Couple starts Far North Fungi to put fresh mushrooms on Alaskans' plates
Gabe DeGange never thought he'd meet someone as passionate about mushrooms as he is -- until he met Allison Dunbar.
The Chugiak High School grad was attending a mushroom conference in Washington State when he met Dunbar, from Atlanta, Georgia, and discovered he had met his match in the fungi department.
Dunbar and DeGange hit it off. A few years back, she moved to Anchorage. Last year, the couple started their business, Far North Fungi.
Far North Fungi is located in a South Anchorage warehouse. Some might call it an urban farm. Inside, long bags filled with straw hang from the ceiling with mushrooms growing inside. Dunbar says it takes about a month from the time the fungi start to grow until it's transferred into the sterile straw mixture. In a few weeks, the mushrooms "pop out" and a week after that, they're ready to harvest.
DeGange said they've been harvesting about 100 pounds of blue oyster mushrooms a week but hope to double that in the near future.
They sell them at farmers markets and to local restaurants. DeGange said the indoor growing operation makes sense for Alaska.
"If it's going to work, it's going to work financially here first," said DeGrange. "Just because we are paying so much for food to be brought in, the quality is less and growing indoors adds nine months to your growing season, which is pretty huge."
The couple sells regularly at the Thankful Thursdays Farmer's Market in the Mall at Sears. They're also at another market in the mall on Saturdays.
In addition, they offer regular tours of their growing operation as well as mushroom workshops for the public. The next workshop takes place Friday, Dec. 12 at 6 p.m.
For more information see their website.
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