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Northern Woods Specialty Mushrooms

When Markus and Esther Dietsche came to Canada from Switzerland in 1995 they had no idea that their lives would some day revolve around a barn full of mushrooms. What they did know is that they wanted to give farming a try. They bought a pig farm near Markdale and raised young pigs to market weight for five years. When pigs became difficult to sell, it was time to change their focus and they decided on mushrooms.

Today they have a thriving business as one of the most northerly growers in Ontario. Their crop is cultivated indoors in a controlled environment, but mushrooms are sensitive and the temperature has to be changed several times a day. According to Markus, ‘it’s a very moody crop. They can act silly if you do something wrong!”. That means the family spends a lot of time observing the weather, and listening to the news so they can adjust the temperature in the barn accordingly. The varieties grown change depending on the season. Cold-weather strains such as white oyster and beech mushrooms are grown from November until April, whereas warm weather strains such as pink oysters, abalone and shiitake are cultivated in the summer months.

No chemicals are used on the mushrooms, which means they don’t spray for flies and there are no chemicals in the medium (root sawdust), which differs from most other commercial growers.

Markus explains that mushrooms have more nutritional value than most people realize. For example shiitake mushrooms contain 13 to 18 per cent protein. Most mushrooms contain fibre, ash, niacin and thiamine and have a high mineral content. In Asia shiitake mushrooms have been used for centuries for medicinal purposes.

Northern Woods Specialty Mushrooms ▪
795099 East Backline, Markdale, ON N0C 1H0 ▪
519-986-3339 ▪

Written by Jennifer Pittet for Grey Bruce Agriculture & Culinary Association ▪

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