From Sawdust to Straw
So the first two towers we build were not the biggest successes. However, we intend to learn from the good and bad from each round of building. So based on what we learned from the last workshop, we made ourselves some research questions. The biggest thing we wanted to change was the substrate the mycelium was grown on. The substrate we had for the first workshop was sawdust. We prefer to have something with more substance, so we contacted one of the most prominent mushroom farmers in the Netherlands. He just so happens to grow his mushrooms and mycelium on straw. Straw is a very lovely substrate for us because it is already quite sturdy as it is. Add to this the strength that the mycelium brings, and you get an excellent material to build.
But before we could experiment, we needed new material to work. So I rented a van and drove to Uden, which is a little town somewhere in Noord-Brabant. There I visited the multiple warehouses of John Verbruggen, who was so kind as to provide us with material to experiment. Back in Amsterdam, we could start with some of the things we wanted to test.
First off, we put two blocks on top of each other, just how we received them. To see if they would grow together. Next up, we wanted to see if we could mould the material into smaller bricks that we then pressed. The main thing was seeing if they hold the shape and will grow together when connected. We also wanted to make bigger bricks that we pressed. For these bricks, we used varying sized pieces of mycelium to see if there was a difference in how they grow and the speed at which they grow.
In about 5-7 days, we will evaluate the different samples.
Follow the next blog post with our process: The Trials Continue