Cultivating cultures: Tahoe Mushroom Company opens

Laney Griffo
Kyle Woodland is cultivating several types of mushrooms to sell locally. (Laney Griffo / Tahoe Daily Tribune)

SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. — One South Lake Tahoe man turned his love for mushroom hunting and interest into cultivating a new business.

After months of cultivating mushrooms in a lab, Tahoe Mushroom Company is open for business, selling mushrooms at farmer’s markets and local restaurants, as well as selling mushroom grow kits.

Kyle Woodland, founder of Tahoe Mushroom Co., moved to South Lake in 2008. He learned about the opportunity to hunt for morel mushrooms, a highly coveted type of mushroom in the basin.

“It was about 2017 when I went out and found my first one and from there it just turned into an addiction,” Woodland said.

After seriously hunting mushrooms for three years, Woodland decided to turn that passion into a business and came up with the idea of cultivating his own.

Mushrooms, such as morels or chanterelles, are known as mycorrhizal mushrooms, which means they have a symbiotic relationship with the roots of trees and wild plants that they grow. Their unique growing habitats make them highly sought after and can come with a hefty price tag when purchased at stores.

Tahoe Mushroom Company uses a hardwood sawdust supplemented in a moist, warm environment to recreate outdoor growing conditions in a more sterile environment.

Woodland purchased several strains of culturals from a company called Fungi Perfecti, which has been helpful as Woodland launches his company. Much like yeast, the culturals can multiply infinitely as long as they remain sterile.

He takes part of a culture and blends it with sterilized water, which is mixed in with a honey and water solution. For three to seven days, the mycelium, or fungal threads, will grow using the sugar water.

Once it’s grown enough, the water will be poured into a bag of sterilized grain. After the mycelium takes over the grain, Woodland pours a cup or two of that mixture into a bag of sterilized sawdust, oak pellets, soy hull and wheat bran.

Those bags are placed in a temperature controlled room and Woodland waits for the fruits of his labor.

“Once the mycelium has won the battle, there’s not much we need to do,” Woodland said.

The mushrooms take about two months to grow. (Laney Griffo / Tahoe Daily Tribune)

When the bag is fully colonized, he’ll cut a little hole and the mushrooms will grow towards the oxygen. The process, from start to finish, takes about two months.

He is currently growing lion’s mane, pioppinos, black pearl king trumpets and “Tahoe” blue oysters. Down the road, he’ll be adding maitake, shiitake and enoki to the mix, as well.

Woodland’s lab is behind Advanced Garden Supply. Not only were they instrumental in helping him find a space but they will also be selling his grow kits. He’ll be selling the mushrooms to local restaurants, as well as at farmer’s markets, including at Meyers Mountain Market.

There are many benefits of growing mushrooms. Most of the ingredients are recycled. The soy hull is a byproduct of the soybean, the honey for the sugar water is sourced locally, and the sawdust comes from local furniture shop Mez Works. He will also be using the spent sawdust mixtures as compost.

Tahoe Mushroom Co. will be selling mushroom grow kits. (Laney Griffo / Tahoe Daily Tribune)

In addition, Woodland is excited about the health benefits of the mushrooms. Alzheimer’s Society has looked at a possible link between mushroom consumption and protection against cognitive decline. Research has also been done to show a link between mushrooms and higher functioning immune systems.

Woodland has quite the green thumb. He loves growing and says his house is full of plants.

“If I can keep growing something that’s healthy and going to bring good food to the community, I’m super excited about it,” Woodland said.

To learn more, follow Woodland on instagram @tahoemushroomcompany.

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