Jimm Stack, who co-founded 100th Monkey Mushrooms, has a crystal-clear memory of the moment he decided to take the leap of faith to become a mushroom farmer. He chose to leave behind his 15-year career as a schoolteacher—the stability, the safety net, set holidays, and health insurance—and take a leap into an unknown entrepreneurial abyss. At that moment, though he had some trepidation, he also had a strong sense that the leap was necessary and that something was there to catch him. That something turned out to be an intricate web of mushroom mycelium.
At 100th Monkey, Jimm wears many hats. He’s a scientist, a carpenter, a businessman, a salesman, a marketer, a video editor, and obviously a dedicated mushroom farmer, fungi fanatic, and evangelist. Jimm explains his fungal enthusiasm: “For some reason, I’m drawn to the fungal kingdom. It’s everywhere, but you’ll never get to the bottom of it and you could spend your whole life trying to figure it out.” Jimm’s interest in growing mushrooms was sparked by listening to talks by Paul Stamets, mushroom-growing guru and author of several books, including Mycelium Running: How Mushrooms Can Help Save the World. From Stamets’s talks, Jimm began to understand the potential of the fungal kingdom for food and medicine, and even for things like soil remediation and the purification of dirty water. Jimm wanted in, and he eventually journeyed to Washington State to study under Stamets before launching 100th Monkey.
Born in Austin, Texas, in 2011, 100th Monkey moved to Boulder, Colorado, in 2014. Jimm launched the company at local farmers markets, expanded to online sales, and then added wholesale.
One of 100th Monkey’s core values is the education of people. Jimm likes to experiment, make mistakes, learn, distill his new knowledge, and share it with others through educational videos and tutorials, and eventually workshops. Jimm wants to remove the intimidation factor from growing mushrooms at home; he envisions a world where people think about growing a mushroom garden in the same way they think about growing an herb garden.
Jimm is also committed to combating “mycophobia,” the fear of mushrooms. (It’s a real thing; look it up!) While selling mushroom kits at farmers markets, he discovered that about 50% of the people he interacted with were really freaked out about mushrooms. In places like Eastern Europe and parts of Asia, mushrooms are revered for their culinary and medicinal value, but that’s not what he sees in the US of A. Jimm says, “Most of us grew up being told not to touch mushrooms because they’re poisonous.” But, he adds, that’s just part of the story, and it’s high time mushrooms got the love and respect they deserve right here at home.
Jimm seeks integrity and alignment in all he does at 100th Monkey, even when it comes to packaging. With this in mind, Jimm’s leading the company toward simpler, stripped-down packaging. Much to his chagrin, neither he nor anyone else in the mushroom-kit world have been able to figure out how to remove plastic packaging completely unless they mailed everyone glass aquariums to grow their shrooms in. The dilemma is that plastic provides an ideal environment for mushroom growing, but using so much disposable plastic feels antithetical to the values Jimm holds dear. Finding the balance between sustainable packing, cost, and practicality is a constant struggle, and one that’s driving the future of 100th Monkey. As the company moves forward, Jimm will eliminate much of the products’ pretty retail packaging and instead offer simple, no-excess bags that do the job just as well. But this will require customers accepting the less lovely, more sustainable, more cost-effective option.
100th Monkey’s products were initially inspired by the company Back To The Roots. 100th Monkey started with an oyster mushroom kit, but has since moved to shiitake and to other more medicinal mushrooms like reishi, turkey tail, and lion’s mane. In fact, these highly medicinal mushrooms are at the center of 100th Monkey’s vision for its future, as Jimm wants to make homegrown medicinal mushrooms widely available.
We’re delighted to partner with 100th Monkey Mushrooms and offer their Elm Oyster Mushroom Garden Kit in our shop. It’s the perfect kit for beginners and a great way to cultivate a deeper understanding of the fantastic world of fungi. Check out the video below to learn more.
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