Chicken of the woods

Chicken of the Woods

PAW PAW — A Paw Paw farm is making room for ‘shrooms, seeking help from mushroom hunters everywhere to help with their research.

Peasant’s Parcel mushroom farm, in its 2nd year of operation, was awarded a Farmer Grant from Northeast Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education based on their interest in Chicken of the Woods mushrooms. Their proposal, “Trialing Cultivating Chicken of the Woods Using Standard Mushroom Farm Technology While Confirming PCR Primer Sequence Traits in Fruiting Bodies,” is a mouthful, but the result is simple:

They’ll continue mushroom research to push the industry forward. 

Sharon Briggs, a Capon Bridge native, runs the Hampshire County farm, and she said she always wanted to live in the area and start a farm, so she’s basically living the dream. 

“I’ve been growing mushrooms for 15 years, since I was a student at Davis & Elkins,” she said. “We grow a variety of oyster mushrooms and other edible and medicinal exotics seasonally.”

The farm is “off-grid,” she said, and runs on solar power. To add to Briggs’ goal of sustainability, mushrooms are also grown in biodegradable materials with compostable packaging. She pointed out that it all fits with the farm’s motto: “Sustainable products from the mountains.”

The farm’s next step of ‘shroom research is leading them to seek help from the community in finding fresh samples of wild harvested Chicken of the Woods. No mushroom expertise needed – even the most novice of mushroom hunters is welcome to assist Peasant’s Parcel with their research. Samples will contribute to larger scientific knowledge, and the first 30 foragers to provide these viable samples will be compensated $10 for their time. 

Samples can be given to Peasant’s Parcel the farmers market in Romney on the 4th Friday of every month, or the Berkeley Springs market on Sundays and at Happy’s farmers market in Keyser on the first 3 Fridays of the month. 

Chicken of the Woods is an easy mushroom to identify: look for orange bracket fungi growing in a fan or rosette shape. Also, the fungi can be poisonous if growing on a conifer tree, so maybe skip those when searching for your samples.

If you can’t make it to a market to deliver your sample immediately, place your 1-2 inch sample in a paper towel or napkin and then into a partially open Ziploc bag. Keep the sample in the fridge until it can be delivered. o

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