Fresh mushrooms and “curious treats" is how Laura Stewart, co-founder of Haw River Mushrooms and food startup Gnome Foods, describes the business she and her husband grew from the ground up.
Gnome Foods isn’t just pumping out specialty mushrooms for your stir-fries – it’s also working to crack the code on tasty meat alternatives by making “crab” cakes that use lion’s mane mushrooms instead of crustaceans.
And its ambitions are high. In an interview, Stewart walks us through how she went from teacher to farmer to entrepreneur – and what’s next for the homegrown startup in Saxaphaw that got its start at a Pittsboro Farmer’s Market 11 years ago.
Stewart was a teacher in Ohio when she met her future husband, Ches, at an Episcopal Church – a man with aspirations of being a farmer.
The meet-cute, which happened on Chet’s first day attending the church, would set the course for her entire life – and not just due to their eventual marriage. The pair decided to make the farm dream happen and started to scout areas with more moderate climates such as Tennessee and North Carolina. They knew they would need to work full time to fund their ambition, and Ches Stewart’s job offer in Greensboro made the decision easy.
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