June Update

June Update

It's been a very full five weeks for Heartwood since I last wrote a newsletter. Here's what's happened:

  • Lead a 6-hour MycoArtisty workshop at Fulcrum Skill Share
  • Finished a mycelium canvas prototype and gifted it to a local artist for testing
  • Launched a new product: Mushroom Spice
  • Hit up the Massey Spring Fair
  • Lead a mushroom gardening talk at the Espanola Horticulture Society
  • Tradeshow Applications
  • Doing my 2nd Myco Artistry workshop Saturday, June 29th
  • Launched the Adopt-a-Block program
All this while running normal business operations.
I feel so energized right now.
Let's dive into it.

Lead a 6-hour MycoArtisty Workshop

I facilitated my first Myco Artisty workshop at the Fulcrum Skills Gathering! I'm grateful for the small group of beautiful humans who were interested and engaged and brought curiosity and enthusiasm. 
Although I titled it MycoArtistry: The Workshop, it was more like three workshops in one.
The first part was basic mycology and fungal biology.
Second was the intro to mushroom cultivation. I wanted to teach a principled approach so that participants could understand the medium we were working with.
Third, I shared the principles of mycelium composites. We took an hour-long break for lunch. This gave them time to ponder what and how they would make in the afternoon. 
I was so impressed by the creativity and resourcefulness. They also came up with ideas for working with the mycelium that never occurred to me that were objectively much better than the way I was teaching. We each made moulds for a flower pot and a canvas to paint on. 
Since it takes 1-2 weeks of extra incubation and curing time, I created a group chat where we have been sharing videos and photos of our pieces. This has allowed us to continue learning together.

Finished a mycelium canvas prototype and gifted it to a local artist for testing

I gave this to a local artist who is painting a picture in 3 parts using watercolour, oil and acrylic.
The goal is to see how different mediums feel about working with this canvas.
There are also two sides to this canvas: one has burlap, and the other is hemp.
I'm so curious to hear about her experience.

Launched a New Product: Mushroom Spice

We've noticed that people don't get very excited about mushroom powder. 
To be fair, it's not an everyday food.
People need help imagining what the experience of using it will be like.
So, we mixed it with salt and other spices into a ready-to-use blend.
Shake it on sauteed vegetables or burgers. Use it as a dry rub on steaks or tempeh. Hell, I've even been seasoning my mushrooms with it!
People ask, "What do I do with it?" to which I say, "I put it on both sides of my burger."
People understand that at a visceral level.  
They can imagine themselves enjoying a delicious seasoned burger.
They understand on a physical level how they will get value from it.
I went through making a nutritional label and getting a barcode so it's retail-ready. That was easier than I thought, it only took about half a day for both. Mushroom Spice is ready for business!
We finalized our mushroom spice recipe, including the label, nutritional information and barcode. That was easier than I thought. It only took about half a day for both. I had no idea how to navigate that at the start of the week, and now it's retail-ready. Neat!

Massey Spring Fair

This was a whole lot of fun.
The Massey Agricultural Society invited me to vend at their Spring Fair.
I validated the mushroom spice mix, which almost sold out. Within days of the fair, I received orders for more. 
MAS also organized a mushroom grow kit along with 70 grow kits.
We created a private Facebook group where the growers posted their questions and successes.
It was a lot of fun and easy to manage so many people's questions all in one place.
Everyone tends their mushrooms differently, too. Some houses are dryer, some are warmer, and everyone has a different spray bottle.
It's almost like we conducted parallel science experiments! I want to do more group grows in the future. 

Lead a mushroom gardening talk at the Espanola Horticulture Society

This was a talk about basic mycology and mushroom gardening. We had a full room of about 25-30 people who were very enthusiastic, interested and engaged.
I mostly do hybrid workshops were there are teaching and doing pieces. Given the positive response, I was pleasantly surprised that just talking landed so well.
If you want me to come talk, present or facilitate, reach out to me.

Trade Show Applications

I applied to vend at the Royal Winterfair (Toronto), the One of a Kind Show(Toronto) and the Home and Cottage Show (Little Current).

We've already got the thumbs-up for the Royal!

The Royal was so good for us last year.
There is a HUGE difference between a local farmer's market in Northern Ontario and a full-on trade show in Toronto. Wow.
We left there having our ideas of what's possible and how to do it flipped on its head in the best possible way.
Our 2024 goal is to do 2-3 tradeshows, and next year, we will do 5-6. 
If there are any shows in Ontario you think we should check out, send us a message!

2nd Myco Artisty workshop Saturday, June 29th

Using the momentum of the first workshop, I'm moving right into the next.
It will be 2 hours shorter and will include a delicious catered lunch by Simon of Mast Hospitality.
The event takes place at Nic's Farm and Vineyard.
I'm also working on delivering this workshop in Ottawa, Massey, Eliot Lake and Toronto! Stay tuned for those!

Launched the Adopt-a-Block program

This program distributes already-grown mushroom blocks to the community, where they grow mushrooms, build soil, cycle carbon, and provide nutrients to people, gardens and wildlife.
We need the continued support of our community to continue and grow this project.
Consider telling family and friends up on Manitoulin Island to support this initiative.
Also, if you or someone you know wants to be a drop spot for these blocks, please reach out!
Together, we can continue to put mycelium in the hands of the people!

A small film crew coming up this weekend to produce video and photo content for Heartwood.

Two of my friends are coming up for the weekend to shoot videos of Heartwood for marketing content and to make a short independent documentary.
Here are some angles we are considering:
  1. From an educational perspective, our target audience would be schools (college, university, public) for workshops and seminars. The drive to share knowledge and educate others is the motive
  2. Shane's story: how he came by mushrooms, how he manages growing a business on Manitoulin
  3. Shane's story and our video journal entry are a meta-type of angle that shows our interest in shooting something like this. Making the journey from Toronto would be a very cool project for us all.
 I'm looking forward to what comes out the other side! I'll apply for some art grants, which I've never done before. Yay! More growth!

What's Next?

Here is a list of a few things that are on our list. I'll check back in on the progress in a few weeks.
  • Posting on social media 25/week
  • CSA starts on June 27th! Woot woot!
  • A blog post once per week
  • Tempeh production 5kg/week
  • Create 10 myco-canvas moulds and being production for the One of a Kind show
  • Update website with retailers and partners
  • Update product photography
  • Get our mushrooms spice into 5 stores
Alright, that's it for now!
I will send out newsletters more frequently, every 2-3 weeks, to keep the length digestible. 

Shane O'Donnell

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