Tumbling Creek Mushroom Farmers Nurture the Land

Tumbling Creek FarmTwo of the many local farmers teaching at this year’s Sustainable Food and Farm Conference are Cliff and Marlene Bottenfield of Tumbling Creek Farm. Tumbling Creek is a 38-acre certified organic and certified Biodynamic farm that grows seven varieties of mushrooms in addition to a wide variety of perennial and annual fruit and vegetable crops. Their farm has earned the distinction of being the first certified organic and Biodynamic mushroom farm in the United States.

Marlene and Cliff’s workshop at the Farm Conference will teach farmers (and ambitious home gardeners) how growing edible mushrooms like oyster, shiitake, lion’s mane, wine cap, and reishi in straw and wood chips can be a valuable part of a farms’ eco-system.

The Bottenfields started growing mushrooms on Tumbling Creek farm in Nevada City in 2012. Cliff originally wanted to grow just a few shiitake mushrooms for the health benefits, and Marlene suggested that they grow a few more varieties. When they brought the mushrooms to the Nevada City Farmers Market, people loved them, so they grew more and more.

Their goal with the farm is to grow everything, including the mushrooms, as sustainably as possible. They grow with Biodynamic practices because they feel strongly that it is the best way to nurture the land. Many people are not familiar with what Biodynamic means, so they also grow according to less stringent organic principles because the organic certification is what customers are looking for. Marlene and Cliff hope to bring the state of their farmland back to the same health it enjoyed before mining destroyed so much of the land. And they are doing it as naturally as possible, without purchasing any outside amendments (their sheep provide fertility): “We’re not experts; we just try to listen to the land, the plants and the soil. If you listen, the land will tell you what it needs.”

You can find Tumbling Creek mushrooms at farmers markets from Spring to Fall, or year-round at SPD in Nevada City and at the Briar Patch market in Grass Valley. Or, look for them atop a pizza or nestled into a delicious sandwich at Three Forks Bakery and Brewery in Nevada City. For information about classes and workshops, plus some great mushroom recipes, visit their website at www.tumblingcreekfarm.com.