2016 Recipient: Blooming Branch Farm

Dietrich Blum, Blooming Branch Farm

$6,000—Bulk Substrate Steam Pasteurizer for Mushroom Production

blum-8Dietrich is building a bulk substrate steam pasteurizer that allows him to produce wholesale quantities of oyster mushrooms as well as fruiting columns and fruiting blocks for other farmers to grow their own oyster mushrooms.  The pasteurizer is part of an ongoing build-out of the applied mycological laboratory and fruiting house facility at the farm.

Dietrich has found that growing oyster mushrooms on outdoor logs have two major disadvantages—a limited growing season and the potential for pest damage. The best solution is to set up indoor fruiting houses.

He is modifying an 8-foot by 10-foot walk-in freezer box to be used as the pasteurization chamber. It is plumbed with water supply lines, fitted with two 12kw steam generators and wired to heat the mushroom substrate to a pasteurization temperature of 71C to 90C.

Dietrich expects he can produce 4,200 pounds of pasteurized fruiting substrate, made out of sawdust and woodchips, suitable for inoculation of oyster mushrooms every 36 hours. This substrate is capable of growing 1,200 pounds of oyster mushrooms. Since mushrooms have a one-month incubation time and two-week period in the fruiting house, one fruiting house can produce 1,200 to 2,400 pounds of oyster mushrooms per month depending on crop management. Deitrich also has the capacity to process substrate to make oyster fruiting blocks and columns for other farmers.

Dietrich plans to sell oyster mushrooms through Mountain Food Products in Asheville and TRACTOR Food and Farms in Burnsville. He also sells mixed produce at the Madison County Farmer’s Market in Mars Hill and to many restaurants, including Table, Laughing Seed, and Greenlife Grocery. Deitrich studied plant science, sustainable agriculture and mycology as an undergraduate, and then applied mycology as part of his Master’s degree, completing a thesis on “Breeding and Preliminary Characterization of Novel Lentinula edodes (Shiitake) Strains.” His goal is to earn 100 percent income from his farm.

“I would like to see western North Carolina become a hub for production of specialty mushrooms, creating jobs in agriculture and helping farmers continue to farm,” Dietrich said.

Yancey County

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