If you’ve never pondered the good looks of a mushroom, you probably haven’t seen the ones that Elizabeth Almeida grows. Some look like those in fairy tales. Almeida cultivates organic mushrooms indoors on blocks of sawdust for her Westford company, Fat Moon Farm. The blocks are inoculated with mycelium, or the hairlike tendrils of the fungus. They then incubate for seven days to three months, depending on the strain. The setting mimics the natural environment where mushrooms thrive. Almeida grows varieties — lion’s main, oyster, chestnut, pioppino, and shitake — she sells largely to chefs, but also to selected grocers and farmstands. The sculptural oyster mushrooms and the lion’s mane, with a coat like a puppy, are the most striking. Almeida grew up on a farm and foraged for mushrooms as a child; her work resonates with her life experience. But surprisingly, and even without a green thumb, you can also grow mushrooms with a grow kit — and Almeida offers these too. The kits are inoculated with the mycelium and already incubated. Spraying frequently with water, you watch the fungi quickly emerge — from a pinhead to fully formed clusters that can later top a pizza or give depth of flavor to a pasta dish. “We do the first two steps, and our customers do the last — fruit and harvest,” says Almeida. She also holds Zoom classes to mentor budding mycophiles. Interest in her kits has surged this year as people seek the adventure of growing something to create delicious meals, she says. “Sourdough bread is 2020. Grow kits are 2021.” Fat Moon Farm mushrooms are available at Verrill Farm, 11 Wheeler Road, Concord, 978-369-4494; Debra’s Natural Gourmet, 98 Comm. Ave., West Concord, 978-371-7573; Idylwilde Farms, 366 Central St., Acton, 978-263-5943, or at fatmoonmushrooms.com, where you can also buy grow kits and get the schedule for Zoom classes.
ANN TRIEGER KURLAND
Ann Trieger Kurland can be reached at email@example.com.