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There’s a Fungus Among Us…. Mushroom Growing with the Fungus Underground

February 25, 2011



Its what every Off the Grid Socialite dreams of….Monday morning outdoor class with fungi…well not quite, MYCELIUM to be exact.  According to the Fungus Underground ( and I don’t mean the growth in your basement or your ingrown toenail gunk) a grassroots collective of mushroom enthusiasts, claim that mushrooms have existed for over 420 million years and during this time founded an incredibly expansive and sustainable eco system.  And I quote, one might equate them to a humble janitor cleaning up after the big party that is life on our planet.  Mycelium, as an intricate web, are located on the floor of the forest and measure about one cell wall thick.  And yet like our own web 3.0 super system, the primordia (hubs in the mycelial web), hyphae ( sprout like arms) and spores ( carrier of genetic material) crowd source and use a kind of nature based viral marketing strategy to create a “clamp connection” between opposite genetic hphae which means in layman’s terms that Mycelium or the base of mushrooms can sign on to their “internet” or world wide web and visit servers, exchange  information, upload and dowload all relevant materials neccessary for sustaining life as quickly as we can google it.  Its all really quite fascinating that such an ecosystem exists right under our noses, in our own backyards if you will.  It almost implies, no.. wait.., urges us to study micro habitats as a blueprint for creating sustainable healthy plans for our larger environment including urban areas.

So by 11am all this talk of mycelium has made me hungry, for mushrooms that is, because you see, like a fruit tree, mycelium ( fungi) functions are analogous to fruiting plants and its result- MUSHROOMS.  And well not only do my 3 sons laugh at how mushrooms make it in to almost any and every dish I make, but upon learning how easy it is to propogate them, I became increasingly excited about near future possibilities.  As I sat writing this commentary on what Off the Grid SOCIALITES spend time doing, I realized that I was asked a very important question by a man named MUD Baron, School Gardens and Urban Agriculture Development Czar,  who visited Gris Gris Lab and that is, ” What is a plant or living organism’s main purpose on the planet?” and after chuckling to myself, using my own African sensibility and cellular memory, I answered, ” to survive and reproduce”   And so if this complex web can survive and reproduce for over 420 million years, thats more than enough time to be considered a credible and worthy subject in my book. 

Noah and Boi, our gracious and knowledgable teachers of mushroom growing went over the steps of mushroom imprinting, materials needed ( not much more than dowels, straw, plastic bags or containers like mason jars, wood sources like wood chips and perhaps some kind of simple grain) and the actual technique to share the specific mushroom imprint on a piece of salvaged moist cardboard and the patience it takes for life to reproduce.   And with this knowledge, I realized that mushroom growing could very well be a space efficient and inexpensive  part of my apothecary at The Lab  I imagined creating special reishi and shitake tinctures and vinegars that are incorporated into one of my many receipes for my “Food as Medicine Lifestyle”. 

All this in less than 2 hours on a Monday morning … and afterwards I was left to my own devices, some of which involved chatting with Pam Broom ( Women and Agriculture Network) and  MUD about his days as a migrant farm worker and jotting down ideas for Gris Gris Lab’s greatest medicinal cocktails…. which you will have to stop by and taste for yourself. 

Cool Facts about Mushrooms according to :

~ The mycelium web is capable of efficiently decomposing dead organic matter, transferring nutrients and moisture from one plant to another and killing overpoulated or damaged plants to make way for new life.

~ Mushrooms are low in calories, have no cholesterol and are virtually free of fat and sodium

~Mushrooms also contain other essential minerals like Selenium, which works with Vitamin E to produce antioxidants that neutralize “free radicals” which can cause cell damage.

~Wild mushrooms can range in price for reasons such as taste, historical significance and availability. European truffles can sell for over $1,600 per pound


The Gris Gris Lab version of the SHROOMTINI

2 oz mushroom infused vodka
2 oz fresh lemon
1 oz simple syrup
1 oz vanilla liqueur 

 1 dropper of reishi mushroom tincture

*to infuse vodka with mushrooms add 3 sliced portabella mushrooms to 750 ml bottle vodka allow to infuse for 1 month.
*simple syrup is fifty percent water fifty percent sugar mixture, add your own social magic- wink, wink!

 And as I like to remind people of my quote for the year, ” The universe has got my back!”


Love and Light from the Off the Grid SOCIALITE- Gia ” Skywalker” Hamilton

One Comment leave one →
  1. melisma permalink
    March 14, 2011 8:12 pm

    I was wondering where you took this class, I’ve been looking for a class on mushroom growing and have had little success. It sounds super fun.

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