Before we set out on our wild mushroom excursion in the forests of Holland, we wanted to do a little research on a different way of getting mushrooms, growing them ourselves!
This was our first research excursion to prepare for our exhibition, and we headed to the towns of Hedel and Rossum to visit Bert Rademakers at CNC Exotic Mushrooms and Geert-Peter de Rijk at Paddestoelenrijk.
Bert told us that cultivated mushrooms fall into two categories, either 'wood-loving' or 'compost-loving'. This means that some mushrooms grow best in a bed of compost, while other mushrooms grow best in a substrate mixture of sawdust and a variety of growth nutrients.
Shitake mushrooms, the ones that Bert deals with the most, are 'wood loving'. He gave us a tour of the entire process of making the substrate for the shitake mushrooms, and we were able to see the process of the mushroom spores growing inside the substrate, before being shipped off to the growers! The process of innoculating the substrate mixture with the spawn is the most delicate part because you need a very sterile environment, or else the mixture will get contaminated. We even got to see one growth bag with mushroom-spores fighting off green mold spores!
For more details about the entire process, go here.
Growing mushrooms is a three-step process: first you get the spawn, then you innoculate the proper substrate with the spawn, and then you grow the mushrooms in the right environment to get maximum growth. Bert told us that they get their spawn from Mycelia in Belgium. Although we couldn't make it all the way to Belgium on this trip, we were able to visit a mushroom grower around the corner that uses the substrate mixtures that Bert produces, Geert-Peter at Paddestoelenrijk.
Geert grows a huge variety of exotic mushrooms and supplies the organic markets of Amsterdam with all the delicious varieties. He took us on a tour of all the different mushrooms he was growing, and we got to sample little bits along the way. It was amazing to taste the differences in the mushrooms and we even got to try a new variety of mushroom, originally from Brazil, that tasted like almonds! The mushrooms looked really magical, and almost other-worldly, as you can see from the pictures below.
This was a really wonderful beginning to the Paddenstoelen Paradijs that will begin to grow at Mediamatic.