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Smiling New Vendor Holds Mushroom Contest at the Mar Vista Farmers’ Market

Sun Smiling Valley Farm brings organically grown mushrooms—and a recipe contest—to market.

You may notice a smiling mushroom perched outside Sun Smiling Valley Farm’s booth next time you stroll through the Sunday Mar Vista Farmers’ Market. The new vendor brings a selection of organically grown fruits and vegetables, but the spotlight (or sun, in this case) is shining on the mushrooms.

In its fourth week at the farmers’ market, Sun Smiling offers three types of cultivated mushrooms: king oyster, beech, and shimeji. The king oyster mushrooms are, as one would expect from the name, giant-sized oyster mushrooms packaged and ready to go. Beech mushrooms are smaller and lighter in color, and the shimeji mushrooms look like a darker, “Mini-Me” king oyster.

Sun Smiling also sells an assortment of organically grown vegetables and fruits. White peaches and nectarines, yellow peaches, plums, jujubes, sweet potatoes and Asian pears were on display this week. The booth has figs, as well as a few Japanese specialties like Kyoho grapes, Japanese pears and eggplant.  Dried mushrooms and dried bittermelon (good for boosting amunity) are also available.

You can pick up a mixed pound of all three mushrooms for $8 or a ½ pound for $5.50.  A ½ pound of two mushrooms is $4, and individual varieties are $3.50 each for a half pound. King Oysters are $7 per pound.

Sun Smiling Farm is located in Sanger, near Fresno. Despite its name, the farm grows thousands of mushrooms indoors each week. It can take between 1 to 6 months to cultivate these different varieties, during which time they are nurtured in climate-controlled rooms that can hold 45,000 bottles of mushrooms at any given time. The farmers meticulously monitor temperature and humidity to produce top-quality results.

Jiro Watanuki and his wife have been running Sun Smiling Valley Farm for 6 years. Jiro started selling at the Motor Avenue farmers’ market and decided to add the Mar Vista market to serve more customers. They aren’t certified organic yet, but they use organic methods to cultivate their crops.

To welcome new customers to the booth, Sun Smiling is running a mushroom contest. It’s easy: grab an entry form and recipe card. Make an original mushroom-centric recipe and submit it with a photograph. All recipes and photos will be posted up in the booth, and on November 4th there will be a popularity pole to decide which recipe is the most appetizing. The winner will receive a full case of mushrooms, including fruits and vegetables of your choice. Second prize is a smaller case, and the third place winner gets a brown bag full of farm goodies.  All contestants will get a small prize.

Stop by Sun Smiling’s booth to enter the contest, and pick up ingredients for your winning recipe. Let those creative cooking juices flow, and don’t forget to vote on November 4th.

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