An Edible Wood Farm can be a worthwhile and fascinating addition to an existing organisation or business. It is a way to use natural resources in a responsible way, with no waste and a low technological input. An Edible Wood Farm can be started wherever there are people and trees…..
Groene Takken (Green Branches) is the name of the small company run by Pip Gilmore. Pip comes originally from (the outskirts of) Melbourne, Australia where she completed a forestry course at the University of Melbourne. Once in the Netherlands Pip continued to be interested in wood, trees and forests and was able to combine this with her interest in natural food sources by creating Edible Wood.
The chief purpose in developing Edible Wood is to add value to poor quality timber. Groene Takken is not a company that sells mushrooms but makes Edible Wood so that other people can continue to grow edible mushrooms at home or elsewhere.
Edible Wood is the name for tree logs that have been inoculated with the spawn of a particular fungus. The fungus produces a mushroom that we can eat. Most of the mushroom species used for Edible Wood can be found in surrounding parks and forests on dead or dying trees. One species, shii-take, is not native to Europe but can be safely grown on the logs of many tree species, especially oak. The trees that are used are the result of a forest management system that removes underdeveloped individuals in order to help create a healthy multi-functional forest for the future. These trees would normally have been turned into biomass / firewood. It usually takes somewhere between 6 – 18 months, depending on the mushroom species, the wood type and the diameter of the log before the inoculated log can be sold to the consumer as Edible Wood. The consumer can then place the mushroom log in a shady place in the garden and regularly harvest the mushrooms for a number of years until all of the sugars have been removed by the fungus. The log can then be used as compost for the garden.
Groene Takken controls the production process from tree to mushroom log. The trees must be healthy when they are felled and inoculation must occur under suitable weather conditions. Usually between 800 – 1200 logs with a length of 100 cm are inoculated each year in the months of March and April. That is too many for Pip to do alone and she works with many carefarms, workshop participants and several volunteers to get the work done on time. The carefarms and Groene Takken share the costs and earnings. There are currently several small-scale Edible Wood Farms in the eastern part of the Netherlands and the number is steadily increasing. The Edible Wood Farms produce mainly shii-take on oak logs.
Groene Takken also helps small businesses, individuals and Urban Food Farmers to create their own small Edible Wood Farm. It is an attractive addition to an up-and-running organisation especially when the trees can be sourced locally and the products can be sold close to home / consumed on site. The key is to control the growth of the Edible Wood Farm and to make sure that there is a continual supply of logs and labour combined with a suitable growing environment. Once everyone has grown accustomed to running an Edible Wood Farm, the costs are low, working hours are marginal and satisfaction is bountiful. The end products are not only the mushrooms and/or Edible Wood but also the surroundings. Many visitors are often in awe of all of the “flowering” logs and enjoy themselves thoroughly choosing the biggest, fattest and/or juiciest looking mushroom.
We eat the mushrooms and the mushrooms eat the wood = Edible Wood
Edible mushrooms on logs
A second life for wood
In the garden, the forest or on the balcony