Meet The Farmers
Gabe DeGange and Allison Dunbar started Far North Fungi in January 2017. Their mushroom journey began much earlier. They were both inspired to pursue mushrooms from a speech given by a famous mycologist at the Bioneers conference in 2011. Allison watched in the audience in California, while Gabe watched remotely in Alaska. Two years later, Gabe and Allison would meet at Paul Stamets' Fungi Perfecti mushroom cultivation conference. Their connection over mushrooms grew stronger as Allison worked on a mushroom farm in Atlanta and Gabe dreamed of starting his own mushroom business.
In the Summer of 2014, Allison came to visit Alaska and see the progress Gabe was making on his business. After networking and exploring the great Alaskan outdoors, they decided it was advantageous to combine their skills and become business partners.Through much hard work, second jobs, trials and errors, the mushroom vision was realized and Far North Fungi was born.
We are committed to serving our community and can be found at the South Anchorage Farmers Market or Fire Island Market in the Summer months. We currently grow four varieties of mushrooms, Lions Mane, Blue Oyster, King Oyster, and Black Poplar. We also forage for Morels in the Spring and Hedgehog mushrooms in the Fall.
We are extremely thankful and fortunate to have such supportive families and friends. They have been with us since the beginning of this journey and we simply would not be where we are today without them.
How We Grow
Instead of seed packets, our mushrooms start out in petri dishes. Either spores, the reproductive portion of the mushroom, or tissue cultures are collected and transferred onto potato dextrose agar filled petri dishes. The mushroom feeds off of the agar and spreads across the length of the petri dish. The growing part of the mushroom, mycelium, acts as the communication network signalling and transferring nutrients similar to roots. From this stage we cut sections of the mycelium covered agar with a scalpel and transfer it into pre-sterilized grain bags. The grain we use is locally sourced and acts as the second food source for the mushrooms. In these large filter patch bags, the mushroom is free to spread in and around the grain with clean air flowing through the filter. Two weeks later, the fully colonized grain bags are white with mycelium.
The mycelium is now ready for its third and final food source, sawdust. All of the mushrooms we grow are considered wood lovers, meaning they grow on dead hardwood. We use a mix of oak, cottonwood, and birch. We also add wheat bran as a supplement for our specialty species. Before introducing the mycelium, the wood needs to be hydrated and cleand. We sterilize locally sourced sawdust and wood shavings to fill our grow bags and add the mycelium covered grain. The bags are then put in our grow room and after a months time, will be producing mushrooms.
Mushrooms require oxygen and light. So, instead of filter patches, we cut holes in each bag for the mushrooms to pop out of in search for oxygen. They require oxygen because this is a signal to the mushrooms that they are above ground. It would be useless for a mushroom to form underground as their spores would not disperse. The light also helps signal the caps to form upright. The full spectrum light creates a richer color in the mushroom cap. Once the fruiting body, the mushroom, starts popping out of the holes, we can expect to harvest a mushroom cluster ranging from a quarter pound to two pounds in weight. From spore to fruiting body, the process takes anywhere from two to five months depending on which mushroom we grow.