First of all, why “cherry tree house mushrooms?” The name was created almost before the mushrooms were a twinkle in Jeremy’s eye. In the summer of 2008 we had really gotten into urban foraging. We’d be walking in some neighborhood and see an apple or plum tree, or raspberries, or some fruit that wasn’t being picked. We’d knock on the door of the house and ask if we could pick the fruit. There was a house a block away from where we lived with a magnificent cherry tree, all neglected. Knocks (and notes) on the door went unanswered.
Fast forward about 6 months. Jeremy had gotten interested in growing mushrooms and had purchased his first 100 logs to inoculate. We found out the house we were living in was being sold and we needed to find a new place quick. The house down the street, the cherry tree house, was for sale. And that’s where the name came from: when talking about where we were going to go, we referred to our house-to-be as “the cherry tree house.”
We bought the house and Jeremy ended up only inoculating 50 logs that spring as there was so much work to do on the house. He quickly took over the whole side yard with pallets and racks and soaking tanks. The logs sat. And sat. And sat! Finally, one lovely September morning, we stepped outside and there were shiitakes growing!
The first couple years Jeremy was determined to be an urban farm. He expanded into multiple neighborhood yards. We’d hit up anyone with a shady or unused yard. With 50 to 100 logs here and there throughout a couple neighborhoods, Jeremy was kept busy walking, biking, or driving around to all his laying yards to maintain logs, replace shade fabric, water, and pick mushrooms. We talked about getting some sort of land, but the needs of a mushroom farm are very different from the needs of vegetables, and all the shade needed – it’s just not as pretty from a distance as vegetables. City land is also incredibly expensive. In the end, complaints from a few neighbors and constant citations from the city for “improperly stacked firewood” forced us to find a better home.
The farm moved to Maplewood, Minnesota in 2012 to a farmer’s co-op of sorts. Grow! Twin Cities was at an old nursery site with woods, a lake, some field area, and green houses. It was actually nice to have all the logs in one place! The larger area allowed Jeremy to design a shade structure which made it easier to work with the logs. This is also when he started fruiting in large carport tents. The tents provided a good way to control humidity and regulate wind and air temperature.
We got a phone call the day after Thanksgiving in 2013 informing us that the land in Maplewood had been sold and we had till the end of the year (that is, about one month) to move! This happened to be the winter of back-to-back polar vortexes. By the first week of December there was already a lot of snow and it was EXTREMELY cold. Even so, we had many amazing volunteers who helped us wrestle out every single log and move everything to our new location in Ham Lake. Oh – and we had far more than 50 logs by now; we had a couple thousand!
CTHM joined the newly forming Sandbox Cooperative Farm and enjoyed hanging out with other vegetable farmers, a rabbit farmer, a bunch of pigs, and hops! When our source of logs unexpectedly dried up in the spring of 2014 (giving us some spare time), we decided to launch a Kickstarter campaign to help purchase a 30 by 100 foot hoop house for fruiting mushrooms. Jeremy had been using the carport tents (and replacing them or duct taping them together) for years. But they were just too small, too breakable, and too inconvenient for the size the farm had grown to. Over 240 people backed our project and we were able to get that amazing fruiting house, which made a huge difference in the mushrooms and the farming! Jeremy also redesigned and made improvements to the shade structure.
By the summer of 2015 Jeremy was ready for his next planned farm expansion, but unfortunately there just wasn’t space at the farm in Ham Lake. It was time to move again. But with somewhere around 5,000 logs and plans to double that – not to mention a giant shade structure, hoop house, farm trailer, and loads of other equipment – we knew our next move HAD to be the last move!
We kept our eyes peeled, visited some prospects with a friend, and talked to real estate agents. We visited one particular farm on a blistering hot day in August of 2015 and really liked it. We went through a bit of a roller coaster the rest of 2015 as funding seemed possible and then not possible and then possible again, and finally in 2016 we were able to buy the farm!
We had many, many work days and many amazing volunteers who helped us move thousands of logs and everything else we’d accumulated to the new farm in Clayton, Wisconsin.
Jeremy got a little bit excited about all the space we now had (38 acres!) and the farm soon had chickens, ducks, and pigs! The previous farmers couldn’t take everything so we found we also have asparagus, strawberries, garlic, and lots of herbs.
The new farm is an hour and a half from the Twin Cities. With nearly 40 acres, there is ample room for expanded mushroom production as well as animals and other vegetables. The farm has barns, a house, and other housing, allowing several folks to live there.
Hopefully our future doesn’t include any more moving, but instead settling into our beautiful new farm and growing lots of beautiful mushrooms.
Contact Farmer Jeremy McAdams at 612-205-8599 or fill out the form below:
Cherry Tree House Mushrooms LLC, 827 15th St., Clayton, WI, 54004