US: Colorado Springs comedian's gourmet mushroom business expanding

Austen Brinker, a professional stand-up comedian, did a major pivot in early 2021 after the pandemic shut down entertainment venues. “That March I started getting serious about growing edible gourmet mushrooms,” he said. “It was a hobby I had started in college.”

That was 2015 when he was a student at the University of Colorado in Boulder, where he majored in finance and operations management. Fast-forward to 2022 and he is back to doing stand-up gigs — bringing along the mushrooms from his successful business to sell after the show.

What started in his garage has become an urban farm called Fungus Farm Colorado, located in a 1,600-square-foot office building on Fillmore Street. “It doesn’t take much space to grow mushrooms since the plants are placed on rolling vertical shelves,” Brinker said. “In the off season, I produce about 100 pounds a week. In the peak summer season, I can get about 200 pounds in this new space.”

He began selling them at farmers' markets — and he ramps up production in spring and summer in order to sell his products there. Now his customers range from vegans and chefs to small grocery stores.

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