Sunday, September 25, 2011

Mushroom Maestros in Oakland

(from left to right) Juliette, Patty, and Ray

A week ago, my neighbor casually mentioned that he saw a posting on Craigslist about free mushroom kits since he knows that I am an amateur mycologist. I searched for the posting that night and sent the poster an email to express my interest in picking up a mushroom kit. A few days later, I got a nice email from Ray offering me a tour of their mushroom farm in Oakland and a kit.  I looked up the link that's included in the email, It looks like a new establishment, and they use the straw and grain method.

On Friday evening, I took a short drive to Oakland where the farm is located. I was greeted by a very friendly girl named Juliette, who was extremely enthusiastic about mushrooms. Patty and Ray were excited to show me around and explain how they put the mushroom kits together with sterilized hay, cooked bird seeds or mixed grains and oyster spawns.  After a quick tour of their work area and seeing some large kits with white mycelia growing in them, I left the farm with 2 mushroom kits.

Juliette playing with cooked grains

My previous experience with straw mushroom kits have always been failures. I would leave them in the laundry room where it is cooler and shadier, but they always became moldy. This time I am hanging them in the garage where it is shady, airy, and cooler. I am hoping that I'll have better luck this time. If I can figure out a good spot to successfully grow mushrooms on Sand Village Farm with straw kits, then I can have fresh home grown mushrooms on a regular basis. I would also love to see The Mushroom Maestros' business grow in Oakland. It seems that Oakland is becoming a hot spot for urban farming, and I hope that may slowly change Oakland's negative reputation.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Giant Dog Kite at Berkeley Maria

I went to walk around Berkeley Maria this morning with a friend. As we were walking back to the car, we saw 3 men trying to get a huge kite to float in the air. In the beginning, we just saw this black and white sack lying on the grass. We couldn't really tell what it was. As more air filled it, I thought maybe it was a cat. We asked the men what it was, they told us it was a dog! Of course! Berkeley Maria is popular with dog owners and their dogs.

People were getting excited as the dog started to take its shape. A lot of people fly their kites there because of the slopes and wind. The men set up the dog and later a frog and a kid that looks like a South Park character (but it's not). The dog was the biggest kite, and many people and kids stopped to take pictures with it. It was a good day to hang out next to the bay just enjoy the view and sun. The men actually run a kite business out of a large truck, so if you are looking for a kite, just stop at Berkeley Maria and look for Highline Kites of Berkeley truck.