March, the third month in our calendar year. A month where we “spring” forward with our clocks and add an extra hour of sunlight, a month where we can feel the spring vibes, we feel the sun’s warmth against our skins, a month where we also celebrate International Women’s Day.
Growing mushrooms as a career really was not something that I planned on doing. I was born into the industry, but I did not want anything to do with it. I did not understand why my parents did this as their livelihood. Now, I completely understand their thinking.
Being a farmer is not something you can train for there is no “how to be a farmer” book that you can purchase and read, which gives you all the answers. You cannot follow 5 steps and become a farmer.
Farmers are so overlooked and misconstrued. The public thinks farmers are dirty, and stupid and incompetent. Well, that is not entirely true. We are not stupid; we need to know how to grow food to put on the public’s table; and we need to be able to adjust to the many curve balls that farming throws at us. But I will let you in on a little secret — some of us love getting dirty. We love the feel of our growing material between our fingers, the smell of our ripe product and the beauty our harvest exudes when it hits the market. Being a farmer and any kind of farmer be it cow, corn, strawberry, apple, bean and YES mushrooms, you must be passionate in what you do everyday and you must be a little bit crazy… we are a different breed that is a fact!
March 2020 changed my life as it changed many other peoples lives. A month when we all remember where we were when the world literally stopped. I was having tea with my mom watching the news. I was nervous, stressed and I had no idea what was heading our way. I had my dad as my support even though he was overseas. I remember calling him and asking him what am I supposed to do? And he did not know what to tell me, he did not know how to advise me on my next move. I remember him saying that everything will work out, people need to eat. Food is essential!
Sure, food is essential, but mushrooms are not staples in the households of Canadians. I saw potatoes flying off skids, customers buying onions and carrots by truck loads. It was just like toilet paper flying off the shelves at your Walmart. But mushrooms? Not really.
I had sold everything that was in my cooler, and then all my orders started being cancelled. At that point I really wanted to throw my cellphone out the window. It was stressful and I did not know how to handle this type of stress. Farmers deal with stress daily, never mind… scratch that. We deal with stress hourly and we get through the day. It drives us to be better, to learn, to adapt, to evolve in our every day lives. But this! Throwing in a Global Pandemic! Um? Someone send me the “how to” book because I do not know what to do.
One year later, still addressing the pandemic issue in our society, we had to curb our ways of doing business. Many businesses closed their doors for a while, some forever. Some businesses changed their marketing strategy to include online sales. I am fortunate to have met my new neighbours. Well, they twisted my arm and told me that I needed a website and an online ordering system. I was very apprehensive, I did not want to go digital, but I was open minded and listened to their advice and now here we are at www.wtmushroom.ca.
Recently, I had an idea of writing a blog on the website. I ran it by my web team, and they loved the idea. So, for the next 10 months you will be able to read some of my thoughts and experiences regarding being a mushroom grower. These will be only my personal experiences and thoughts. I will share some stories and some recipes that you can try at home. So, lets get started…. Enjoy the crazy ride!