Mycologist Stephanie Manara checks on the progress of a variety of different mushrooms growing at her Nevada County fungi business, MushBarn. Manara and partners sell and ship their product, which can also be found for sale at some local businesses.
Photo: Elias Funez
The stalactites hang heavy from the lion’s mane growing from white mycelium blocks stacked to the ceiling of a greenhouse belonging to Nevada City’s MushBarn.
The MushBarn, operated by mycologist Stephanie Manara, started the community-supported agriculture component of its business in January. Customers can pick up oyster varieties at Liquid Gold Juicery on York Street in Nevada City, but Manara said her business offers something far more “meta” than being one tangible protein-rich alternative to meat.
“You know the reductionist theory in science? Looking at the singular pieces — it’s paradoxical to try to even do that,” Manara said. “When you realize mycelium is a tangible glue that connects everything living and respirating, it’s pretty amazing.”
MushBarn’s operations manager Dylan Lynch prepares packages of different mushrooms last month in the business that’s growing and expanding.
Photo: Elias Funez
Manara said her business model promotes the proliferation of mycelium via grow kit distribution and eight-week internships.
Mycelium, or mushrooms, act as a living agent and facilitate a dynamic relationship between the plants and the soil. This dynamism is necessary for anything to grow and sustain life, Manara said, but is especially beneficial to introduce in areas with depleted soil caused by generations of conventional farming.
According to Manara, the phantom-root-like structure that makes up the underground portion of mushroom also helps with soil water retention to support flora and fauna. Manara said it’s hard to determine