Growing mushrooms is a simple—and yet radical—response to our times
SHELBY HARTMAN - CO-FOUNDER & CEO OF DOUBLEBLIND
It’s not a coincidence that all of a sudden a mushroom growing movement is spreading like wildfire across the country—and the world. Companies like North Spore are making it easy for folks to grow mushrooms at-home. They basically deliver a bag—with mushrooms ready to fruit—to your doorstep, and you can watch the whole miraculous process go down with little more than an occasional mist of your crop. Meanwhile, grassroots activists such as those behind Decriminalize California, the campaign to decriminalize psilocybin—the psychoactive component in shrooms—started teaching classes on how to grow, using popcorn and big plastic tubs. The movement to decriminalize psychedelics at the local level is largely a response to all the capital pouring into the forthcoming “psychedelic industry.” (It won’t matter how much psychedelic pharma charges for shrooms if everyone’s growing them in their homes.)
Recently, even mainstream media has caught onto the trend. Just this month, The New York Times published a piece on the utter joy of growing mushrooms in the midst of this devastatingly uncertain moment. And then, coincidentally, less than a week later, WIRED published something similar.
The truth is: Growing mushrooms is a simple—and yet radical—response to our times. Once you’ve learned the skill, you can grow your own food (in a world where we’re all incredibly disconnected from where our food comes from), you can grow your own medicine (in a world where folks are desperately seeking alternative mental health treatments), and you can, simply, reconnect with the magic of nature (in a world where Zoom calls have become the predominant way to socialize).
It’s for all these reasons that DoubleBlind, the magazine I started, decided to launch a course on How to Grow Mushrooms last year. We put it into the world, in March, just as we were all processing the reality of the pandemic. We had made it in December of 2019, before we ever could have anticipated what was coming. We also never could have anticipated what our mushroom course would become—a community of thousands of people who support one another through every stage of the grow process, from buying spores to harvesting and drying. Some of our former students became so excited about their success and the community that they’ve become mycology TAs alongside our mycologists to provide live support to our current students.
Sure, the course comes with modules and downloadable PDFs. But what we quickly realized is that what people want more than learning—is to learn together. Yes, people come out the other end of our class with mushrooms—more than they could ever possibly know what to do with. But more importantly, they come out feeling empowered to take their health and wellness into their own hands. And to me, that’s the best kind of education—not just when you learn a new skill, but when that skill shifts your perspective on what you’re capable of and, perhaps, what society is capable of, too, if we dream big. The right kind of mushrooms might help with that.
DoubleBlind is a media company and education platform at the forefront of the rapidly growing psychedelic movement. With contributors around the globe, DoubleBlind covers stories from South America’s ayahuasca tourism industry to the Silicon Valley microdosing trend and the groundbreaking research at leading universities. At the core of DoubleBlind’s reporting are some of the most important issues of our time: the depression epidemic, the corporatization of medicine, and the aching people feel for spirituality or some other collective sense of meaning—all presented in visually compelling, rigorous long-form features, poetry, art, and photo essays. DoubleBlind hosts events, transforming these potent topics into community engagements for psychonauts and the psychecurious.
Shelby Hartman, Co-Founder & CEO of DoubleBlind
Shelby Hartman is the co-founder and CEO of DoubleBlind, a media company and education platform at the forefront of the rapidly growing psychedelic movement. Also a reporter and editor specializing in psychedelics, cannabis, drug policy, and mental health, her work has appeared in VICE, Quartz, the Huffington Post, and Rolling Stone, among others. Hartman worked in broadcast news production for CBS News, covering presidential elections, protests, natural disasters, and other breaking news. Spurred by a passion for print and investigative reporting, she transitioned to magazine writing, working as an editor at Pasadena Magazine and receiving her Master’s Degree in long-form journalism from Columbia University in 2015. Since, Hartman has worked as a columnist at LA Weekly and an editor at Herb with extensive features on the cannabis industry, the psychedelic research boom, the popularization of ayahuasca, and post-traumatic stress disorder in the veteran community.
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