US (MN): Aiming to be the mushroom hub of the Midwest

Facing the nondescript brick facade outside New Hope Farmacy, you'd never guess that within the building lies the largest indoor mushroom farm in the country. Also inside is a small team with big visions for this fungi operation in suburban Minnesota. 

"It feels like we are on a volcano that's about to erupt," says CEO Mohamed Sewidan, referring to the fast-growing fascination with mushrooms in pop culture, medicine, and beyond. He tosses a lab coat over his suit as we enter the massive metallic complex that houses 20 temperature-controlled rooms for growing, a lab, and a 40-foot-long tube used for sterilization. 

A steady mist showers shelves full of sprouting, brownish-grey mushrooms in the first grow room. "These are shiitake," Sewidan says, pulling down a block to show off the shaggy-capped mushrooms popping out of it. "They look nice, but they are very hard to grow."

Depending on the species, the recipe for success is complex, explains farm manager Joe Hance, eyeing the block with a mix of delight and frustration. "Shiitake lives in three or four different stages, and if at any point you screw up, it's ruined, period." These are their best shiitake blocks yet, but Hance wants them fully covered in fruiting mushrooms. His face turns to just delight when we find a shiitake mushroom fused atop another and somehow growing upside down. 

Read the complete article at MSP Mag


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