2017 Spring Network Gathering

Author: 
Ben Hill

Bear’s head, oysters, and chestnuts sauteéd with just a bit of butter, salt and pepper: sampling these delicious mushrooms was a highlight of last month’s spring network gathering at the NH Mushroom Company in Tamworth. Over 30 people joined us for an entertaining and eye-opening tour with Eric and Stephanie at their production facility in Tamworth. We learned about the entire production process, from inoculation to harvest, and observed the fruiting habits of five different mushroom species. Eric pointed out that NH Mushroom Co. only cultivates saprophytic (i.e. decomposer) mushrooms, which do not include common morel and truffle species. After the tour, Eric brought out four species he had recently sauteéd in a wood-fired oven, which was fabulously re-constructed in a used horse trailer. We were amazed at the different flavor profiles each species expressed and how such simple preparation (butter, salt, pepper) could yield such deep and complex flavor. After sampling the mushrooms, we asked questions about mushroom production, their business model, and the challenges associated with a young business growing rapidly. Eric talked about growing pains and the large production gap that exists between small and midsize mushroom businesses. These obstacles to growth and viability are common for small agriculture and food businesses in NH, and underscore the importance of a coordinated network working to find solutions for entrepreneurs in our state. We also had a large block of time for unstructured networking, where new and seasoned network partners were able to connect and talk about their interests and work. Attendees represented local farms, Land for Good, Farm Credit East, USDA NASS, and UNH Extension among others. We were also lucky enough to meet New Hampshire Mushroom's neighbor Will Robinson of Dube & Robinson. Dube and Robinson is a small winery specializing in handcrafted meads and ciders based. Since 2014, they have been creating delicious beverages using locally grown, sometimes wild, fruit. Will showed us their latest bottled ciders; classic dry, oak-aged, and cranberry. This was true delight, and network gathering attendees were excited to bring home some local cider and mushrooms for their friends and families. We’ll organize another network gathering this summer. Stay tuned!