A Unique Crop
Ryan Tarabocchia, a resident of Gorham Township, has begun reaching out into a niche market of growing edible mushrooms. Though locally-produced mushrooms are something that may not be on the minds of some, Ryan has proven his products have become quite a popular item within our community as of late. Though still new to this market, Ryan has spent years researching. That, teamed with a lot of trial and error, has gotten him started in growing a fine crop of edible mushrooms. And in the last few months, things have really begun to ramp up for him and his business, Northwest Gourmet Mushrooms.
Due to a spinal injury, Ryan was forced to leave his phisically-demanding job in construction. It was a sign of the times. Ryan would need to provide for his young family in some other way. Always fascinated with mushrooms, Ryan began to build a business on this passion, after spending over 6 years of researching. He couldn’t have done it alone, however, and he is quick to credit a few key persons and organizations for getting him as far as he is today. The Community Economic Development Commission’s (CEDC) starter company program provided Ryan with much advice on beginning his business, plus a generous grant to help turn his passion into a working operation. He is also quick to credit local business owner, Jim Stadey, who provided him with plenty of mentorship and encouragement along the way. And finally, through much help and support of his family and friends.
In the last year, Ryan has successfully built up his very own “mushroom farm”, a small building that has begun housing his unique crop. Northwest Gourmet Mushrooms specializes in three types of oyster mushrooms, including European-based blue, silver and steel. Within this new building, Ryan is able to create and maintain ideal conditions for the growing mushroom cultures of which he grows his crop from.
Ryan has big dreams to expand his crop, both in quantity and mushroom variety. But for now, he is extremely proud of what he has accomplished up to this point. Currently, Northwest Gourmet Mushrooms aims to provide over 600 lbs of product per week to local restaurants such as Bight, Nook, Tomlin, The Sovereign Room and many more, as well as shoppers at the Thunder Bay Country Market. Ryan is grateful for the support these local businesses and retail outlets have provided him with, and dreams to one day be able to supply many more local businesses within Northwestern Ontario with his specialty product, aiming for over 6000 lbs per week, long term. At this point, however, Ryan is taking small and careful steps towards growing his business, in order to ensure he is able to provide the local community with the highest-quality and freshest mushrooms possible. His mushrooms are grown without the use of fertilizers or pesticides, and are guaranteed to add character to any dish on your table.
Since Ryan has only just recently begun selling his product at the Thunder Bay Country Market, his presence depends on how much product he has available that week. For the most part, you can find him there on Wednesday evenings, from 3:30pm to 6:30pm. If you’re lucky, you’ll find him there as well on Saturday mornings, from 8:00am to 1:00pm. Both days, his booth is located on the first floor, just past the main entrance across from Tarrymore Farm and Slate River Dairy. Take note, Ryan will be moving into the old General Store location across the room, come mid-August.
If you’ve become interested in what Northwest Gourmet Mushrooms is up to, stay tuned, as Ryan also hopes to begin tours and become more involved with his customers in the future months. It’s another great vendor of ours who has proven that hard work, determination and proper research can overcome the odds of beginning a unique business that provides a unique, local product for our community!