Growers say that both mushrooms and locally grown ingredients are experiencing an upswing in popularity. So it’s not surprising that local mushroom growers are increasing their output by growing fungi indoors. “We have seen an increased interest in mushrooms from the culinary, and even fashion, standpoints. Plant-based, local, and nutritional options have become more and more popular,” according to Charles "Chip" Foote, founder of Flush with Mush, located on Milwaukee’s east side.
That's Flush, as in a crop of mushrooms or a state of being amply supplied, Foote said. Flush with Mush isn’t the only local operation with an eye on indoor mushroom growing. Crops on Top, an urban farm in Riverwest that sells fresh produce to chefs and consumers, has experimented with indoor mushroom crops and is planning to add more mushrooms to future production efforts, according to Joel Lichosik, who owns the farm with his wife, Jamie.
Flush With Mush grows both inside and out. “There are different challenges growing in both environments. Growing outdoors, you have to deal with nature, specifically fluctuating weather and wildlife. Indoors it is more difficult to maintain a sterile environment and regulate temperature and humidity," Foote said.
Flush with Mush’s fruiting chamber is an 8-by-8-foot room with fresh air access that is humidity-, temperature- and light controlled to provide optimal conditions for the mushrooms. “Every little thing can affect how the mushrooms grow. Lighting, temperature, and humidity are the biggest things that affect them. More fresh air, for example, leads to bigger oyster mushroom caps and smaller, shorter stems,” Foote said. “Different amounts of light will affect their color."
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