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Starting Anew: From Grass Seed to a Brand-New Journey Cultivating Mushrooms

Updated: Aug 14, 2023



Oregon Farm Bureau members Ryan and Katie Glaser do not shy away from a challenge. While there have been many in their life and in agriculture, one of the most significant challenges was when they realized something needed to change which led them to their journey of growing mushrooms.


RYAN & KATIE’S STORY


Ryan’s home and farm is the original homestead of the E.L. and Luise Glaser Family. They were Ryan’s great, great grandparents who originally bought 258 acres with $200 down and settled along Sand Ridge Road right outside of Lebanon in the spring of 1895, making Ryan the 5th generation after 128 years. They originally raised wheat and it has been said they were the first in the area to obtain hives of honeybees.


Ryan worked closely with his dad and other family members on the farm for much of his life until 2006 when his father passed away. After this, Ryan took over most of the responsibilities his father had, which included keeping the books and assisting with the day-to-day operations of the farm.


Like most farming families, Katie’s family comes from a long line of farmers. Katie’s father, Stan Boshart, was one of six kids. Through the years it was quickly realized that the family farm was not big enough to support all family members. Katie’s dad and his brother Gene decided then to break off from the family farm and starting Boshart Trucking. Eventually her dad and mom, Lori, bought Gene out of the trucking business, making them the sole owners. In 1993 they started a bailing company, and like most farm kids, Katie helped with harvest in the summer. Today, Katie’s parents farm grass seed and hazelnuts.


STARTING ANEW


Early in their marriage, Ryan and Katie both felt things needed to change on the farm. Because of smart investments from previous generations, the farm had done very well. However, they realized that times were changing, and they would need to adapt. Around 2016 they came to the difficult realization that they would need to speak to Ryan’s uncle and cousin about separating from the farm. “Going through the farm split and buyout was incredibly difficult for everyone involved. But we couldn’t see a successful path forward with the way things were and decided we had to make a choice. Either buy the farm or walk away and try something else” says Ryan.


In November 2019 they finalized the transaction and split the farmland between families. They also purchased Sand Ridge Farms, which is where they conduct their day-to-day operations.


JOURNEY INTO MUSHROOM CULTIVATION


Ryan and Katie knew in order to keep the farm sustainable they needed to expand into other areas. With her volunteer work in Oregon Women for Ag, OFB and diving into the political world, Katie felt strongly that she wanted to help bridge the divide between rural and urban life, which led her down the path of looking into agritourism.


A good friend of mine put the mushroom idea in our head. We spent some time looking into what it would take to start a mushroom operation and if we thought it would be profitable. We found that there is a lot of research, studies, science and technology going into mushrooms and we feel that this is just the beginning of the mushroom industry. We believe mushrooms will play a much bigger role in the future. Besides their culinary value, studies are finding many medicinal benefits with mushroom consumption as well” says Katie.


Along with growing mushrooms, their dream is to one day open up their farm for year-round agritourism. “I believe some of the divide between rural and urban Oregon is that we don’t understand each other. I love the idea of having a 128 year old conventional grass seed farm mixed with a mushroom farm while including some fun attractions on top of that. We can create a fun atmosphere for all while being able to share our story and educate consumers about agriculture” says Katie.

OPENING DOLINA FARMS


The word Dolina means “valley” in Polish, (the Glaser family can trace their heritage from Poland) and Ryan and Katie both wanted to incorporate that family history into their new farm. In November 2022 all the paperwork was finalized for Dolina Farms LLC, which includes the mushroom operation and the agritourism.


MUSHROOM OPERATION

One of the first things Ryan and Katie learned is that “growing mushrooms is very different from growing grass seed.”


The process starts by creating the growing medium block for the mushrooms to grow on. They use oak sawdust and soybean hull as the growing medium. Once this block is created it is sterilized through a pressure cooker or autoclave. The block cools down overnight and the next day they inoculate the growing medium by putting the mushroom spores and inoculated grain spawn into the block. The varieties they currently grow then incubate anywhere from 10 days to 4 weeks depending on the type of mushroom. Once the spawn has spread throughout the whole block it’s then time to move into the grow room. Within a few days pinning starts to occur – this is when you start to see the first signs of the mushrooms.

It takes between 7-14 days from when the block first moves into the grow room until it’s ready to harvest. Currently they are growing Lions Mane, Pioppino, and multiple varieties of Oyster mushrooms. These mushrooms are great for culinary purposes with their rich flavor profiles.


As Dolina Farms expands, it plans to grow other varieties that are more known for their medicinal properties like Turkey Tail, Reishi, Enoki, and more. The new varieties will open up the door to create powder blends and tinctures that are more focused on medicinal uses versus culinary.


The fresh mushrooms that don’t sell get dehydrated. This opens up another market for Dolina Farms. After a mushroom harvest, the mushroom blocks are broken down and are then used in their garden. They plan to start selling mushroom compost in the near future. “Our goal is to capitalize where we can and limit our waste to the best of our abilities” says Ryan.


VOLUNTEER WORK & POLITICS


The value and importance of volunteer work does not go unnoticed by Ryan and Katie.

Both spend many hours going to meetings, helping with events, hosting teachers through Summer Ag Institute, giving oral or written testimony at the Oregon Legislature, and more. Ryan has served on the Oregon Ryegrass Growers Association and Katie became involved with Oregon Women for Ag. After they were married they both became involved in Oregon Aglink and with Farm Bureau at the county and state level.


Katie was part of the REAL Oregon Agricultural and Natural Resource Leadership Program, which ignited a spark in her to run for the state legislature. She loved the experience and it made her want to be more involved in having agriculture’s voice heard throughout political arenas.


LOOKING TO THE FUTURE


The Glaser family is large and has a presence all over the Willamette Valley. Many aunts, uncles, and cousins have their own farms and are active members of the community. Ryan and Katie said they feel a responsibility to keep the farm viable and to do big things with it. In their view, the best way to accomplish this is to share what they have with anyone who is interested. “This farm started with nothing and was built into something great over several generations. We want to carry on this legacy and continue into the future” says Ryan.


Dolina Farms is located at 31880 Sand Ridge Rd, Lebanon 97355. The farm stand offers self-serve mushrooms and is open 8:30-6:30 Tuesday through Saturday. Make sure to check out their Facebook page or dolinafarms.com for farm updates, and to find out which farmers’ markets they are selling at.



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