I always like to bring groups on our Market tours to the Hazel Dell Mushroom stand to meet my friend Chad and to marvel at the most beautiful mushrooms most people have ever seen. Hazel Dell Mushrooms are a staple in the best restaurants here in the front range, and once each year Hazel Dell opens its doors for an open house and candid tour of the mushroom farm. I had it marked on my calendar for months and am so glad I made the drive north to Fort Collins, CO.
Chad often tells my tour guests that Hazel Dell mushrooms are certified organic by the state of Colorado, that they grow a lot of mushrooms in saw dust, and they “fool” the mushrooms into “thinking” it is spring all the time in closely monitored sea freight containers. Seeing it in person makes for a powerful story of these small fungi.
There are a number of containers on the farm where mushrooms incubate. Then they’re transferred into a larger climate controlled room that is so humid it made my glasses fog up multiple times.
This room was amazing. You have to see it (or experience it) to believe it, so make sure to visit next year for Hazel Dell’s annual open house! All of the mushrooms we see at the market each week grow here in the most unique looking packets.
The Hazel Dell Mushroom experts do their best to mimic nature and are able to produce mushrooms year-round.
I felt like I was witnessing a really cool, super complex science experiment as Chad talked to us about how simply tossing each incubated package up to a worker straddling shelves a number of feet above the ground simulates a tree falling in the forest, which stimulates growth. Really? So if a tree falls in the forest and nobody is there to hear it, at least the mushrooms will know… and then grow.
It is always nice to see where exactly your food comes from, and learning some behind-the-scenes details about the mushrooms I buy each week was, for me, a great way to spend a Saturday afternoon.
Want to take that wonderful Market Tour food home with you all season long?
Think about joining a local CSA.
Membership in a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) is a great way to get to know and use fresh, local, seasonal ingredients in your own kitchen. The Chefs from our Market Tour talk with farmers and make menu decisions based on what is growing in our community.
This picture represents 1/2 share of the CSA from one of our partners, Ollin Farms. Mark at Ollin Farms is a talented local farmer with a background in environmental and water resource engineering who believes in sustainable agriculture. Mark and his family use the farm not only to supply the community with delicious and nutritious food, but also to educate adults and youth about the importance of The Biological Nutrient-Dense Farming Model.
If you are looking for a local CSA, or would like to learn more about what is local, fresh, and seasonal where you live- try your local farmers’ market or check out some of the resources listed below.
If you are looking for some great ideas on what to do with fresh and seasonal produce, check out Megan’s blog where there are many excellent ideas for using vegetables in delicious and nutritious dishes.