About MycTyson & #ColonizeThePlanet

Thanks for learning more about me, my history and the ongoing efforts to #ColonizeThePlanet. In short, my mission to #ColonizeThePlanet doesn’t stop until every man, woman and child is excited about fungi. Like the mycelium beneath our feet while walking the forests, we are connected in ways we do not see or understand, and fungi connect us in even more ways not only with ourselves and others, but the world around us. I believe that fungi play a role in every life on this planet, whether apparent or not, we depend on fungi to survive and I hope to inspire any curious person with an inkling of interest in fungi to maximize their interest by digging in and taking a bite out of mycology with me, MycTyson. πŸ„πŸ’–

Welcome To Mushroom Hour Podcast

If instead of a wall of text, you’d like the audio run down – look no further than above this very post where I am interviewed by my friend for an episode of Welcome to Mushroom Hour. Listen to this and other great podcasts by following @Welcome_To_Mushroom_Hour on Instagram!

A Summary of Experience

Growing mushrooms has been a personal hobby of mine for 8 years, and I am privileged with having another 4 years of professional growing under my belt. Within this time, I have grown from budding hobbyist to esteemed consultant, upholding knowledge and experience in many areas of mushroom growing. I am self taught through research, a lot of trial and error, and with some professional time accrued at the (now) #1 producer of Agaricus in the US. Later, my professional excursions led me to a consulting position for a small, family-owned, exotic mushroom farm, and I eventually took my own turn at selling gourmet mushrooms at market. That said, at my present state of ignorance, I am still regarded as having a good handle on mushroom growing β€” both for the hobbyist & commercial grower alike β€” but I, too, am always learning.

/r/MushroomGrowers

Some time in 2015, I started a community on Reddit for mushroom growers. As it still stands today, the primary goal/intent of this community is to provide a safe space where new growers are free to discuss unfamiliar topics; and do so without fear of being berated. After /r/MushroomGrowers was up and running, my focus (for nearly 2 years) had been on selling mushroom cultures and substrates through a website, β€œGet Cultured”. Since then, the tides steadily shifted, and I have turned toward formulating new ways to serve the everyday hobbyist through a mushroom grower’s market.

It feels good β€” Yet, these are only the start toward my ultimate goal. By grasping every opportunity to take it to the next level, and fill out the pieces to the β€œwhole”, my passions held in the world of mushrooms are what assist me in achieving my long-term mushroom growing goals.

My Mushroom Growing Mission

My long-term mission with mushroom growing is to establish a fair trade network of mushroom growers in developing nations. This network would develop dependable revenue streams for these people by reusing locally available agricultural wastes to produce high quality mushrooms & mushroom based products for import & distribution throughout the US & perhaps even worldwide.

By enabling these communities to use agricultural waste to produce highly nutritious foods, while also providing a new way for community members to make money for their families, these areas have the potential to benefit greatly; as they might not have otherwise had access to fresh mushrooms because of the high cost of imports and furthermore, directly increasing the quality of life for these growers.

I pledge to dedicate 15% of each sale from my site toward funding this mission, and I will create & be routinely keeping an updated status on a β€˜Goals’ page once we reach half way. Once my goal has been reached, the next steps in my myco-philanthropy journey will begin.

All proceeds from sticker sales will be dedicated towards this objective!

Since you’re still with me here β€” Why not check out some slaps? All proceeds from these sticker sales are dedicated directly toward my mission objectives. Even if you’re not interested in growing right now, your valued support (from as little as a sticker purchase) can make all the difference.

My Work With Raymond In Kenya πŸ‡°πŸ‡ͺ

On my mission to #ColonizeThePlanet, the first stop is Oyugis, Kenya with my long time friend Raymond Benson Orenda. Raymond runs Organic Food Kenya, and is the closest embodiment to an actual, living saint that I know personally. Raymond is on a mission to provide high quality food to his local community, more specifically Raymond takes it upon himself to not only produce and feed his community freely, but by also building houses for those who need shelter. He relies on donations to fund his endeavors, more information is available on the Organic Food Kenya website, Facebook, or Instagram pages.

Below, you can follow along on the journey Raymond and his community have been on to put together a mushroom growing barn, using existing agricultural wastes, we plan to grow heat tolerant species of various mushrooms. Starting with Pleurotus (oyster) mushrooms, and techniques that are less dependent on modern luxuries, we’re hoping to have our first trial grows underway by September or better.

Covid-19 has affected this project directly by fact of the mail services to Kenya being blocked shortly before the shipment of cultures was sent, but as the world may have it, we were blessed with an unexpected friend named Elias, who showed up to give Raymond not only hands on support and advice, but to connect him to existing spawn providers in the area, giving Raymond and this project a SIGNIFICANT jump start compared to producing spawn without the equipment needed to do this.

If you’ve ever purchased something from MycTyson.com – give yourself a little pat on the back for your contribution to this project, and stay tuned for more updates as they become available.

If you know someone or some community that may have similar interest, don’t be shy to email me at LetsGrow@MycTyson.com to connect us, once this operation in Kenya is producing independent of my (or other) assistance, I will be looking for another project.

