Growing mushrooms at Kennesaw State

Published in FSD Update

During a university tour, I saw the simple and fascinating process of growing shiitakes.

I’ve long believed in the adage, “You should learn something new every day.” One of the joys of this job is that it frequently puts me in touch with operators who, through their innovation, talent or simple desire to always improve, show me things I hadn’t known.

I had several of those moments during my visits in the Atlanta area earlier this month. But few were as fascinating as the mushroom “plot” I saw at Kennesaw State University (KSU).

I love mushrooms. I’ve seen them grow in the wild and I’ve been to a mushroom farm in Pennsylvania where they grow the white button mushrooms that are so prevalent in supermarkets and on chain restaurant menus.

But I’d never really given any thought to the commercial growing of exotic mushrooms such as shiitake, morel and portobello. So when I took a tour of the farm operated by Culinary and Hospitality Services (C&HS) at Kennesaw State University, I was intrigued to see the sign, heading a path that led off into the woods, advertising mushrooms.

I followed Gary Coltek, director of C&HS, Robin Taylor, Farm to Campus to Farm Manager, and Michael Blackwell, assistant farm manager, down the path to a row of logs, stacked against the horizontal trunk of a giant red oak. Popping out of the logs were shiitake mushrooms. Most were small, but there was one the size of a large portobello cap. Mike Blackwell explained the simple growing process:

“After letting the logs sit for a few weeks to make sure there are no fungicides left, you inoculate the logs [drilling holes and injecting spores into the holes using oak dowels] and wait.”

It takes several months for the spores to take hold, but once they do the mushrooms sprout rather quickly. Blackwell says that usually within two or three days the mushrooms are large enough to be harvested and used in KSU’s Dining Commons.

So now I know.

Keywords: 
sustainability

More From FoodService Director

Ideas and Innovation
condiments

It’s still true that diners want it their way. But the straightforward, choose-your-toppings Chipotle model is, as the kids say, so basic. The noncommercial diners of 2018 are coming to the table with expectations for meals that fit their personalized needs, from portion size to protein type, calories and more. Operators are responding by pushing beyond the basics with spice-your-own-soup bars, specialty condiment stations and serving size tweaks cooked a la minute.

For some operations, the next phase truly revs up the personal part of personalization, turning diners into chefs...

Managing Your Business
glendale senior dining catering

At the residential facilities Glendale Senior Dining serves, catered birthday and anniversary parties, summer barbecues and other private on- and off-site events give senior residents a convenient alternative to cooking themselves, Director of Business Development Todd Lindsay says.

For these events, Glendale, which serves locations throughout the Northeast and mid-Atlantic, will often tap employees from nearby units to take on catering events; and for weekend or summer engagements, it will reach out to the parent company’s school dining division for a few extra hands.

“We...

Industry News & Opinion
Shedd Aquarium White Sox Shedd The Straw

The Chicago White Sox have partnered with the Shedd Aquarium to support their “Shedd the Straw” initiative: a plan that the groups expect to curb the use of plastic straws by about 215,000 this baseball season.

Beginning on Earth Day, April 22, drinks at all dining locations throughout the Sox’s Guaranteed Rate Field will not be automatically served with plastic straws. Guests will be provided with biodegradable straws upon request. Guaranteed Rate Field is said to be the first in Major League Baseball to ban the use of plastic straws.

“At one of Shedd Aquarium’s local...

Industry News & Opinion

The Henry P. Kendall Foundation, a philanthropic group that aims to create a more sustainable food system in New England, has announced its creation of the New England Food Vision Prize .

The foundation is inviting foodservice leaders from colleges and universities throughout New England to submit their ideas on how to create a stronger food system that will help the region produce at least half of its own food by 2060.

Qualifying ideas must be collaborative and replicable, among other requirements. The foundation hopes that by reaching out to large food purchasers, like...

FSD Resources