A visit to Blue Moon Mushroom Farm got me thinking. I wondered about the first person to eat a mushroom and discovered the good ones by trial and error. I imagine it was like, hey, this one tastes like mastodon, that one killed Ivan instantly and these make you see God!
Thank goodness for Jessica Blanzy, the colorful owner of Blue Moon Farm that takes the guesswork out of it for the rest of us.
The Blanzy’s and Mushroom Farming
The obvious question is why mushrooms? The answer is she and Jim are foodies, like to cook and “just because we can”. Jessica a former wine distribution rep and her husband are also savvy enough to see a business opportunity. Thorough research and planning led to their first crop in January 2022 and an expansion to double capacity mid-year.
Quality Comes First
The mushrooms are grown in a 100% plant-based media substrate. No chemical additives, fertilizers or pesticides are introduced in the process. Quality control begins by making their own growing medium from soy, wood and water they sterilize in a pressure cooker. Thereafter according to Jessica, it requires diligent cleaning and disinfecting to prevent the biggest enemy – mold.
Mushroom “spawn” is purchased from commercial, regulated suppliers and refrigerated until ready to use. This ensures it is all the “right” kind of edible mushroom and customers won’t suffer the fate of poor Ivan the caveman.
Finally a clean, tightly controlled environment of temperature, humidity, CO2 and careful batch tracking until harvest completes the production cycle.
Production Cycle of an Oyster Mushroom
When the growing medium is ready, the next step is activating the mushroom spawn in a HEPA filtered control room, inoculating the substrate and packing it into sterile bags creating a block.
The blocks are placed into the tented “dark rooms” for incubation, two weeks @ 78-80 degrees with 80% humidity to simulate their below ground growing cycle.
Following that, they are transferred to the lighted, tented “fruiting rooms” maintained @60% humidity to complete the growth cycle. Two weeks later it’s time for a daily harvest when they “fruit” and burst through the blocks.
The spent blocks after harvest are collected and sold to vegetable farmers for use in making compost, with little waste.
Mushrooms and More Mushrooms
Jessica says “when people learn about our business, the first thing they want to know is if we grow magic mushrooms.” “I have to explain no, those are illegal, but they already know that!”
Blue, pink, golden and king oyster mushrooms and lions mane are their primary products, but they also grow shitaake, hen of the woods and chestnut varieties.
Product is marketed direct to consumer at local farmer’s markets and to local high-end restaurants like Revel and Rialto.
Pricing, Availability and Contact Information
Blue Moon Mushroom Farm is located in Fort Smith, Arkansas. Jessica and Jim may be found at our local farmer’s market on Garrison Avenue most Saturdays from opening until they sell out.
Mushrooms are priced from $10-$13 per pound and their fresh ‘shrooms will last refrigerated from 7-10 days.
My favorite recipe using their oyster mushrooms is a simple saute in butter, seasoned with salt and pepper. I love them as a side, but on occasion make a meal of them.
Contact Jessica via email at [email protected] or on Instagram @BlueMoonMushroomFarms