About Me

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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 Commercial Mushroom Cultivation Education. His practical handbook is in 9 languages and is called the MUSHROOM BIBLE: https://mariettesbacktobasics.blogspot.com/2020/08/modern-mushroom-growing-2020-harvesting.html

Thursday, December 31, 2020

Let's ROLL Relaxed into a New Year


Okay, Let's ROLL Relaxed into a New Year... no HURRY! 
Another photo from September 1995, taken in Herisau, Switzerland while visiting our Mushroom friends.

Wishing you all a Happy and above all, Healthy New Year!

Tuesday, December 29, 2020

Red Fort of Agra short Video

 Upon completing our consulting period for Pond's India Ltd...

Red Fort of Agra UNESCO World Heritage Site
If you click through to viewing on YouTube and on your PC, you see information below with clickable points.
We started our day at 5:30 on August 8, 1994 with our journey from Delhi, to Agra.
That was some 225 km to the south east over a divided highway, with concrete division.
We never had seen an elephant as a means of transport, or the huge black camels...
So many animals on the road and so much noise.
We kept the windows of our Ambassador closed due to the air conditioning, which was a blessing for the noise and also for keeping some of the stench of animal manure, away from our nostrils.
Wearing my The Bridge saddlebag, from Australia that my sister Diny's rabbit tasted after we had gone back to The Netherlands in September of 1994...

Related link to previous post by me:

My 5th Consulting Trip to India & Visit of Taj Mahal

Lalitha Mahal and Maharaja Palace Mysore  2 minute video

Sister Diny's Rabbit LOVED my Saddlebag from The Bridge Italy 

Sunday, December 27, 2020

Lalitha Mahal and Maharaja Palace Mysore 2 minute video

After completing our consulting period for Pond's India Ltd, we joined one of their staffers...

Just showing you the magnificent architecture you find in India.
A 2-minute video of Lalitha Mahal and Maharaja Palace in Mysore, Karnataka
We have toured the palace twice, also on March 3, 1990.
Wearing my The Bridge saddle bag from Australia...

Related link to previous posts by me:

My 5th Consulting Trip to India & Visit of Taj Mahal

Lalitha Mahal and Maharaja Palace Mysore

Chamundeshwari Temple and Chamundi Hills in Mysore India

Sister Diny's Rabbit LOVED my Saddlebag from The Bridge Italy 

Friday, December 25, 2020

Guest Column for Uncle Bo Whaley - Fond memories of a Dutch Christmas

December 23, 1987 my guest column for Uncle Bo Whaley
Mariet Vedder remembers childhood Christmas in Holland
Bo Whaley
(Editor's note: Today's special Christmas column was written by Mariet Vedder, a native of Holland, who has lived in Dublin for the past four years with her husband, Pieter, vice president, Fresh Produce Division (Mushrooms), an affiliate of Campbell's Soup Co. (CAMSCO). The Vedders travel extensively throughout the world in order for Mr. Vedder to lecture at various seminars inasmuch as he is recognized as one of the world's leading authorities on mushrooms).

At times, like now, I pause to consider the true meaning of Christmas. Are we still celebrating Jesus' birthday as one big Christian family? Or has it been transformed into one big commercial happening?
In my native Holland, we would not decorate (trim) our Christmas tree until a few days before Christmas, then maintain it until Epiphany (January 6, observed as a churchtain festival in commemoration of the coming of the three wise men to Jesus at Bethlehem).

