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December 14, 2019
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Moss Landing mushroom business expands to Santa Cruz

SANTA CRUZ—Far West Fungi mushroom farm of Moss Landing is branching out. They recently opened their first-ever store in downtown Santa Cruz. 

In the works for the past two years, the new spot will feature about 16 varieties of fresh mushrooms, dozens of dried mushrooms, medicinals, prepared foods and mushroom growing supplies.

“We’re hoping to cater to the lifestyle of the folks here in downtown Santa Cruz,” said Ian Garrone, who owns Far West Fungi along with his father, John, and other family members. “People seem to be open to our new location and our products. It’s exciting for us.”

Far West Fungi mushroom farm, located on eight acres and boasting 60,000 square feet of growing space on the outskirts of Moss Landing, is perhaps best known for its shiitake mushrooms, which can fetch up to $10 per pound. The farm ships out approximately 3,500 pounds per week to 12 farmer’s markets around the Bay Area and stores such as Whole Foods.

But thanks to his gastronomically adventurous Bay Area clients—and demand for certain species used in Chinese herbal medicine—John Garrone also grows several other not-so-common varieties such as Nameko mushrooms, which are highly prized in Japanese cooking.

In total, the Garrone family grows 10 varieties and sells up to 70 varieties at its retail store in the Ferry Building in San Francisco and will now feature many of these at the Santa Cruz location.

Far West Fungi began about 35 years ago, when John Garrone worked as a dispatcher for the San Francisco Police Department. At Hunter’s Point shipyard, he met a mushroom grower and his interest was kindled in the art of mushroom production. About 16 years ago the family started their Moss Landing farm.

Robert Backert stopped by the Santa Cruz store a day after they opened and purchased a bag of chanterelle mushrooms.

“I actually stopped by their soft opening and I think it’s great they’re here,” he said. “There’s nothing like this around here.”

Ian Garrone said the store will offer about seven “wild foraged” mushrooms, including lobster, matsutake, porcini and black burgundy truffles. On their cultivated organic list are maitake, lion’s mane, large and small shitake, cinnamon cap, tree oyster and more. Their conventionally cultivated mushrooms are portabella and brown mushrooms. The myco fids menu incudes mushroom barley soup, mushroom potpie, lion’s mane lobster roll, mushroom toast and mushroom ceviche. They also feature beverages under their “Wild Drinks” menu.

“We’ve learned a lot from the various farmer’s markets, pop up markets, and festivals,” Ian Garrone said. “We tried to refine our product line to offer what people are asking for at a fair price. So far we’ve been busy and we’ve enjoyed a good reception in the community.” 

For information visit farwestfungi.com.

Tony Nuñez
Tony Nuñez
Managing Editor Tony Nuñez is a longtime member of the Watsonville community who served as Sports Editor for five years before entering his current role in 2019. A Watsonville High, Cabrillo College and San Jose State University alumnus, he covers the city, business, housing, entertainment and more.

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