While many hunt, one Eastern Iowa man farms his own morel mushrooms

Josh Osborn shows his self-made morel mushroom farm in Vinton on Friday, May 8, 2020. (Aaron...
Josh Osborn shows his self-made morel mushroom farm in Vinton on Friday, May 8, 2020. (Aaron Scheinblum/KCRG)(KCRG)
Published: May. 8, 2020 at 5:03 PM CDT
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Many morel mushroom hunters have already been hitting the trails- but one farmer is taking matters into his own hands.

A farmer in Vinton says he has crafted a science that has led him to grow hundreds of pounds of morels this season - and he expects next year to get into the thousands of pounds.

There are a lot of steps that go into being a good morel mushroom hunter: knowing what trees to look for, where to find those trees, and the best time to hunt.

But there are not many that have taken a path like Josh Osborn.

"[I've] been interested and hunted them all our lives since we were kids, so I was wondering why nobody was growing them," Osborn said.

He has turned the annual hunt into a year-round effort.

"I've got notebooks of stuff researching the morels," Osborn said. "Because that's basically why I started it... I've always been a morel mushroom lover, and when I was a kid it was just morel. That's all I wanted."

Both indoors and outdoors, Osborn became a mushroom farmer, now working under the label "Blues Best Mushrooms," originating from his middle name: Blue.'

His prized crop, morel mushrooms, would likely take others years to collect.

Osborn said it started with a morel more than ten years ago, inspired by his brother.

"The first one I grew was in the basement of my house in town," Osborn said, who admitted he thought it was easier than he expected. He learned in the years after, he got lucky his first time around.

But like all farms using the right mixture, things grew.

"Once I got a decent handle on how to get them to grow, I've been trying to expand it ever since," Osborn said.

Osborn monitors their growth, harvests when the mushrooms are ready for harvest, and works with area grocery stores to sell them- taking the hunt out of morel season and turning it into a science.

"I've already started stuff for next year," Osborn said. "As soon as I see mushrooms popping, I start a culture for the following spring."

Making him less of a farmer and more of a morel magician.

Those interested in learning more about Blues Best Mushrooms can