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Here I would love to share with you our travels and adventures as international mushroom consultants. MEMOIRS about husband Pieter Vedder, who was a SCIENTIFIC PIONEER in Mushroom Cultivation Education. His practical handbook is in 8 languages and is called the MUSHROOM BIBLE: https://mariettesbacktobasics.blogspot.com/2018/03/1978-pjc-vedders-modern-mushroom.html

Friday, July 10, 2020

Pieter Carrying Wreath with G.J.A. Van Soest at Memorial of Friends Pierre Heynen, Gérard Kinet etc., Belgium

December 27, was a rainy and miserable day for attending the funeral and memorial for the 1958 Tragedy in Zichen-Zussen-Bolder in Belgium...
Meanwhile I've come across more photos via the ISMS's (International Society for Mushroom Science) from their RESOURCES - PUBLICATIONS - CHAMPIGNONCULTUUR (the Dutch Mushroom Culture/Growing magazine that Pieter wrote big parts for, at the time). You can enter the actual magazine via link below, within blog post - but it is in Dutch...
Husband Pieter is 2nd from Left, carrying the Memorial Wreath together with his colleague G.J.A. Van Soest... (Photo Steegs)
Those were Pieter's first students as he conducted courses in Maastricht for them, at a Grandcafé, see more in the post via link before. Those were the years that Pieter did ride his motor bike...
Hoping that Gérard Kinet's two children, and Pierre Heynen's family might find this info and some final photos of their Dad.
Click link below for going to my then not complete post, with added photos and info:

Comments are off here... only on above link!

Wednesday, July 8, 2020

Techniques for Harvesting Quality Mushrooms & Gratitude to Mushrooms Canada

With great pleasure we both have always worked in Canada!
This is me, harvesting mushrooms... in Horst, The Netherlands at then HEVECO.
Of course I kept my long hair in a braid, hairstyle is very important for as not to touch the bed surface with it and spreading diseases.
Thank you for accepting the challenge of co-speaking at our Technology Transfer Seminar scheduled for April 26, 27/94 at Wellington, Ontario in Canada.
The focus of this Seminar will be, Pre Harvest, Harvest and Post Harvest handling of mushrooms for quality and worker efficiency.
Highline Produce Limited, now Highline Mushrooms click through to read more.
Its founder, Dr. Murray O'Neil was a long time special mushroom related friend.
So this letter got mailed out to the Canadian Growers...
Seventh Technology Transfer Seminar on Pre Harvest, Harvest, and Post Harvest Handling.
Our speakers list includes Dr. R. Beelman from Penn State University, and Mariet Van den Munckhof-Vedder consultant. We have also the privilege of having Pieter Vedder accompanying Mariet and will encourage Peter to be a part of tour panel as well. Dr. Murray O'Neil will be chairing this event, and direct any questions during our discussion periods.
We hope you enjoy your stay at Isaiah Tubbs Resort in the heart of scenic Prince Edward Country click through.
Technology Transfer Seminar #7 Program #2
Techniques for Harvesting Quality Mushrooms
Technology Transfer Seminar # 7
Pieter and Mariet Vedder
Mushroom Consultants
Already on April 13, 2020 husband Pieter did receive a reply to his request for being able to insert a link to videos produced by then Canadian Mushroom Growers' Association click for their FB Page.
WITH GRATITUDE for being allowed to use this video's link!
MUSHROOMS CANADA - produced 24/7/365 click through
Don't you just LOVE their unique SLOGAN?!
Screenshot from 1994 April 26 + 27 Techniques for Harvesting Quality Mushrooms 2 - click for video
As husband Pieter pointed out in the beginning of this video, that it is not OUR picking technique that we invented. 
Already in the December 1959 issue of the Dutch CHAMPIGNONCULTUUR above article with photo appeared.
Dutch I.T.T., Institute of Horticultural Engineering at Wageningen University System created also a movie.
Based on this ergonomic study, I've always implemented the little details for obtaining optimum efficiency.
We have yet to come across any sensible article underlining the ergonomics.
No wonder we still have such a vast turnover of harvesting people...
Do most mushroom farms provide e.g. a little stool on wheels for sitting on, harvesting the very difficult lowest bed? 
Hip/elbow equal to bed height? Is that being implemented in the construction of a mushroom farm? Considering the area and harvesting work force available in several countries. Not ALL peoples are equal height!
Picking from an armpit height is very hard and tiring...
Screenshot from demonstration towards the end and Dr. Murray O'Neil being one of my first trainees.
Yes, on one of those two days, we also did go into the actual mushroom farm for discussing the Harvest Timing.
There is lots of talk by several self proclaimed 'mushroom gurus' about so-called graze picking.
Sending a crew in several times in a row for picking the largest ones.
First of all, try to grow an as uniform as possible first break. Yes, it is called BREAK and not FLUSH as so many still do. Flushing is a quite different part in crop management of mushroom cultivation.
Most of these 'gurus' point out that a mushroom doubles in weight every 24 hours.
Doubles in size: YES but 'weight' that depends on a LOT OF GROWING FACTORS.
NONE of these gurus is mentioning the importance for keeping the optimum growing condition such, that the pinheads form figure 8 tiny buttons. ONLY a figure 8 shaped button will double in size and retains its quality, and maximum weight.
If growing conditions are not in the optimum, any mushroom, regardless its diameter will start stretching its stem and open prematurely!
Diameter therefore is NOT a good parameter for quality.
The diameter of the stem reveals a lot more about quality, and is thus a far better quality criteria to look at. Hand in hand with 1st quality goes the broad and short stem! 
A thin, lengthening stem is an indication that mushrooms no longer are 1st quality. 
Look at your mushroom picking waste: any long(er) stems attached to the roots? THAT too is product loss and needs to be prevented by better crop management and timely, and correct pruning and picking! 
Does the waste bucket look rather dark from all the casing with mycelium being pulled up? That too is product and quality loss; as with a shallower casing layer you will not be able to harvest mushrooms with optimum weight and quality.
Also most growers are excellent at choking the life out of numerous pins and buttons that are formed already beneath a first break. The second break is right there! IF not watered timely, they will dry out and at the end of the first break harvesters also will have removed part of the second break. Abortion...?! Don't think that is a grower's goal. Nutrients have already been transferred and utilized from the compost into mushroom tissue, why then let it die off, by not opening up in time.
Or by not finishing the first break rooms in time, by harvesting and immediately watering, for the sake of the mushrooms on the bed and the pinheads and buttons forming below!
That so-called graze picking only will interfere and delay such crucial, timely watering.
How good are those gurus themselves at graze picking that lowest bed several times in a row?!
Just talk, when actually not personally having any experience about all factors involved as e.g. ergonomics. Building the most modern facility will NOT solve any of your quality product problems.

