Building Soil Health with Mushroom Compost
Learn about Woven Roots Farm’s no-till, hand-scale, growing, composting, mulching, and harvesting practices, and how mushroom substrate is being incorporated into their farming practices. Spend the day on the farm looking into the living world of soil and mycelium. This experience will allow you to sense into a practice of integrating spent mushroom substrate into home and small-scale farm composting systems.
What is mushroom substrate?
Substrate is a medium (hay, leaves, woodchips and compost are all examples) which lets mycelium – the vegetative part of a fungus – establish itself. The substrate offers the habitat, along with the nutrition, and moisture that mushrooms need to grow. Using mushroom substrate increases the bioactivity of compost, making soil that’s rich and allowing nutrients to be more accessible to plants.
We will be looking at compost at all stages: mixing it ourselves, observing a well-inoculated sample, and spreading compost on our beds. We’ll also take a close look at compost throughout the inoculation process via microscopes, guiding you to know what to look for on your own.
For those that don’t have a microscope at home, this is a great chance to learn how to build one using simple materials and a smartphone. DIY kits will be for sale. Afterwards, you’ll be able to sense intomaking your own beautiful mushroom compost blend, look for the creatures who make compost happen, and apply this knowledge to your very own beds.
Throughout the day we’ll:
- Review lessons from the Mushroom Compost Project
- Apply compost blends as part of on-farm fall bed prep
- Discuss ways in which compost-related management practices can nurture the soil as well as prevent and alleviate soil compaction
- View various states of mushroom substrate within compost
- Learn how to build a microscope
- Enjoy lunch from Once Upon a Table together on the farm
- Mingle with farmers, gardeners, and community members
Local farm-to-table lunch included!
DIY Microscope kits available for on-site purchase!
- 9:30 am – Arrival
- 10:00 am – Gather and Intros
- 10:30 am – Farm Tour
- 11:00 – Substrate Combination
- 12:00 – Lunch
- 1:00 – Microscopy Demo & How to Build Your Own Microscope
- 2:30 – Compost application & bed prep
- 3:30 – Discussion and Q&A
- 4:00 – Wrap up
Sliding scale tickets
$35/$50/$65 (includes lunch)
Full Scholarships available: Apply here
Beginning farmers and ranchers are particularly encouraged to seek scholarships
About the Venue
Woven Roots Farm is a traditional, hand-scale vegetable farm, Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program, and education center located on unceded Mohican land in the present-day southern Berkshire hills of western Massachusetts. Through a deep relationship with the land and one another, we commit to feeding, educating, and empowering our community members by co-creating equitable pathways to become healthier individuals, ethical growers, and caretakers of the earth and one another.
Woven Roots celebrates that agriculture itself is rooted in the long-standing cultural practices within communities of Indigenous people, people of color, and immigrants. We acknowledge that the US was built on stolen land and that all US systems are built on the stolen labor of Black, Indigenous, Latinx, Asian and other people of color.
Our agricultural practices are centered in the ancestral ways of acknowledging nature as a part of us—just as much as we are a part of nature. We recognize the interconnectedness of all life: soil, plants, microbes, insects, and animals. We embrace these connections and seek to enhance them, not disturb them. In direct opposition to colonized agriculture, we move through a space of reciprocity that prioritizes our responsibility as land stewards.
In tandem with providing produce full-time, Woven Roots Farm & Education Center also creates for community members to reconnect to Earth’s natural rhythms and teachings from toddlerhood through elderhood. Our education center works to provide students a safe and productive community setting to grow and transform while cultivating food and skills for activism. We also create space for individuals and businesses seeking in-depth knowledge in successful hand-scale and ecological farming practices that produce abundant and vibrant vegetables on a small plot of land. Our farm offers intensives and workshops for both beginner and experienced farmers, as well as those interested in building their skills in self-reliance, food sovereignty, and environmental leadership.
About the Instructors
Jen Salinetti (she/her) is a co-founder, farmer, and Executive Director of Woven Roots Farm – a farm, education center, and CSA in present-day Tyringham, MA, that grows vegetables, herbs, and flowers using traditional, hand-scale farming practices. For 20 years, Jen has offered programs and workshops that develop relationships to land, build skills of resilience, promote traditional growing practices, and amplify pathways to social justice in the community, for the Northeast Organic Farming Association (NOFA), and other regional organizations. Jen serves on the MA Soil Health Advisory Council and is a part of the farmer consultancy program for the state. Jen is also President of the Massachusetts chapter of the Northeast Organic Farming Association & co-chair of the Equity & Inclusion Committee as well as the Food Access Committee.
Rubén Parilla (he/him) is the Soil Technical Coordinator for NOFA/Mass and trained in microscopic soil microbial identification through the Soil Food Web School. He is a Certified Lab Tech and studied Environmental Design at the University of Puerto Rico. Rubén has 15 years’ experience working at different capacities in the environmental laboratory industry. He has been performing soil carbon proxy testing, soil health assessments, soil chemical analysis, and soil microbiological evaluations for NOFA/Mass over the past year and has extensive experience farming and working with farmers, including beginning and socially disadvantaged farmers. Rubén performs soil health-related outreach and education events for NOFA/Mass by leading monthly farmer learning calls, providing hands-on workshops and instruction at soil health education events, and networking with farmers and individuals in the agricultural industry. He is a fluent and native Spanish speaker and fully English/Spanish bilingual.
Event photo credit: Noelia Salinetti
Transportation & Parking
Greyhound has a bus depot in the neighboring town of Lee, and a rideshare can be arranged from that site
Upon arrival, please note entrance and exit signs:
Park to the left of the driveway and note that it’s one-way
Two accessibility spots are located closer to the barn
To access them, make a right once in the driveway and drive up in front of the barn. Look for blue signs on the right.
This event will be offered in both English and Spanish
Cushioned folding chairs available on site
Composting toilet with one step-up is the site bathroom
The farm has uneven terrain and inclines in varying areas.
Accessibility parking is available (see parking notes) as well as a golf cart that a farm member can assist with
Refund/Inclement Weather Policy
For information on our refund and inclement weather policy, click here
Capacity for this event is limited to 50 people. Please register ahead to reserve your spot!
If you cannot attend, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Masks are not currently required at this location but are welcomed.
If you don’t feel fully healthy, we ask you to stay at home.
This event is made possible through the support of:
The USDA Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program, which provides grants to organizations for education, mentoring and technical assistance initiatives for beginning farmers and ranchers. NOFA/Mass is providing this programming through a partnership with the Pocasset Pokanoket Land Trust.
SARE Mushroom Compost – This material is based upon work supported by the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, U.S. Department of Agriculture, through the Northeast Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education program.
Any questions, please contact Hannah at email@example.com