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WY Food Businesses, High Country Fungus, Featured in Meaningful Marketplace Podcast

Jennifer Faulkner

May 6, 2024

High Country Fungus

As the Meaningful Marketplace Podcast Show continues its mission connecting food entrepreneurs with resources for success, we explore the six-state Regional Food Business Center one state at a time. Having spent the first two months of this year with Oregon foodpreneurs, we begin learning from Wyoming’s best by joining with co-co host Melissa Hemken from Central Wyoming College. Melissa is the community food systems specialist at the college. Her role is to support market infrastructure and sales channels, boosting food companies from their current level to their next level. Wyoming has a state law that is a big help to entrepreneurs by allowing their cottage industry to flourish. Sounding similar to the Tennessee law discussed in episode #177, entrepreneurs can sell directly from their kitchen to the end consumer without licensing or inspection. The entrepreneur also can sell on consignment through a retailer, expanding their reach far past traditional farmers market sales. Melissa’s program also has put on well-attended multi-day workshops touching on all aspects of the food industry from farming to production to consumer acceptance. Today, the trio is interviewing Daniel Stewart, founder of High Country Fungus offering functional mushroom products for everyday living. They are a small, family-owned and operated business in Riverton, Wyoming and their goal is to offer the highest quality mushroom infused products plus fun merchandise. A physics major in college, Daniel was taking a botany class in 2012 at Washington State University. On an outdoor hike with a group of friends and family in Idaho one of the party came running up with their hat full of morel mushrooms, talking excitedly about all sorts of recipes and what they planned to do with them that week. Daniel had never seen a mushroom before and was fascinated. That moment was Daniel’s "ah-hah!" moment and sparked his continued love and curiosity for mushrooms. Idaho was a perfect spot for mushrooms to grow and while Daniel was working in a restaurant, he began foraging for them. He joined an association, started reading books and began introducing mushrooms into the restaurant. Daniel subsequently moved to Missoula, Montana and had been thinking about starting his own company for some time. He started his first company there in 2019 supplying mushrooms and offering not only mushrooms but also the necessary products for cultivating mushrooms. Then the “roadblock” hit, as happens to all entrepreneurs. It was the beginning of the foraging season for the business. Not only did COVID begin to hit, but while out foraging, Daniel stepped in a wasps’ nest, then blew out his knee running away, requiring surgery. Moment of truth: Keep moving forward to quit? For Daniel, he used the recovery time to think about his next move. The business did not survive, having missed the foraging season, so he and his family moved to central Wyoming, where his wife grew up. It was a high desert climate as opposed to the rain forest Daniel had experienced before. So naturally, he turned to indoor cultivation, which the scientist in him loved as it opened up a whole new world to explore. This was in April of 2021 and started in Daniel’s garage. Daniel has been fortunate to have many mentors along the way and encourages all entrepreneurs to find and work with a mentor if possible. High Country Fungus products are USDA Certified Organic, 100% Mushroom Fruiting Body Extracts. Their mix is made of Lion's Mane, Cordyceps, Turkey Tail, Reishi and Chaga. This mix is at the core of their lifestyle and the foundation of their infusions. The High Five Mix is for all-day energy and clarity; reduced inflammation, bloating, and over all wellness. Shop their products on their website: highcountryfungus.com/, Follow them on IG @high_country_fungus and FB@highcountryfungus. Our hosts: Twitter - @sarahmasoni and @spicymarshall, Instagram - @masoniandmarshall.

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