The Coastal Butterfly was treated to a Tour of the Mushroom Farm by local real estate broker, Bill Cook. 10 years ago he was hired to sell the
Mushroom Farm. A year later, he persuaded the owners not to sell, but to keep the property. They hired him as the Land Manager. 10 years later Bill is restoring the land with natural grasses, teaming with the Amah Mutsen Indians (one of the 8 groups of Ohlone) who neighbor his land, courting commercial cannabis growers and any other ag-related business that might be interested in leasing space in the mushroom buildings….
We started with breakfast at Coastanoa’s Cascade Bar and Grill. (Amazing Egg’s Benedict btw; got the yolk right, smokey ham ;-).) We loaded in Bill’s Polaris Ranger Crew. This is a 9-person, 4-wheel drive fun machine. We drove through Coastanoa to its north border and went through a gate leading to the Mushroom Farm. Up a little hill and you get this view.
The Mushroom Farm consists of 2-miles of beachfront. You can see Ano Nuevo. There are three coastal terraces that take you higher and higher into the hills. On a map, the property looks like a “horn of plenty”.
This is from the first terrace. We are above Gazos Creek, with Coastanoa on the property’s south border.
Third terrace view below. Zoom in to see Ano. The bushy plants in the foreground are a St. John’s Wort variety from the Canary Islands. It is an invasive, non-native that takes ground away from the natural grasses. Bill is battling this plant, in order to bring the natural coastal grasses back. The grasses have deep and complex roots that keep soil in place, reducing erosion.
I agree, Bill. Beyond words.
The battlegrounds below. The Wort and Pampas grass. Wort seeds drop down to the ground below the plant. The Pampas blows millions of seeds into the wind. It is possible that this Wort may be useable as a tincture to treat depression. Bill is exploring that too. Maybe this invasive plant can be harvested for value and to help people.
Winner, winner, chicken dinner! The battle is won below. The Wort encroaches on the perimeter. Its all an experiment to see what works. Bill has learned that is you don’t plant the grasses right after the wort eradication, the pampas moves in and then you have a greater mess.
Bill gets this done with a few tools, like a tractor, but ultimately its volunteers. Show up at the Mushroom Farm any Friday, Saturday or Sunday, and Bill will put you to work.
A lot of work went into this natural grass field. Cypress and Monterey Pines, in the distance, are non-natives, as well. Pampas experiment yonder. Nature is a tough task-master. Bill is a passionate student with decades of land use experience and knowledge. He likes to learn.
At each stop Bill would get us out of the Ranger and tell us a story. You can see how high up we are. Eventually, Bill hopes to have the trail marked so people can walk around and explore. And also docents to lead hikes to tell his stories.
Back to the first terrace. A field of wild radish.
Below, we have driven north, through the property. Halfway, we pass the Highway 1 Brewing Company, opposite from Gazos Creek Beach.
The Mushroom Farm. This building has had its roof removed. The Farm closed in 2008.
This is what it looks inside. Brick bones of the buildings are still in excellent condition. Here you can see the dilapidated mushroom growing racks.
Detour. Bill likes to have fun. Found this fire truck in a Pescadero field. It was covered in dirt, black widows and rat poop. Its pretty now after 5 cleanings. Buffing to come.
The inside, sans black widows and poop.
Once cleaned, it started up!. The brakes worked with a little added brake fluid. Expect to see this at parades.
Whooo, whooo. Light works.
Check, check on the siren. Who doesn’t want to have their own fire truck?
Driving through the Mushroom Farm. Lots of potential. Commercial Cannabis? Other Ag ideas?
The Mushroom Farm has 96 growing units, each 1,600 square feet.
Inside the growing room. Two racks per room. Imagine each shelf filled with compost and mushroom trays. Workers would have to bend over and reach in to pick the mushrooms. Hard labor. 470 workers used to work at the Mushroom Farm. Story Here.
Miraculously, Bill has tested and found no asbestos or lead paint which is one heck of a statement for Campbell’s corporate policy. Bodes well for the next inhabitants.
Mushroom Farm’s corporate front yard. They grew quinoa very successfully for Lundgards, last year.
Corporate offices. Half Moon Bay Auto’s Dave Eck’s table decoration. Check out the wood laminated propeller and hat stand.
This is what the mushroom trays looked like. Button mushrooms.
Bill’s office view.
Did I mention how Bill likes to have fun? Well, he actually likes to have fun with his friends.
Yep. More fun. These vehicles went all over the world until Bill found them. Bill now uses them to take people on tours of the Mushroom Farm. Old bus seats installed for comfort.
Thanks Bill for the Tour. Wander down to the Mushroom Farm and have an adventure of your own.