Local grows mushrooms for sale at farmers markets
By Monroe Roark
When you think of produce that is homegrown in Henry County, shiitake mushrooms might not be the first thing that comes to mind. But a local couple is making this delicacy available at the county’s own farmers market and other similar facilities in the region.
If you go to the Henry County Farmers Market, the only mushrooms you will find are from Shiitake Village, operated by Ginny Blount and her husband Vic in McDonough. They also sell them seasonally in Avondale Estates and year-round in Macon and Peachtree City.
Ginny Blount and her husband Vic grow mushrooms to sell at local farmers markets. Ginny is at the Henry County Farmers Market each Thursday at the Jason T. Harper Event Center in McDonough. Photo by Seth Jackson
How does one decide to grow mushrooms? For the Blounts it was partly due to geography.
“When I retired I wanted to do something,” said Ginny Blount. “Our property is almost all wooded so I looked up what could be grown under the trees. I learned that shiitake mushrooms can actually be grown on trees.”
They cut down a few trees and made logs for growing mushrooms. When the logs are cut in winter, holes are drilled for putting in spawn to allow mycelia to grow through the logs. After 12-18 months the first mushrooms will come up.
The process does not require a great deal of space. On the Blounts’ two acres, they have about 350 logs for growing as well as a 12-by-60-foot greenhouse and another building. Because the logs are seasonal, the greenhouse allow them to grow year-round by using substrate made out of hardwood sawdust which is put in bags and sanitized in pressure cookers. When mycelia colonizes an entire bag, it becomes a hard block or tiny log.
Originating in Asian countries, shiitake mushrooms are medicinal and very nutritious according to the Blounts. “They are up-and-coming gourmet mushrooms for chefs,” Ginny Blount added.
There are several growers in the region, most of which are large and sell in Atlanta or to wholesale vendors. Shiitake Village concentrates on what can be purchased by individuals at the local markets.
“We want to support farmers markets so people can learn about fresh food,” said Ginny Blount. “We just grow what we can for the markets.”
Doing that has become almost a full-time job for the couple, she added. “We didn’t know it would be this much work but it’s fine because we are retired and it keeps us busy.”
Their specialized product brings out a number of faithful customers, but there are dozens of other items available at the Henry County Farmers Market, open every Thursday 10 a.m.-2 p.m. at Heritage Park