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New owner of The Urban Mushroom expands grow rooms, becomes certified forager

The new owner of The Urban Mushroom, Mary Ann Faulkner, has expanded the business in under a year with her recent certification as a mushroom identification expert.

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/Kim Sanwald

At 6 a.m., Mary Ann Faulkner can be found foraging in the woods and forests to find local wild mushrooms, which haven’t been sold for years in Grand Rapids.

Faulkner, the new owner of The Urban Mushroom, has been revamping the business since last year. She now sells her foraged and indoor grown mushrooms to the public at the Fulton Street Farmers Market and Nourish Organic Market, as well as to restaurants like Bistro Bella Vita, Brewery Vivant and Grove.

A few types of mushrooms available include morels, chicken of the woods, dryad saddles, oyster and maitake.

What started as an indoor mushroom cultivation business with the original owners quickly grew to include foraged mushrooms and other products with Faulkner's influence. But she admits that even she wasn't interested in foraged food until somewhat recently.

“I had no interest in foraging before the first time I went a couple of years ago, but from that day on I had mushrooms on the brain,” Faulkner says.

After becoming interested in foraging and farming mushrooms, Faulkner reached out to the previous owners to volunteer. When the owners sought out other opportunities, Faulkner bought the company from them.

Trisha Ross, who works for Faulkner, says The Urban Mushroom has expanded greatly in her six months there, mostly due to the new owner being a certified mushroom forager.

Faulkner recently received Michigan’s Wild-Foraged Mushroom Harvesting Certification, a new program developed by Midwest American Mycology Information (MAMI), the Institute for Sustainable Living, Art & Natural Design (ISLAND) and the Michigan Farmers Market Association (MIFMA).  

The program certifies participants as approved mushroom identification experts and is valid for five years. It allows individuals to sell foraged mushrooms to restaurants, farmers markets and the public.

The Urban Mushroom will have a stand at Fulton Street Farmers Market all summer on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) shares are available that include about a pound of local gourmet mushrooms. CSA shares can be ordered and picked up at the market.

Faulkner says she is consistently working on her mushroom growing skills and within the next few months she would like to start growing new varieties, like lion’s mane, shitake, golden and grey oyster.

She looks forward to soon facilitating foraging trips, and teaching cooking classes and gardening skills.

More information can be found on The Urban Mushroom Facebook page.

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