Sorghum Molasses and Mushrooms
Grant Award: $6,000
Holland and Andrew are creating a multi-use facility that houses a sorghum press, furnace and broiler. With this new building, they no longer need to travel 30 minutes to another farm to process their sorghum syrup. They also can process in inclement weather, which limited them in the past, since the PTO-driven press is in a bay of an existing tobacco barn. The shed and equipment allows them to broaden the types of events they hold on farm as well.
“The boiler house will serve as a gathering place for our CSA members as well as a location for other events that will continue to be hosted on the farm,” Holland said. They participate in the High Country Farm Tour and the Lettuce Learn program through local schools.
The 15-foot by 20-foot structure houses a 3-foot by 6-foot furnace, constructed out of cinder block and set on a concrete pad. The stainless steel boiler pan is mounted to a track overhead so that cables can lift the pan off the furnace, making it easy and safe to stop the boiling process when the molasses is finished. This furnace base can then be used for other farm enterprises, such as roasting whole animals on a grate to serve at events.
Holland and Andrew have found another use for the sorghum pressings—they make an ideal growing medium for oyster-type and shiitake-type mushrooms. Holland and Andrew chop the pressed stalks with a wood chipper and then pasteurize them using the boiler to create a suitable environment for mushroom spawn.
Holland and Andrew have been growing sorghum and making syrup since 2009, as well as growing two acres of biodynamically raised vegetables. They also have pasture/woodland pigs, broiler chickens, goats and turkeys. They sell at the Watauga County Farmer’s Market and to High Country Community Supported Agriculture members, New Appalachia, area restaurants and directly to customers on the farm. In 2012, they signed 30-year mortgage on 20 acres of land in Watauga County, and in 2015 Andrew farmed full-time for the first time.