Boreal Woods Mushroom Farm

Matt Meares and I have been attempting to get a podcast recording for over a year. Schedules, technical problems, studio challenges kept us from successfully recording. Our fourth attempt was also not perfect, but we decided to go ahead with it. Waiting for perfection was preventing me from telling this wonderful story about interior Alaska’s only Mushroom farmer and the 10 plus varieties of mushrooms that he successfully grows. He grows, Lions Mane, Oyster, Black Pearl, Chestnut, Pioppino, Reishi and King Oyster. Other varieties are shiitake, beech, maitake, nameko and cordyceps. Its a new world for me. The mushrooms are not complicated to cook and the experience is amazing. Plus mushrooms are good for you!

Born and raised in Ester, Meares grew up in Ester and was working in and managing greenhouses around Fairbanks. He left the state for a while but returned and years later, as a stay-at-home Dad, he wanted to engage in something he could do with his two sons. He had been a part of a mushroom CSA and was immediately intrigued by the whole mushroom growing process and decided he could do this.

He and his boys cleared out a large garage/shop on his property and started Boreal Woods Mushroom Farm. Mushroom farms are vertical farms and are predominantly indoors, however, some are grown outside in summer months. His intent was to grow something year around. His natural investigative and scientific mind helped him perfect the process over the last four years and he feels he is in a good place with his business objectives.

Matts sons are growing and have added more activities to their interests, but they still help with the farm, packaging and selling. He still sells at Farmers markets, and has successfully added CSA, Community Supported Agriculture, concept to his increasing business. CSAs now represent over 50% of his sales. CSAs help both the buyers and the seller as they allow the seller to get funds upfront to manage the expenses of shipment, supplies and equipment. The buyer gets the pick of the mushrooms at their freshest and their best. Matt’s CSA clients get a pound a week or half a pound a week, for a defined time frame every season. Now a pound of mushrooms is A LOT OF MUSHROOMS! If you can visualize mushrooms, they are not a heavy product. They are not turnips, potatoes or squash! They are pretty light. Matt sells about 2000 plus pounds every year, which is astounding!

Matt has plans for a commercial kitchen where he can produce more products that are complimentary to mushrooms. His latest product that is wildly popular is his cream of mushroom soup. One can use that to make soup of course or use it to make the ever popular green beans casserole. Its not just for Thanksgiving. Yum!

Matt can be seen at the Fairbanks Farmers market on Wednesday and Saturdays, Southside Community farm on Thursdays and has CSA pick up locations at Roaming Root, and his farm. What a treat to go to the farm, get a tour and pick your mushrooms!

Help support our local farmers and foragers. Sign up for a CSA and get introduced to the wonderful world of mushrooms.