The Future Role of Mushrooms

Global food production is under increasing stress, from rising fossil fuel costs, to climate change that alters weather patterns and increasing occurence of extreme events. Perennial plants are plants that do not need to be planted every year, they are trees or shrubs that, once established, are very resistant to changes in weather fluctuations, diseases or pests, they require very little to no maintenance. The future of global food supply will rest increasingly on perennial ecosystems. It turns out that Finland already has large amounts of  these ecosystems; they are called forests. However, even though there is a rich berry and mushroom picking tradition, there is currently very little done to promote farming the forest in a sustainable way, until now.

Mushrooms in regenerative agriculture

Finland is the land of mushrooms, and can produce them in abundance. They are nature’s supreme decomposers and can turn wood into food. No other organism can do that. In regenerative agriculture mushrooms will play a vital role in providing food and medicine for humans. Mushrooms fit perfectly in any food forest, you can grow them on logs, branches and woodchips that can form paths or mulch. They thrive in the shade and in moist places. There are hundreds of cultivated edible and medicinal mushroom varieties that still not have the market they deserve.

Mycorrhizal Mushrooms

Fertile soil is full of life, it creates and supports abundance of aboveground food, animals and biomass. When plants build soil, carbon is fixed from the atmosphere and water is infiltrated and stored for later use. A large part of these functions are due to fungi that live in the soil and in symbiosis with plants. In exchange for sugars, or exudates, mushrooms provide essential minerals and nutrients to the plants. The best example of soil building plants are trees. they live for a very long time and can create vast networks of fungi underground, also known as the Wood Wide Web. All forests have fungal dominated soils. Unfortunately conventional agriculture has eliminated trees and the network of fungi through plowing, the use of artificial fertilizers and fungicides. This has to stop. Since mushrooms can grow at incredible speeds, mushrooms may turn out to be our biggest ally in our effort to inhabit spaceship earth.

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