Shiitake Happens (part 1)

Shiitake Happens: Growing Gourmet Mushrooms

We have some upcoming community workshops exploring several hands on methods of growing edible & medicinal mushrooms that are suited for all levels of experience. Learn how to get started growing & propagating Fungi while utilizing local ‘waste stream’ materials. REGISTER HERE > 

After these classes, we will publish photos and info about our process. Stay tuned!

Class 1: Intro & Shiitake Log Inoculation
Time: 1- 3pm
Date: Saturday July 9th
Class 2: Oyster Mushroom Cultivation 
Time: 6:30 – 8:30pm
Date: Wednesday July 13th
Class 3: Wine Caps (Garden Giant) Mushroom Beds
Time: 1-3pm
Date: Sunday July 23rd

Price: $10 – $15 a class / $30-$40 Series (pay what you can sliding scale)

Address: All Classes will be held at the Farmhouse, 3957 42nd Ave S, Minneapolis, MN 55406

Contact us for more info. REGISTER HERE >

Check out this video excerpt from the feature documentary by Louie Schwartzberg following notable mycologist, Paul Stamets, as he discusses the important role mushrooms play in the survival and health of the earth and human species.

DIY Seed Starting

For years as a gardener, I was intimidated by specialized and expensive equipment and always bought my plant starts but have realized how limiting and also expensive this can become; these days I am thrilled to be a part of the entire process of starting, growing and harvesting. You can save money, share the abundance of extra plants, and start unique varieties that are hard to find. In this short article, I would like to share my own home setup and some tips, resources, and related videos I have come across to help get folks started on this path of abundance.

Tips & Supplies for starting Healthy Plants

Seeds – So many types & varieties to choose from, check out some where local or search online. I recommend Seed Savers Exchange, High Mowing, Territorial Seeds, & Johnny’s Seeds


Soil – One area I don’t recommend cutting corners or being cheap – the mix should be nutritious to give your plants a great start they deserve and also help prevent disease. I am using a store bought organic mix of peat, perlite, vermiculite, & slow release fertilizer – Coconut Coir can also be used as an alternative to Peat .


Containers – Try and get creative before you buy anything new. People throw out or recycle all sorts of containers that could be used for starting seeds like cups, bottles, egg cartons, paper pots. Also give your local nursery or friends a call, they may have older plastic trays/pots for free. If you want to get advanced, you can get a soil block maker – soil blocks can help prevent transplant shock.


Water – Get soil moist before you fill your containers and plant (consistency of oatmeal). For doing it indoors, using a big plastic bag or tub can work great to mix things up. To keep things moist, I like to use a heavy duty paper towel (blue shop towels) I lay over the soil and keep moist until the seeds start to lift the towel from germination – as mentioned before this will only work with seeds that need darkness for germination so check your seed packet for more info. Mist soil when it becomes dry or if you’re using a planting tray or container with holes like mine you can dip into a larger container of water and bottom-water by soaking for a brief amount of time.

Heat – Find a warm spot to help speed up & increase germination (not too warm that the soil dries out quickly). I have mine setup near a radiator that I occasionally turn on. You can also buy/borrow heat mats or even try using rope lights coiled up under your trays – there are many paths to a similar destination.


Light – Some seeds need dark germination, some need light – be sure to check your specific seeds. Once germinated, 4ft Fluorescent Shoplights from your average hardware store can work great for a light source, just make sure you get 40watt ‘Full Spectrum’ light tubes – these aren’t high energy using lights. To use even less energy you can always pay a bit more and get LED lights. When you hang the lights up, shoot for being  1-2″ above the growing seedlings to ensure they get enough light – even better if you can find a sunny place during the day – I have large south facing windows so I don’t need light as much during the day. The amount of light per day depends on the plant, so look up specific info on what you are growing. When they start to get ‘leggy’ (tall & weak) it’s an indicator they aren’t getting enough. Using an automatic timer can also help you keep track, though not necessary.

Air – Once germinated, small fan or an open window with a breeze helps the plants grow stronger and can also help prevent dampening off rotting issues.

Shelf – Utility shelf works great, otherwise a good place you can hang your lights is all you need.


For more resources, videos, & tips see links below & sign up for our Newsletter. Stay tuned for the next steps – including hardening off and transplanting. Happy Germinating!


Here is a great video from the show Growing a Greener World that explains things quite thoroughly from basics to more advanced techniques:

Starting from Seed (Episode 605)

For seed starting supplies, I recommend shopping at a local owned nursery/garden store if possible – here are some options if you’re in the Twin Cities area:

Twin Cities Seed & MaterialsMother Earth Gardens, Eggplant Urban Farm Supply

Seed Starting Supplies Online

More detailed information about starting seeds from these sites:

Seed Starting Schedule

Simple & Frugal Seed Starting

Cheap Tricks for Staring Seeds


Posted in DIY

Building Resilient Relationships

“By applying the permaculture ethics, principles, and a similar design process that we use in our physical systems to our social systems we can get better at bringing about greater ease, functionality and mutual benefits in both our physical sites and social organizations and programs.”

Social Polycultures

“Just like we would design a polyculture for our forest gardens that are composed of plants that have beneficial relationships with one another we can use the same logic to create or hone what I am calling social polycultures. I am defining a social polyculture as an intentional working relationship between 2 or more people or organizations to support a given goal…By working well within an organization and collaborating across disciplines we can create more effective and lasting change.”

Read the complete Article Here >

Permaculture vs. Landscaping


Aesthetic Human-Focused Landscaping (the relatively new traditional way) Functional, Diverse & Native Focused Landscaping (Permaculture, or the old way of doing things). I found this short article that summarizes some crucial differences between Permaculture Design & Traditional Landscaping.

“…the maintenance of a large lawn will require frequent mows (a waste of energy, time and money), and, to keep its greenness, fertilizer (since we obtusely insist on bagging and wasting grass clippings), progressively impoverishing the soil. With high costs and absolutely no possible uses this yard does not have a very good cost-benefit relation.”


“…traditional landscaping’s primary goal is usually aesthetics and the design is optimized for things such as ease of maintenance, accessibility, privacy, costs, etc. However, traditional landscaping rarely bothers to include non-human uses in the designed environment. That is a big oversight – but one that creates a huge opportunities for permaculture designers.

Check the article out here >

Open Source Economy (Video)

“There are no passengers on Spaceship Earth, we are all Crew.

We came across this video on the Farm Hack blog and found the idea of a collaborative, open source, prototyping camp quite inspiring, check it out!

Desription rom the original post: “POC21 was an international innovation community, that started as an innovation camp. The camp brought together 100+ makers, designers, engineers, scientists and geeks. In late summer 2015, we joined forces in a stunning French castle to prototype a fossil free, zero waste society. Our ultimate goal was to overcome the destructive consumer culture and make open-source, sustainable products the new normal. Over the course of 5 weeks we developed 12 sustainable lifestyle technologies and built an international community of innovators and supporters, that continues to grow.”