Dr. Peter Vila, an associate professor of environmental and physical sciences and Veterans to Agriculture program director at Shepherd University, spoke passionately as he described the first time he ate a mushroom.

“The mushroom I ate was a chanterelle from North Carolina,” he said. “It was a field of beautiful, yellowish chanterelles up in the pines. It was ecstasy having those mushrooms.”

Colleague Dr. Brooke Comer, a visiting assistant professor of environmental and physical sciences, laughed as she shared her story, too. She and her husband were camping in the Cascades ways out when they came across a group of local mushroom hunters, one taking the time to pass on some wisdom and advice.

The pair will be bringing that passion to the Shepherd University Agricultural Innovation Center at Tabler Farm with the introduction of workshops and classes related to mushroom growing, thanks to a $12,000 grant from the West Virginia Department of Agriculture Veterans and Heroes to Agriculture grant program.

Vila explained that it adds another tool to the box for those working at the farm and working with the farm as the program is one more module in an effort to create a circular economy. The duo said the goal is to provide avenues for higher economic benefit instead of relying on outside sources.

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