About 2 years ago I had read about two business majors from Berkeley who had been given a project to build a business from scratch and using very little money. The main focus was to create each business with a view to being sustainable, environmentally friendly and community driven.

The two guys, both business majors at the time had decided to grow shiitake mushrooms, but not in the conventional way. They had realised that used coffee grounds were a perfect growing medium for mushrooms and so set upon scouring the coffee shops, scheduling collections for their coffee grounds, all of which would only be going to landfill.

To cut a long story short, they grew all of their shiitake mushrooms in a heat regulated warehouse with grow lights and sold their produce to local restaurants. Needless to say the project was a major success! So much so that they won The Young entrepeneur award and left their education to carry on growing their prized mushroom.

This got me thinking that the market was out there and although i would never grow commercially, i was eager to try! I had no money to start off my little venture so i decided to do it the same way the chinese have always done, by inoculating hard wood logs with pre-bought spores. I bartered a local timber merchant to cut me some birch wood on the spot and made my way down to Starbucks to strike a deal with them to give me their used coffe grounds every week. It wasn’t very hard as Starbucks now have a policy that they cannot refuse to give you any coffee waste if you ask for it. The grounds make an incredible compost, so all you coffee drinkers out there, you have a good excuse..you’re helping the plants!!

To grow on logs as i do you need some hardwood logs chopped into about 4 foot lengths and stacked like a jenga puzzle.

The logs will need to be in a shaded area so if there’s a woodland or plot under trees available, that’s your best bet!

*Drill individual holes in a dimaond pattern, big enough to hammer the spores into.

*Cover the holes with a hot beeswax to seal up the holes and allow them to inoculate the log!

*Cover the whole structure with a see through plastic sheet to keep the humidity.

Mushrooms need to be shocked into actually growing from the log once the ends are showing that it has spread throghout the entire thing. To shock the logs, throw them into a bath (an old one possibly!) and fill with freezing cold water. I leave them in for a good few days but this will happen relatively quickly and when shocked can give you a harvest 3 times a year!

Remember you may have to wait anywhere from 6 months to 1 year to enjoy your first harvest but after that you will be picking a lot more regularly, so do be patient on this one if you can.

When your Shiitake appear start picking and enjoy the taste of your very own homegrown.

A link to a very innovative and exciting business idea from the Berkeley Majors that reduces waste and builds community relations.


A video showing a different layout of the logs and some quick information for you!