Miami, Florida-based photographer James Jackman recently ventured into the world of mushrooms for a story on fungi culture for Edible South Florida, an independently-owned local food magazine that’s part of the Edible Communities network. This project was James’ second time working with Gretchen Schmidt, editor of Edible South Florida. He was thrilled at the opportunity to collaborate with a like-minded individual and a publication that shares his enthusiasm for agriculture.
Gretchen and I share a passion for small, local farmers and all things tropical agriculture, so I was a natural choice for this assignment.
For this assignment, James visited Gratitude Garden Farm, an organic farm located in Loxahatchee, Florida, about 15 miles directly west of Palm Beach. The farm grows many crops, including medicinal fruits, veggies, microgreens, and ginger but they’re best known as purveyors of rare turmeric varieties.
The edge of the farm is lined with banana trees, planted mainly as a windbreak for the 50 or so mango trees in their orchard. At the heart of the farm are garden beds with thousands of pounds of turmeric under the cool, dark soil.
However, it was their gourmet mushrooms that caught the attention of Edible South Florida. From culinary varieties like Black Poplar, Blue Oysters, and Black Trumpet, medicinal mushrooms like Lion’s Mane are commonly used to treat various health problems. These “Magnificent Mushrooms” landed them a feature story and the cover shot for the latest issue of Edible South Florida.
Some of the mushroom varieties are very delicate and sensitive to the hot Florida weather. We shot the story on location in the morning and then immediately whisked the freshly harvested mushrooms back to my studio for the cover.
Joseph Chammas and his wife Tawna started the 5-acre farm after Joseph was diagnosed with stage 4 colon and liver cancer. He went through complex conventional medical treatments, and after an arduous journey, found his way to natural methods that eventually changed their diet and lifestyle. They went raw vegan and started growing their own food. This eventually led to the creation of the farm and a newfound passion for plant medicine.
I learned so much about fungi culture! Joseph Chammas was very happy to explain all the intricacies of his process. Maybe someday I’ll try my hand at it!
James’ photos of Gratitude Garden Farm show us a glimpse at the transformative nature of plants and the fascinating world of fungus. While James was visiting the farm and learning about mushroom growing, Joseph also snapped a photo that was published in the story alongside James’ photography. The image shows a close-up of a tree frog perched on some mushrooms.
Apparently, they hang out in the grow rooms eating up any flies that find their way inside. It was nice to see how well our photos worked together in the finished article.