutrients, and right now, when we have this COVID going around, they are the number one thing for immunity. So eat more mushrooms.”