A mushroom is simply the above-ground “fruiting” body of a fungus. Fungi are saprophytic organisms that break down dead organic matter for their nutrition and hence, play a crucial role in the recycling of nutrients in the environment. Unlike plants, fungi do not require sunlight or contact with soil to grow, so they are ideally suited for growing in urban areas where buildings and trees limit adequate sun exposure and may present challenges to growing fruits and vegetables for food.
The Environmental Interpretive Center’s Urban Mushroom Garden is the first and only demonstration mushroom garden in the Great Lakes region. It is dedicated to educating the public about practical methods for the outdoor cultivation of edible and medicinal mushrooms. The 0.5-acre garden is situated along the edge of the woods adjoining the Center’s southern rain garden. More than a dozen species of mushrooms are grown in the Garden using a variety of culture techniques, including growing mushrooms on hardwood logs, stumps, and woodchips. Visitors can learn about mushroom cultivation by following a series of interpretive signs along a walking trail through the garden. Some of the species that can be viewed in the Garden (depending on the season) may include shiitake, maitake, oyster, lion’s mane, chicken of the woods, bluets, reishi, nameko, and turkey tail mushrooms.
The mushroom garden was made possible with the technical assistance of Chris Wright and Easy Grow Mushrooms, as well as through the generosity of a Ford MODEL Team Better World Grant from the Ford Motor Company Fund.