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MUSHROOM HUSTLE: Mo Peacock talks mushroom farming and Wilmington Mushroom Company

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Joan talks to Mo Peacock of The Wilmington Mushroom Company, which grows a variety of mushrooms for local restaurants and farmers’ markets. Courtesy photo

 

It wasn’t until the novel coronavirus hit that a lot of people in the U.S. began to think about the mystery that is the supply chain. The question of where the food and household items that make our daily lives possible come from became prevalent, as major chain grocery stores were unable to stock them. Hence, the great sourdough-ing of 2020.

Mo Peacock has been thinking about where his food comes from for a long time. He was raised in Carteret County, where he tended vegetable and flower gardens with his family.

“As soon as I could, I started my own garden,” Peacock tells.

Now the Oak Island firefighter and paramedic has a side hustle as a mushroom farmer. Wilmington locals may have seen his budding business, Wilmington Mushroom Company, on Instagram. Peacock posts gorgeous ‘shrooms growing around his farm, as well as delicious depictions once they make it to a plate.

Lion’s mane mushrooms are native to the Cape Fear area and are in season come fall. Courtesy photo.

We sat down with him to chat all things (legal) ‘shrooms.

encore (e): How long have you been in the mushroom game? How did you get into it?

Mo Peacock (MP): I have been growing mushrooms as a hobby for four years and as a business for one year. I’m a firefighter/paramedic as my full-time job and my schedule allows me to make good use of my time away from work.

Growing mushrooms is a passion I found once I started learning just how important a diverse diet is, as well as all the medicinal benefits of mushrooms.

e: Are you a one-person team? 

MP: My farm help consists of my wonderful girlfriend, Jessie Van Hulst, as well as some family and friends.

e: Do you forage or also farm?

MP: I had some friends help introduce me to foraging and I was hooked. Foraging led to researching how to grow and scaling up from my garage and garden all the way to where I am now with 400 square feet in two grow rooms.

e: What kind of mushrooms are native to this area? Do you grow any that aren’t? 

MP: As far as native species, I have a lion’s mane strain that I originally gathered off of Oleander Drive. I also have a few oyster mushrooms strains I have cloned from Burgaw and Southport.

I grow some species that aren’t native, including chestnuts and shiitakes.

e: When is mushroom season?

MP: Eastern North Carolina has a very wide range with our mushroom foraging season. Oyster mushrooms will grow year-round: lion’s mane in the fall and early winter, Chanterelles in late spring and early summer, and Chicken of the Woods in the heat of the summer, just to name a few.

e: When it is mushroom season, how do folks find you? Is Instagram where you post most updates, or do you also use Facebook, newsletter, etc.? And where do you peddle your ‘shrooms? Farmers markets?

MP: People can find our mushrooms at local restaurants that support local farmers, like PinPoint, Benny’s Big Time Pizzeria, Tarentellis, Kitchen at Palate, True Blue Butcher and Table, Panacea,  Kornerstone Bistro, Humble Roots Farm, Tidal Creek Co-op, and Lovey’s.

We also attend the Wilmington Farmers Market on Saturdays when we have a surplus.

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