Report #2 and Photos

Following is the message PCV Welcome Bisson sent on December 5, 2007, with the photos below.

Mushroom planting has occurred :)

After waiting for the rainy season to come to an end, mushroom spores were set to do their thing, planting supplies were bought and ‘the great planting’ of 2007 occurred. It was quite the community affair.

Materials are measured and then mixed together in a big blender-like machine (sawdust, spores, Epsom salt, yeast, etc) and then dumped onto a big workspace on the floor. A group of ladies attack the big pile with the tops of soda bottles used as scoopers and fill plastic bags with the slightly warm sawdust mixture. After many, many bags are filled, the packing begins. The bags are pounded on the floor and then with a stick to pack the mixture in tight. It reminded me of packing a cup of brown sugar when baking. However, it didn’t taste nearly as good.

After the bags are packed tight, they are given a plastic cap with a small wad of cotton and they’re ready to be baked. Thousands of bags at a time are placed into a big oven for several hours and then cooled for several more hours. Then, the bags are ready to move to their new home where they, all 5,000 of them, will grow what we are all eagerly awaiting – mushrooms!

The planting of the mushrooms is very manual and is taken care of by the ladies, of all ages, from many families. The men lug the heavy bags of supplies and tend to the oven ensuring that it is always hot. Throughout the planting we have been very fortunate that the weather has been cool and bearable.

As the bags were placed in Waan’s mushroom hut, I asked her if she was excited. In true Thai fashion, she provided a reserved response, but finally smiled a bit and said yes. A little while later I noticed a ring on Omijan’s (Waan’s daughter) wedding finger, which I had not noticed before. I know that Omijan has a boyfriend and has had for seven years, but the ring is new. I asked her if she had gotten married. Omijan replied, ‘No. Wait until we pick the mushrooms. Then we will have enough to get married. And to have a baby!’ I’m so happy to be a piece of the bridge that is helping them reach their goals.

:) Welcome