Liz and Michael, owners of Mile High Fungi, live and breathe mushrooms. They are on a mission to provide quality mushrooms that are good for you and the planet. Check out the Eat Local Challenge interview with them to learn about their story and the future of Mile High Fungi.
What is the Mile High Fungi story?
I give credit to my wife for the crazy idea. We both worked in farming and have degrees in sustainable agriculture. After doing some serious soul searching and market research we decided to give it a go. Although we had no formal training in mushroom cultivation we hit the books and earned our “street degree” with a lot of trial and error, a process we affectionately called “failing forward”.
In 2014, we started the production using the cottage food act, which allowed us to use our home as a small business incubator. It began in a couple of rooms, then we added two shipping containers, and now operate out of a 2400-square-foot steel barn in Conifer. Currently, we produce 400 pounds per week and want to grow slowly and sustainably. We want a hand in all of it to keep quality high and make educated decisions along the way.
How does Mile High Fungi support a good, clean and fair food system?
We are passionate about the food we produce because of its positive impacts on the environment and community health. We are always striving to do business the best that we possibly can. The exotics that we produce are best done regionally because a lot of the mushroom varieties we cultivate don’t have a super long shelf life, which makes local production and consumption the best course of action.
We also try and make sure that one of us mans the booth at our farmers market so that we have a direct relationship with the folks who are supporting us. In addition, we do our best to use local cereal grains and media for our substrate. For us, it is beyond just supporting organic. The local circle [farmers, producers] all works together, and we support each other. We succeed when they succeed.
What does Mile High Fungi’s future hold?
The end game is to produce 1000 pounds of mushrooms per week, while still maintaining the highest quality available. The [consumer’s] growing desire to eat regionally and know your farmer has helped us find a place in the marketplace. Our whole thing is that we don’t want to be a huge mushroom farm; we just to focus on quality. We have heard from chefs that, “this is the best mushroom” that they can buy. We’d like to keep it that way. We want our product to speak for itself, and the rest should follow.