STORY AND PHOTOS BY SYDNEY PLANKA
Smallhold is a company that grows and distributes mushrooms locally from their farms located all around the USA. They are based out of New York City and now have a location in Buda, Texas, just south of Austin. Smallhold as a whole is led with passion, unity, and knowledge. Their main mission: to grow and harvest fresh mushrooms, spread awareness about mushrooms to the masses, educate people on how beneficial mushrooms are to the body and mind, and help bring people and communities together.
I had the privilege of touring the Smallhold farm located in Buda, Texas, where I was accompanied and led by their farm manager. They led me through the farm while informing me everything there was to know about the company and how things work. The farm consists of fifteen chambers with multiple species of mushrooms. The facility is energy efficient and has proprietary technology that has specific settings for each mushroom chamber. The control settings in the chamber help prevent overworking the system while also minimizing energy use. Looking into each chamber’s window, you’re able to catch a glimpse of what the different mushrooms look like. I was able to observe and learn about royal trumpets, lion's mane, king oysters, and yellow oysters. Within the chambers are rows of organic compost and sawdust in plastic bags that look like mushroom blocks. Once the plastic bags are opened the growing process begins. Oxygen is a key factor for mushrooms and activates the growth process, which only takes a total of seven days. In just one week the mushrooms are ready to harvest and sent out to customers, grocery stores, and restaurants, including Counter Culture, Taro, and Odd Duck. Smalhold partners with Central Texas Mycological Sciety on a compost program, who spreads the word about spent block pick ups that can be reused after each harvest and hosts educational workshops. The point of this program is to reuse mushroom blocks and compost to reduce food waste. They have also released a cookbook with how to incorporate mushrooms into every meal. Isn’t it interesting how mushrooms look like little brains, and how they help boost our brains? It can’t be a coincidence that nature mimics certain things within ourselves.
Just as we communicate with one another, mushrooms do too - in their own mushy way of course. The farm manager mentioned that, “They are like humans in the way that they breathe oxygen,” which is another reminder that nature is healing and the things we need are simple.
During SXSW, I attended, “The Future of Food” seminar, and was able to sample a plethora of small dishes with Smallhold mushrooms included. The dishes were unique with vibrant flavors and interesting textures which all blended together perfectly. Each fresh ingredient complemented the next which made for a well-balanced taste and snack. Trying new foods is such a fun experience and can broaden your horizons more than you think. Food can and should be treated as medicine. Learning more about the power of mushrooms and healthy foods can be the start of the healthy change that you’ve been waiting for. With passionate employees, fresh and high quality mushrooms, energy efficient systems, and a compost program, it’s clear to see why Smallhold can be a positive force in the food world.
Smallhold is in fact, where the magic of mushrooms happen.