Listen to the video as I will address all of these very important aspects except for graze picking as it did not yet exist at that time - thank goodness.

Both, Pieter and I always used our Police type Streamlight Flashlight. I had it hanging from a loop on my belt to the side. It produces pure white light for analyzing pests and diseases etc.
Upon retirement, Pieter gave his to my oldest brother Martin...
I've lost mine somehow, somewhere!
We both treasure this letter from our dear friend Murray O'Neil:
Dear Mariet and Pieter:
I have just received a copy of the very lovely letter that you wrote to John. Thank you so much for this thoughtful post-meeting gesture.
Speaking for all of us I just can't express adequately how much we enjoyed and were helped by your visit. You are both beautiful, natural teachers - a skill possessed of far too few "teachers" generally.
Your comments - very supportive for our crew at Wellington have been a further stimulus and they are certainly filled with enthusiasm about the new methods which you have presented to us.
Pieter, as always you present yourself so well that I could listen to you a hundred times.
Mariet I think one of the high points of the meeting was when you expounded on your personal philosophy with what constitutes the proper way to go through life no matter what occupation one is engaged in.
We are looking forward to seeing you very soon at Vineland and I hope this finds you both in continued enthusiastic good health.
Best Regards,
Murray O'Neil
From the desk of Hank Taylor,
Mariet, Watched the V.C.R. of your presentation in Wellington; Excellent job. You really seemed to be enjoying yourself. Congratulations.
All the best

What a JOY it was to work for this fine group in Canada!

Hope someone has still some benefits from it and don't forget to become a member of this fine MUSHROOMS CANADA organization. They publish the greatest RECIPES as well!
Check out their FB Page, Pinterest and all...

Related link:

Monday, July 6, 2020

My Reply to Growing Pains by Geoff Ganney in The Mushroom Journal

Geoff Ganney wrote in his diary on April 5 that he was cleaning up among the pickers' knives. Well, what's so exciting about picking knives. First, we identified 8 different types, some long, others short, very thin, thicker but all blunt. Furthermore, some had plastic grips, other wooden grips and some had no grip at all. They were all terribly dirty. Some were bent or twisted, none were straight. Result; differently cut mushrooms.

