Aside from being delicious and packed with nutrients, mushrooms play an incredible role in soil and forest ecology, and hold powerful medicinal properties that consumers are seeking. To assist the sustainable farmers who grow this delicious and healing food, we worked with experts to craft rigorous production standards and launched our mushroom certification in 2016.
The first growers to take advantage of our mushroom certification were Ron and Ginny Delaney of Tiny House Farm Augusta, in Upstate New York. They became interested in mushrooms while attending Vermont’s SolarFest in 2009. With further research and the assistance of Cornell University, they began a forest-grown shiitake operation. Ron and his family have plans to grow other varieties including Oyster, Wine Cap, and Lion’s Mane.
Along with their forest fungi, they grow ramps, black cohosh, fairy wand, and jack in the pulpit in their vibrant “forest farm.” They’re also reviving a dormant field by planting cover crops, garlic, and fruit trees, which they hope will improve the soil and overall health of their land.
They joined CNG because it better reflected their values, particularly their commitment to growing food for people in their own community. “While USDA certification is certainly a draw to supermarket consumers, many of the farmers we know still consider the associated paperwork and fees a headache not worth the stamp of the organic label. We’re the small guys. We want your trust and we are willing work to earn it. We want that direct relationships with our customers.”
Onatrue Farm in Port Townsend, Washington, has been CNG for Produce since 2016. They added a mushroom certification to their credentials as soon as it became available. Interestingly, they produce seasonal oyster mushrooms by using as a substrate - or growing medium - their own Certified Naturally Grown bean and corn stalks.
Photo from Mushroom Mountain (@sporeprints) on Instagram
Oyster mushrooms grow quite readily on just about any type of organic matter. But many mushroom producers rely on the byproducts of agricultural crops that are chemical intensive, like cottonseed hulls or soymeal, because they're cheap and readily available. These common practices are not allowed in CNG mushroom operations. CNG mushrooms are never grown on the byproducts of genetically engineered crops.
Are you curious about getting your mushrooms certified, or do you know a mushroom grower who could benefit from our program? Get in touch by clicking the red Contact Us button on this page. We think our certification could really ‘mushroom’ into a valuable option for fungi lovers everywhere.
Photo below from Fat Top Mushrooms, which is in the process of becoming Certified Naturally Grown