GIY Maker Spotlight: Nelson Esseveld
Q: What first sparked your interest in the realm of mycology?
A: I’ve been drawn to mushrooms ever since I spotted my first Amanita muscaria when I was a kid. My curiosity with mushrooms grew over time and eventually I got my hands on Paul Stamets’s book, Mycelium Running. This book really opened my eyes to the vast applications of mycelium. I realized that mycelium and mushrooms could not only have a huge environmental impact but were also medicinally important for humanity.
When I found Ecovative, it was really great to know that there is a company rethinking and reshaping how we use our resources. Using mycelium as a replacement for packing foam and most recently seeing the Keap and Seed Probiotics mycelium packaging solutions was well done. It’s great to be part of the mycorevolution and I’m excited to see what’s next.
Q: What exactly are you researching/working on?
A: Experimenting with mycelium has been on my radar for a while now and I finally decided to give it a try with the Ecovative GIY kit. I teamed up with my partner, Helen, to conceptualize a few ideas relating to farming.
We came up with a few ideas but one really stuck: the mycelium seedling plug tray. Once we had our idea we started the mycelium growing phase. After 5 days of growth it was ready to be molded to our form (an existing plastic seedling tray). As we were molding the mycelium and hemp hurds, we found it difficult to work with the material as it was just a little too thick to work the way we wanted it to. After letting the mycelium grow in the form phase it was really difficult to get the mycelium seedling plug tray out of the mold. With enough poking and pulling we got the tray out and soon after baked it.
After baking the material we added soil, seeds, and watered the tray. Unfortunately after a few days the mycelium started regrowing and nothing has germinated yet. We are going to keep the experiment going but the mycelium seedling tray won’t withstand reuse and the seeds may be affected but the additional mycelium growth.
Q: What is the purpose of your research/work?
A: The purpose of our mycelium seedling plug tray is to create an alternative to plastic plant seedling plug trays because farms, farmers, nurseries, and specialty plant growers use many tons of plastic every year in their seedling plug trays. We thought it would be interesting to see if mycelium could produce a similar structure and withstand greenhouse conditions to produce a viable healthy seedling.
Q: What do you like most about working with mushrooms/mycelium?
A: Besides being blown away by watching the mycelium grow into the form, we both really like that mycelium can have a big impact and potentially reduce waste in the world.