Has anyone ever studied the best weight, length, blade shape, handle material and degree of sharpness of the knife, the most important tool a picker has?
My hand with the world's BEST mushroom picking knife...
Sure, I did write him a letter, stating that most harvesters will be far better with the knife than with the pen; so I would speak for MANY!
The Mushroom Journal of August 1989 Number 200 with my reply printed...
My reply:
14th July
Mushrooms disappeared, gave me time to study a most thought-provoking letter from Mariet Vedder which now follows:
Dear Geoff
After reading your 'Growing Pains' in the May issue of the Mushroom Journal, I would like to respond to what you wrote about your experience of April the 5th; your philosophy about a picker's knife.
Indeed, I have studied the most important tool a mushroom picker has, perhaps a little closer than most of your readers.
First of all, I would like to explain why I'm so interested in what you wrote about harvesting in general and the cheap, but nevertheless very important, tool; the knife.
At the age of 14, I was already picking mushrooms at the small farm of my friend's parents in Horst, the Netherlands, to help them out.
Since then I have spent a big part of my life in mushroom houses; picking mushrooms myself, training pickers on farms all over the globe and introducing new harvesting techniques and methods to improve the efficiency and also the quality of the product. We all know that mushroom growing is not that easy and more and more developing into a science. To improve the business we organize con-
ferences and courses, we write books and magazines and sometimes we have open house to show off some good first breaks. There even is a kind of mushroom doctor; Geoff Ganney, specialized in Growing headaches.
Amazing for me is that at these conferences or in these books or magazines, famous experts are talking or writing about compost, supplementing, cac'ing, deep scratching and the use of chlorine and the ideal CO₂ concentration and hybrids and virus and marketing, but so far... I have always missed harvesting.
It seems that when we get to this, in my opinion, most delicate and important part of the mushroom business, almost everybody is backing off; having no interest.
Do the owners/managers of a mushroom farm forget that the pickers are eating away almost 60-70% of the labour-pie?
Don't they realize that a harvester can influence the quality of the product more than any other growing factor?
We send our growers - area managers, compost guys etc. to courses and meetings, sometimes even overseas.
Do we have any serious training program for the biggest work force, the harvesters?
Are the mushroom growers dozing off?
They mechanized and computerized to the fullest, but most of them overlooked in my opinion, one of the most important (and also expensive) areas. 
It seems to be below the level of the designer-owner of a farm to discuss with the pickers how to create the best harvesting conditions.
We do the utmost to get the mushrooms on the beds and very little to get them off properly.
May I offer your readers a suggestion Geoff...?
The best way to recognize the daily problems in the harvesting area is; let the boss/manager pick mushrooms himself for half a day or more. Then he will figure out that indeed it is very unpleasant to constantly get a wet shoulder from that dripping plastic air duct, or a stiff neck as the result of the high air velocity in the aisle.
He never before realized that it isn't that much fun to sit on your knees on a catwalk for hours to collect the white gold. 
That indeed the distance between the two beds was that little and that lowest bed so close to the floor. 
How frustrating it can be to pick just 12 kg an hour with hard work, because of mushrooms with a piece weight of 160 in a kilogram and most of them almost open already, and somebody is asking if that room ever will be finished.
The boss then will figure out that there is actually more light in his toilet than in the growing rooms where 15 or 24 people are working for so many hours.
A king-size bed maybe wonderful during night time but for picking the mushrooms at the center of a bed, one should know that the maximum width should not extend 140 - 145 cm.
By picking himself he too will realize how unpleasant and itchy it is to have compost in your hair and neck because of poor construction of the sideboards or sloppy filling.
Perhaps he never before realized that there are that many spots in the room with puddles of water on the floor. Not good for controlling blotch but very unpleasant to stay in too!
He will figure out that this stepladder is not as handy as he thought it was; that the space on the platform of the lorry is indeed very limited and that climbing on the wooden trays goes far beyond his physical capability. 
After that half day picking he perhaps will understand much better why many harvesters are constantly looking for other jobs.
Sorry Geoff, I almost forgot to tell you more about the knife. In my opinion and I've quite a bit of experience, the best mushroom picker's knife is made by Diogenes - Werk - Herder & Sohn
Postfach 11 02 27
5650 Solingen 11
W. Germany
Phone: (0212) 7 70 71 - 73 Telex No. 8514 492 dio
Order No. 4602 for mushroom knife
Don't think the above information is still valid... But click here for thisBEST Champignon plukmesje - Mushroom picking knife 
If the mushroom growers in the more developed countries want to continue their business in the future, they'll have to pay more attention and have to spend quite a bit of money to improve the harvesting situation. Although the Dutch developed a system for mechanized harvesting, we all now that for a high quality, fresh market product, we still need human hands. For as little as approximately two German Marks we at least can put a good picker's knife in those hands.
Mariet Vedder - Van den Munckhof
The Mushroom Journal June 1990 No. 210
When we get to harvesting everyone backs off
We make no apologies for repeating this most interesting letter from MARIET VEDDER, first published by Geoff Ganney in Journal 200, August 1989.
The Mushroom Journal October 1998 Number 585
Growing Pains in Retrospect 9
After almost twenty-five years, I suppose we can't complain that Geoff Ganney has decided to call it a day as far as Growing Pains is concerned. Over the years, we have enjoyed being educated by one of the industry's best-known elder statesmen as he shared with us the trials and tribulations of mushroom growing, and sometimes the joys, in a diary prepared with the expressive phrases, wry comments and dry wit for which he is known. The column certainly generated a great deal of comment and debate over the years and will be missed; readers often told us it was the first page they turned to. Look out for a new feature in the coming months. This month, Peter Flegg looks back over the history of Geoff Ganney's Growing Pains. ~Trudy Johnston, Editor in Chief
Growing Pains in Retrospect
By Peter Flegg
From time to time Geoff passed on to his readers the benefit of detailed comment and advice from well-known mushroom personalities. Among those with whom he shared this column have been Sylvia Hensby who took issue with him on the effect of green mould. Mariet Vedder who wrote him a detailed letter on the skills of picking mushrooms and John Fletcher who wrote about evaporation.
To drive his points home he would frequently deliver short, snappy sayings...

Hope some of you enjoyed reading this!

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