This is inside one of the mushroom barns at the big farm. The lady is harvesting.
We drove to the factory to see the magic. There, expert cultivators stir a special sterilized compost, a different recipe for each type of mushroom. They carefully pour the mixture into strong plastic bags, then inoculate it with spores and seal the bag tightly.  All the bags are dated and you can order ones that will begin to produce when you want them to.

If you'd like to know more about mushroom farming, here's a great short film on mushroom growing in Thailand. It shows how people could change from poaching to farming. Just click on the title:  Five Minute Film on Sustainable Mushroom Farming.

This village is high in the mountains and very beautiful.

At the factory we bought 400 bags for about 25 cents each. We loaded them into on old pickup truck, along with about six volunteers and drove a couple of hours to the mountain village.  It's a little hard to get to and the roads are very steep and twisty.  Right now it gets cold at night there, and not very hot in the daytime, so it's the ideal time to start the mushroom hotel.

When we got there the kids from the village ran out to meet us, along with their parents.  There were some university students there from France, living in the village and studying the lives of the Karen people.  

In the front is Project Coordinator, Aj. Thongin Nuntarat, behind him a volunteer from Bangkok, Mr. Go.

The mushroom hotel went up fast because there were so many helpers.  The children hauled strong bamboo poles to the site and the volunteers from Chiang Mai built a framework.  Next they put in shelves for the mushrooms, and finally they hung thick plastic sheets for the walls.  The place has to be kept very clean so the mushrooms don't get contaminated. 

After everything was ready, the kids formed a line from the truck to the mushroom hotel and passed along the bags to be put on the shelves.  Later they'd help spray water on the ground and a little on the bags, which will have to be kept slightly moist until the mushrooms come out.  

When the mushrooms appear and are big enough they can be harvested.  Normally there can be 3 or 4 harvests from each bag, which is a lot of mushrooms. 

Now the kids will wait and check every day and help with the watering, excited to see their first mushrooms.

Mushrooms are a very healthy food and have lots of good nutrients.  They are also delicious and can be 
cooked in many different ways, or just eaten plain in a salad.

The children and some of the volunteers in front of the new mushroom hotel

After the mushroom hotel was set up we built a small organic vegetable garden on raised beds.  The kids will learn from their teachers and parents how to grow vegetables without using dangerous chemicals.  They will also learn about hydroponic gardening, and how to start the seedlings in mixture of water and organic fertilizer.

They are just starting to plant the little seedings.  This is lettuce.

Now all five of the raised beds have been planted and everyone is taking a break for a photo.

Next month, on January 14-15, there will be the big Children's Day at Khun Sab and at villages all over Thailand. The children are already very exited, and there will be volunteers and friends from many places to share in the festival. It will include special games and lessons to learn more about farming, and a lot of games just for fun.

Our beloved King died not so long ago, so we try to keep things a little more quiet and respectful this year in his honor, but we know he would want us to have fun too.  We are planning some special ways to honor his memory on Children's Day, which actually lasts two full days.