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Monday
Apr242017

Exploring the Upper River – Mississippi Mushrooms

Article by Kathleen BoeMinneapolis Riverfront Partnership

There has been a tremendous amount of discussion about the revitalization of the Upper Harbor Terminal area, and the attention is deserved. But there are already businesses at work in that area, bringing new life to the former industrial center.

One site worth visiting is Mississippi Mushrooms. This is a certified organic mushroom farm located in the Upper Harbor Terminal alongside the river in North Minneapolis at 3800 First Street North.

The farm is run by Ian Silver-Ramp, a 2010 University of Minnesota graduate who is applying his degree in Applied Plant Science in creating an ecologically friendly growing process. He began the business five years ago, moving to the Upper Harbor Terminal site a year and a half back.

Mississippi Mushrooms is really a grounds-up operations, literally. The growth process for these specific mushrooms, Grey Oyster, King Oyster, Nameko, and Pink Oyster varieties, involves taking the discards from other businesses to make the base material. These are wood-eating mushrooms, and the base material includes scrap lumber, locally sourced and turned into sawdust, as well as the spent grain from a local brewery. That base material gets sterilized and is then injected with fungus, allowing it to grow and blossom into a mushroom.

After the mushrooms are harvested, the base material is turned into compost, and that is something which can be sold to plant stores and other outlets. The compost smelled just like spring and made me want to go home and start spring planting.

But a mushroom farm of this type doesn’t really resemble a farm as you and I would know it, or even your garden, window box or greenhouse. The facility is indoors, of course, with rooms walled off for each growing stage. Each of those stages requires different levels of light, humidity and temperature, as well as carbon dioxide levels. And Silver-Ramp can monitor all of that from his mobile device.

The climate controlled operation also means mushrooms can be grown and sold fresh, year-round.

The farm is in a part of North Minneapolis which is still dominated by heavy industrial work, so during the week, the area is teeming with construction vehicles. However, Mississippi Mushrooms is only open to the public on Saturdays and Sundays from 11-2, and on those days, the roads are much more quiet. To get to the site, drive onto the property from Dowling, stay to the right of the domes and drive back to the big warehouse. Look for the Mississippi Mushrooms sign on the door, on the side of the warehouse which faces the river.

This is a great opportunity to see a farming operation in the city, while also see a little bit of the Upper Harbor Terminal site. It’s also a chance to get a sense of what could become of this mile of the Minneapolis riverfront, with a great view of downtown.

If you’re looking for a place to eat to pair with this visit, of course, you can check out one of the many fine restaurants that locally source their mushrooms from Mississippi Mushrooms. But for a choice that’s a little closer by, check out Serendripity Spot, which is at 33rd and Lyndale Ave. No. It’s open six days a week (close on Fridays) and was recently rated as having the Top Waffle in the Twin Cities. But in addition to waffles and coffee, Serendripity is committed to eliminating waste, with no landfill waste or even recycling. (If you want coffee to go, bring your own reusable travel mug, or buy one on site.)

Kathleen Boe is Executive Director of the Minneapolis Riverfront Partnership. She can be reached at kathleen.boe@minneapolisriverfront.org via email, or minneapolisriverfront.org on the web.

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