(See the article from the June 2005 Onion Skin!)
David Demarest -
David Demarest began using his degree
in environmental science at the South Burlington Living Machine working
under the leadership of John Todd to develop an integrated agricultural
system that used farm and food processor wastes as starting materials.
The Advanced Farm Ecosystems team successfully produced gourmet oyster mushrooms, red wiggler worms, fresh tilapia, and edible greens which were sold locally on a pilot scale. Dr. Guy Roberts then joined Advanced Farm Ecosystems to research and design methane digesters applicable for use on small farms and AFE expanded into a program of The Intervale Foundation.
After working at The Intervale Foundation to develop a scaled up mushroom production farm, David found current methods of indoor cultivation of oyster mushrooms to require more resources and energy, based on annual operations and construction of the required infrastructure, than he could personally justify from an environmental impact standpoint. As a result of this and the desire to fully utilize the 51 acres he built his straw-bale home on, he founded Green Mountain Mycosystems, LLC.
One primary goal he had in starting GMM was to improve upon traditional outdoor mushroom production methods, which are currently very energy efficient but labor intensive, in a way that both reduces the amount of work required per pound of mushrooms produced and allows more people to enjoy the many benefits he has personally found in consumption of forest-grown mushrooms. In addition, he finds the positive impacts his products have and continue to have in the lives of his customers to be a great motivator in GMM's continual evolution.
Jason Pappas -
Jason Pappas graduated from Goddard College with a degree in Music and Health Arts and Science. While at Goddard, he wrote an extensive manual for musicians health that combined his love of music with his passion for health and wellness. The manual outlined a daily practice for musicians to foster their creativity through nutrition, healing arts, herbalism, and physical therapy.
In addition to his music and health studies, he spent a year studying guitar making with several expert luthiers and now builds acoustic instruments in his small studio. While living in Vermont and studying health, his love of nature led him to study native medicinal plants and mushrooms throughout the region. Through his own use of traditional medicinal mushrooms, he was able to reclaim his health by supplementing it with powerful natural medicine.
His love of fungi led him to study mushroom cultivation with renowned mycologist Paul Stamets. At this intensive course, he received a thorough education and a certificate for indoor and outdoor mushroom cultivation. Currently, Jason is supplementing the knowledge that he brings to Green Mountain Mycosystems by studying to become a certified herbalist at the East-West College of Herbal Studies where he will study North American, Chinese, and Ayurvedic herbalism.
Pete Dombrowski -
Pete spent half of his childhood in the woods observing nature, and the other half with his nose in a field guide. He always wanted to add mushrooms to the list of foods he could harvest from the wild, but his mushroom books weren't very comprehensive and he didn't trust the identifications he made with them. Eventually Pete went to Cornell University, where he intensified his study of ecology and natural history. He took every course that began with "Field ..." and ended with "...ology," and ever since Field Mycology he has been fascinated with all things fungal. He got a degree in biology and since then he has worn the hat of an entomologist, wildlife biologist, environmental educator, and bicycle messenger.
For a time he worked at the University of Pennsylvania, studying the population structure of wild Saccharomyces yeasts - brewer's yeast and its close relatives. Although this is the most studied fungus in the world, it is usually only studied in laboratory settings, and nearly nothing is known about it's ecology. This is just one more example of how it is more enlightening to study an organism in its natural environment. At Upenn, Pete learned the microbiological skills that he contributed to Green Mountain Mycosystems' lab.
Since working for Green Mountain Mycosystems, Pete has moved to Arizona with his wife and newborn child and we wish him the best.
Our farm has also benefited substantially from the wisdom and skills of a number of consultants and advisors.
Dr. Guy Roberts has provided consultation on every major aspect of our business, from technical mycological lab questions to product marketing. Our team has been truly honored to benefit from his inspiration and wisdom in our work.
Dr. John Todd's vision for the future and our farm has been an important guiding light. In addition, the large amount of knowledge David gained in his prior employment with John has been pivotal to the formation of GMM.
Pam Knights marketing experience and connections have helped us develop a previously weak component of our farm. Without effective development of our marketing plan we would be forced to rely on distributors to the point of endangering the economic viability of our farm.
Brian Norder, and the infrastructure provided by the Food Venture Center, has been essential to our farms ability to add value to our mushrooms and bottle our teas at a reasonable scale.
Eli Williamson-Jones has developed our website and labels to effectively convey factual information while also illustrating many of the intangilble qualities of our farm.
The critical review
we received from Nancy Wasserman and Jeff Stuadinger of
our business plan gave us additional confidence in the strengths of
our business while helping us to transform our prior weaknesses into
The Intervale's Growing Success on Farms Program, funded by The Vermont Housing and Conservation Board and the John Merk Fund, helped our farm by providing many of the consultant hours for the development of our working business plan.