> posted by   on April 4th 2012

Mushroom Farm

Last year in Seattle two architects decided to rent the ground-floor storefront space in their Pioneer Square office building and turn it over to an ever-changing roster of pro-bono design projects, residencies, community collaborations and other initiatives. Alan Maskin, an Olson Kundig principal who is one of the directors of [storefront], calls it “a living room that the community doesn’t have”. A recent effort was Record Store, in collaboration with the Seattle Art Museum that featured thousands of vinyl records that people could listen to, both on their own and at curated listening parties.

The latest opened last month is Mushroom Farm, an installation in cooperation with CityLab7. This project, which the group has been working on for nearly three years, examines the impact of the everyday act of buying a cup of coffee. Instead of ending up as trash, spent coffee grounds from three neighbourhood cafes became a growing medium for oyster mushrooms. The grounds were gathered, pasteurised, mixed with sawdust and grain, placed into 215 plastic bags and inoculated with mushroom spores. (The grower is Alex Winstead of Cascadia Mushrooms.) The bags were installed in a 12-by-16-foot plastic-covered structure, designed by Olson Kundig out of recycled plywood and built inside the storefront space by the general contractor Schuchart/Dow, one of the project’s partners. A 20-foot-long wooden table made of reclaimed timbers provides a gathering spot for events as well as a place to eat on the three days each week that the space becomes a community lunchroom where people can bring their own food and learn more about the project. (The mushrooms aren’t for sale, but after they’re harvested, a portion will be donated to needy families; the coffee grounds can be repurposed as compost for soil remediation in urban areas.) And Frank adds that the project creates value by suggesting ideas for urban agriculture and bringing together businesses (in this case, competing cafés) that don’t normally collaborate.

Inspired by New York Times


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