VFM Spotlight: Coast Mushrooms offers juicy harvests

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      In this series, the Georgia Straight visits different vendors at the Vancouver Farmers Markets to learn about their business, products, and why they love being at the weekly markets.

      Name of vendors? Coast Mushroomtech Ltd. managed by Heidi and David Xiao.

      What do you sell? We sell a variety of the freshest mushrooms available in Vancouver. Currently, we have both cultivated and wild mushrooms. Our cultivated mushrooms are harvested day-of and we source our wild morels, chanterelles, lobsters, and other wild varieties as locally as possible.

      Our farm is a spawn-to-mushroom company which allows us control of all factors—from cultivar selection to compost quality to growing conditions. We will soon be one of the few to commercially grow organic King Oyster and Shimeji in Canada.

      How did you get into your business? Coast Mushroomtech Ltd. is a family business that was started by our dad in 1998. Heidi just returned from finishing her degree in Montreal and David is completing a degree in Land & Food Systems at UBC, so naturally we got involved in the company.

      This year, the business is expanding commercially and we wanted to try out the farmers markets to gain some more insight on the local food business in Vancouver. We are interested in helping connect farmers in the Fraser Valley with the thriving restaurant industry in Vancouver.

      We recognize that there are challenges in connecting the two groups since there are often obstacles in logistics, language and a lack of information exchanged. It is important to us going forward to reduce the inefficiencies that currently exist, and to promote the great relationships that are already happening!

      What’s your specialty? At the moment, our specialty is the organic oyster mushroom (pleurotus ostreatus). Often described by our shoppers as "flowers" and "elephant ears", these beautiful mushrooms are easy to look at and even easier to cook. They are incredible when sautéed with some butter, garlic and green onions for 3-4 minutes!

      Traditionally, oyster mushrooms are produced in artificial logs made up of sawdust and other nutrient inputs, enveloped in a plastic bag and sterilized. Our composting system is a redesign of commercial methods to emphasize key processes required in soil development for mushroom production. This excludes the use of animal manures, additives, pesticides, fertilizers, and only requires raw substrate in varying portions of straw and wood chips. For the production of oyster mushrooms, we use a scaleable organic growing method.

      Favourite item you sell? Chanterelles! These wild mushrooms are just coming into season and they're ridiculously good in risotto and stir-frys.

      Favourite thing about the city’s farmers markets? The dogs! And the great conversations with shoppers and fellow vendors.