Meet Seed & Spore, a local company bringing gourmet mushrooms to the area year-round.
Although culinary mushrooms have become increasingly more mainstream in recent years, their presence locally has been very myceliumesque, underground, with a handful of vendors contributing in a much appreciated seasonal capacity. However, Seed & Spore, is stepping in as one of the first local companies to produce gourmet culinary mushrooms and microgreens year-round.
We sat down with the company’s founders; Lauryn Lesley, Jared Winmill and Eston Taylor to learn more about their vision. How did Seed & Spore come to be?
Lauryn: That’s a good question. During the beginning of the pandemic, there was a lot of uncertainty around the economy and job certainty, and Jared and I were talking over different things that we could do that we would find interesting.
All of us have a background in agriculture and at the very beginning of 2020, I was studying permaculture through a certificate program put on by High Sierra Permaculture Holistic Homestead Academy. That kind of got the ball rolling for me because I really have a passion for conservation and agriculture.
Eston: I was just looking for something to invest in at the time. I was working as the COO of Bushel and Jared was helping me with some odd projects around the house. We developed a friendship over time and I got involved because these two sold me on their vision for this company.
Jared: I’ve loved mushrooms for a really long time. The first time I went foraging with some of my best friends at a cabin in northern Minnesota felt like treasure hunting. We found so many varieties: choices, edibles and really fun ones.
I also worked in the service industry and really enjoyed cooking with mushrooms.
Did any of you have any experience with growing mushrooms?
All: No, we didn’t have any experience with microgreens either.
Eston: We watched a lot of videos to learn. Jared, who is our head grower, has literally built some of the specialized equipment himself because of delays or price increases that were caused by the pandemic.
Lauryn: If you put your mind to learning something, you really can do it.
Jared: I’ve really been able to draw on all of my past experiences. I’ve been able to pull from the service industry side, knowing how to talk to chefs and knowing how to sell what they want. I’ve spent a summer framing houses and doing some other construction-type stuff which has come in handy when we’ve had to build stuff.
But, I’ve had to learn a lot. I’ve had to learn about plumbing and HVAC stuff on top of the cultivation!
Why seed and spore?
Eston: We want to provide fresh food year-round. I grew up on five acres of land in Florida where there are fruit trees everywhere. There’s always something to pick. Here, you don’t have that. It can be a really sad state of affairs here, especially during the winter months. A lot of the produce just has to be shipped so far. For example, mint, which isn’t very hard to grow, costs like $3 for a tiny little package and is basically rotten by the time you pull it off of the shelf.
Part of what really intrigued me with these two was that they see food as medicine. I agree with that. We want to be part of this rise of the urban farm so that we can provide fresh food year-round in climates like this. It’s stupid to ship lettuce all the way across the country.
Can you tell me about the varieties you grow?
Jared: Coming from a culinary background, I know most of the chefs want a variety of these mushrooms. So, I like the idea of mixing it up. I’ve been trying a lot of different varieties and see what works well based on the temperature of the season.
We focus a lot on the oyster mushroom because there are so many varieties with different tastes and colors. They’re also just so versatile. They’re really easy to cook.
Can you tell me more about the microgreens?
Lauryn: I mean, they’re both really superfoods. Microgreens are great because there’s so much nutrition packed into such a small portion. That’s very exciting and that’s why we latched onto that.
How long did it take for you to really figure out the growing process?
Jared: About seven months. To learn more head to seedspore.co where you can purchase mushrooms and microgreens online!
According to Jared, Seed & Spore’s head grower, those looking to enjoy their mushrooms should consider a dry-sauté as a potential method of preparation.Add a co