It’s Always Sunny & 70 Degrees At Tlush Family Farm

Katie Tlush from the Pennsylvania-based urban indoor farm tells us about creating the perfect environment for oyster mushrooms.

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by Phillip MlynarMay 5, 2022
PHOTO: Tlush Family Farm

Located just outside the city of Philadelphia, Tlush Family Farm is focused on mushrooms, microgreens and edible flowers. Commandeered by husband and wife founders Katie and Jonathan Tlush, the venture was launched by necessity during the early days of the Covid-19 pandemic.

“I was a dental hygienist for 15 years. When Covid hit, my husband Jon and I decided it would be best for me to stay home with our two children,” explains Katie. She adds that the journey to transform from gardeners to professional growers became about combining an “internal fulfillment to the family and producing income.”

Taking a moment out from running Tlush Family Farm, we spoke to Katie Tlush about the benefits of climate-controlled indoor growing and creating the perfect environment for mushrooms. We also touched on turning a passion into a profession.

Keeping It Sunny & 70 Degrees

 

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Tlush Family Farm is an indoor urban venture. “At first, we got the chickens and then spent about six months figuring out what we wanted to grow and how,” says Tlush.

“Here in Pennsylvania we have four seasons. But we’re 100 percent indoor agriculture, so it’s always sunny and 70 degrees in here. And we get to grow all year round. I’m so happy growing this way.”


Read more: We tried 3 indoor smart gardens. Here are the results.


Make Way for the Mushrooms

 

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“Mushrooms are fascinating to grow,” says Tlush, reflecting on the decision to make fungi an essential focus of the farm. “We do everything from cultivation and the lab work and creating spawns and mixing it all together to harvesting.”

Tlush adds that when it comes to creating the perfect environment for growing mushrooms, focusing on temperature, humidity and airflow is key.

“If you can create this perfect storm and get a mushroom to develop in a fruiting chamber, it’s super fun and super cool.”

Spotlight on Oyster Mushrooms

 

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The farm currently specializes in oyster mushrooms. “What makes it different is that we grow them out to a full flush,” says Tlush. “We get these beautiful large caps, with some as big as my head! It’s just wild.”

Next up: Experiments in maitake and king oyster mushrooms. “Not being a large farm, we have to make sure everything is scaled appropriately,” explains Tlush of the process.


Read more: Grow lion’s mane mushrooms using the “totem” method.


Supplying Creative Chefs

 

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Supplying local chefs with mushrooms that have been harvested barely 24 hours ago, Tlush says that “there’s nothing more fun than watching something you have planted and watched grow and then seeing what [chefs] create from it.”

She adds that versatility is important when it comes to maximizing mushrooms. “You can even use the stems of a mushroom to create broths.”

A Passion Pursuit

 

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Looking over the their farm journey so far, Tlush says that she’s grateful to have been able to combine family with work. “It’s so rewarding to take something you’re super passionate about and combine it with the flexibility of being a very present mother and enjoying being able to be there for my kids.

“Plus partnering with my husband on something we’re so passionate about—there’s just nothing better.”

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