Update May 2021

As I type it is May 2021 and I’ve still got my finger on the pulse of the work in Kenya! With the work I am doing in Uganda working closely with Josephine Nakakande of Eco Agric Uganda, I have been blessed with a willing teacher AND spawn producer (aka JOSEPHINE!) who has generously volunteered to directly train Raymond with hands on, proven techniques that will enable him to finally get the grow room put to use.

It’s been a stressful journey for Raymond, and everyone involved in this project, with so much momentum so early on, the grow room was completed in no time! Then Covid stepped in and presented a shipping/training block which was overcome by a generous stranger named Elias who volunteered to be an on-site teacher for Raymond and his community to grow mushrooms, but sadly that didn’t work out and no mushrooms have been grown successfully (yet!) in the grow room!

Josephine has recently agreed to host, train and send Raymond from Uganda with both love in his heart and spawn in hand to take back to teach his community and finally begin to start producing mushrooms. I will be financing the trip for Raymond, we’re currently working out transportation arrangements to actually get Raymond from Kenya to Uganda. The next update will be when we get Raymond & Josephine face to face!

Josephine In Uganda πŸ‡ΊπŸ‡¬

Some History on Josephine

Josephine Nakakande….there are so many amazing things to say about this woman, but we’ll try to keep it short! Josephine is a walking saint, in the flesh. She has dedicated her life to service to others, specifically focusing on empowering disprivelaged women and children through agriculture. Josephine works with Eco Agric Uganda and trains women in various capacities to help elevate them from poverty by providing valuable skills and resources to empower them financially and with food security.

Josephine first found out about mushroom growing in 2008 during a workshop where she learned of Oyster mushrooms. In 2010 she was granted 4 years of funding through the Vibrant Village Foundation and intended to train 300 women and girls. She was approached by someone who suggested Button mushrooms were a fantastic idea to grow and can be grown and exported easily. She learned the hard way after trying with over a half of a ton of substrate, and only producing 2 mushrooms, leaving the yearlong effort to feel like a failure. But then the Oyster mushroom became an interesting idea after a suggestion, and she tried it. Successfully producing mushrooms, while still falling short of the expectations, it served as a beacon of light that this was something that is possible and with some work, can be a workable, realistic avenue to explore for her work.

In 2015 Josephine was granted funding from the Murr-Munning Trust and was able to train 150 women and 150 youth promoting vocational studies and urban
farming for economic empowerment and it this was a total success! But, there were still issues with substrate selection, spawn production and overall yields. Josephine has been given some great advice from many online friends over the years, and one of the best pieces of advice she received was to use cardboard as a means by which to produce spawn from spores. This is a low tech and effective way to generate mycelium which can be relatively clean and well suited for low tech pasteurized mushroom grows! Since learning this technique Josephine saw a tremendous boost in her work, but was still experiencing some issues…and that’s about the time my friend Darren over at Welcome to Mushroom Hour introduced me to Josephine!

My Work With Josephine

When I first started talking with Josehpine, outside of attention for her projects that was desperately needed, she was struggling with yields and producing mushrooms while minimizing contamination. I trained her on making and using a Still Air Box, and after some work we were able to improve her success rates from 40% to over 70% and it’s getting better with each monthly meeting! Not only this but we’ve been able to improve yields and overall production by trialing substrate mixes which are both more available/cheap/free and highly productive for Pleurotus mushrooms. So far as of writing in May 2021, I have donated around $2500 towards her training efforts to build demonstration sites and train 300 women in Uganda. Many others in the mushroom community have stepped in and provided services, skills and financial contributions to help propel Josephine towards her goals (and further) in record time. If you have donated to these efforts directly with time or money, you will have my respect for as long as I know you! Don’t be shy to let me know if you helped! If you ever purchased anything from my store here, or supported me on Patreon, you’ve directly helped me help others like Josephine.

I have worked with Josephine since late 2020 and have been working with her closely in 2021 with no plans to stop our regular meetings and offering my expertise when it’s needed. I am excited to also announce that we will be merging efforts, with Josephine volunteering to both train and equip Raymond in Kenya with the means by which to produce spawn from spores! It’s amazing how things end up working out, even when no other options seem available, a door opens at the right time to make it work out favorably, it may not always be the timing we want, but I believe that the work we are doing is guided by forces unseen. Call it what you want, I can’t help but feel like this work is what it’s meant to be. I will be starting a proper non-profit in the coming months to better focus efforts and allow more to be done than I can do alone.

Stay tuned for that and if you or anyone you know may be interested or willing to help Josephine in any capacity, please drop us an email! If you know of anyone like Josephine who has their heart in the right place, and an ambition for mushrooms, please connect us together so that we can start thinking about how we can work together.

Video Gallery

I just had to share these videos. The first video listed gives a first-hand look at the progress of Josephine’s work, and really gives perspective and insight as to the work that goes into growing mushrooms in Uganda. In addition to this, you get to see Josephine’s excitement as she teaches and the appreciation, joy and excitement of those being taught is HIGHLY CONTAGIOUS. Definitely give the video a watch if you haven’t! The other videos are thank you videos from Josephine and the women she’s helped to support with our financial and educational contributions to her work! Thanks for supporting me to help me help make all of this possible!