Canada's indoor vertical mushroom farm takes off

Posted Jan 26, 2019 by Tim Sandle
An new agricultural operation has taken off in Canada — the Gruger Family Fungi in Nisku. This is Canada’s first vertical mushroom farm. The facility specializes in tree-loving mushrooms.
File photo: Mushrooms — Pleurotus populinus  Pennsylvania  USA.
File photo: Mushrooms — Pleurotus populinus, Pennsylvania, USA.
Jim Tunney
As reported in the Edmonton Journal, the Grugers have transitioned from farming their first mushrooms in a converted shipping container to, just three years later, producing some 12,000 pounds of mushrooms per month at their Nisku facility - a startup called Family Fungi.
The fungal farm grows 10 different kinds of mushroom. Some are manufactured to eat whereas others are medicinal varieties. The types of mushrooms grown are not the ones that most consumers are used to purchasing at their local store, so no portobello or button mushrooms. A review in City Farmer describes one variety - pink oyster mushrooms (genus Pleurotus) - as having a smoky, bacon-like flavor.
The video below provides a behind-the-scenes glimpse of the mushroom growers in action:
To grow three-loving mushrooms means growing many of he mushroom varieties vertically. For this the farm has various types of scaffolding in place. To enhance the process, the next stage is an artificial tree, according to co-founder Bev Gruger. The startup is also experimenting with different types of mushrooms and working on achieving optimal climate conditions for the fungi to grow.
There are six steps to mushroom cultivation:
1. Making mushroom compost
2. Finishing the compost
3. Spawning
4. Casing
5. Pinning
6. Cropping
Gruger explains this side of the activity: "We call this a research facility because nobody’s ever done this — there’s no book. What works in this room for this mushroom, might not work for this mushroom in this room. People don’t realize there’s a lot of science going on behind the scene."