Our Christian season began on the evening of December 24th, walking through a layer of snow, most often, to our Church for the celebration of Midnight Mass. A freezing night with a clear sky, filled with lots of stars, belonged to this season ⏤ like Baby Jesus and the angels. It was so quiet, so peaceful, with everything and everybody waiting to celebrate another birthday of the Savior.
I remember that as we neared the Church and heard the inviting voices of the choir, our pace quickened, and once inside we hurried to get a glimpse of the nativity scene. The aroma of burning candles, coupled with the joyful singing, completed the setting and afforded a sense of strength and unity, like one big family with a common goal: Peace on earth and love that came with the birth of Jesus.
After Church, families would gather for a great dinner, similar to the American Thanksgiving. This would be repeated the next day, the so-called Second Christmas Day.
Some memories are somewhat nostalgic, therefore not every Christmas was so peaceful. One of the strongest and most lasting impressions regarding Christmas for my husband Pieter, came on Christmas Day, 1944, near the end of World War II, when he was 15. (Pieter with his middle brother were evacuated at a farmstead away from home, parents and oldest brother elsewhere).
Accompanied by his older brother, they left night mass and were walking home when they saw a blaze behind a low hill. Being curious, as boys tend to be, they walked briskly toward the flames were coming from an airplane that had just been shot down. The light from the blaze illuminated the surrounding area sufficiently for the two youngsters to see a human arm and hand hanging in the barbed wire encircling a meadow.
This experience was so shocking for the boys, having just moments before left mass with peace on their minds Christmas night only to be confronted  with such a cruelty ⏤ evidence of the ravages of war and human conflict...
Living now at home in Dublin, Georgia/USA, far a way from Holland, Christmas for me is, of course, different. The religious meaning is the same, but I miss the closeness of my family at this special time of year. My biggest joy comes from sending and receiving all the Christmas cards. All hose relatives and freinds who think about you... write a personal note, wishing the best for the New Year. And it really is a moving experience when, for example, I hold Christmas cards received from behind the Iron Curtain or South Africa in my hands and realize that Christian feelings are alive all over the world, despite the many different philosophies.
We receive Christmas cards from friends in exotic countries where my husband and I have visited, such as Indonesia, Singapore, India, China and Japan. While the cards are different in design, the spirit in which they are sent is the same ⏤ that of love and peace.
Last year was a very special Christmas for Pieter and me. We celebrated it in Indonesia, on the islands of Java and Bali. On Christmas Eve we attended night mass in the city of Wonosobo, on the island of Java. The Church was decorated  in a most heavenly way, with amaryllis and orchids! It was like being in paradise what with all the exotic fragrances, beautiful people in their 'sarongs' (the traditional Javanese costume) and with that special gleam in their eyes radiating love faith and true Christianity.
Mass started with a ceremony performed by about a dozen beautiful young girls between the ages of eight and fourteen, lined up in two rows, wearing gorgeous sarongs and barefooted. One held a doll, depicting the new born baby, Jesus. The others strew flower petals while dancing slowly to the altar, bringing Jesus to his manger. They did have the universal nativity scene. Just the music, the choir and the formal dancing was so unusual to us westerners.
The entire service of two hours, including a sermon, was very dignified. Although we could not pray or sing with the natives, it was not boring.
When communion was given, the long line never ended; many stood outside and followed the mass through special loudspeakers. It was overwhelming to witness such attendance. After mass, out in the streets where traffic is prohibited during sermons to ensure quietness, the scene resembled a standing reception. We never shook so many hands in our lives! All the priests were outside, too. Everybody wishing one another a Merry Christmas. It was a deeply moving experience, the most impressive Christmas ever.
From Indonesia, we moved on to Singapore where we stayed for two days. It is a clean and modern state, still decorated for the Christmas season at the end of December. There were no Christmas trees but the naive tropical trees were decorated and lit up. Beautiful plain white lights spanned the main streets and shops carried out the spirit of Christmas.
From Singapore we traveled on to Holland, arriving on New Year's Eve. 

...Fond memories of less commercial Christmas

The Christmas tree at my parent's home was still set up, adding to an old fashioned 'long' holiday season that did not end abruptly on December 26 like here in the United States, but lasted until the Solemnity of Epiphany in early January.
The Christmas season should not die the moment one opens his presents; rather, we should live on in its spirit a bit longer.

Thought For Today: 'Peace is not a Christmas gift, but a task.' ~Unknown.

Wednesday, December 23, 2020

Cornuda Italy Christmas Eve Feeding the Critters

 Sorry, we have no Internet!


Just an overview from our 5th floor apartment in Cornuda, Treviso when we still lived in Italy.

From our balcony, and also from the rooftop to show the back.

We then drove in my Ford Escort to Madonna di Rocca from where the lot that we'd purchased is visible.

And of course we did stop at the old people's home, to feed their critters.

We always did so on our way to work and they knew our car or if we came to work by bike, they recognized us.

We both LOVE pets and this was such a natural thing to do!
Even more so on Christmas Eve.
Those black leather boots I'm wearing (gift from Italian friends) I still have, as well as the wool winter coat that I'd purchased in Pennsylvania just before moving to Italy.
If you view this video on YouTube and on your PC you will find the clickable markings below for reading and clicking on it. At 0:22 Church of Cornuda, Province of Treviso. 
At 1:18 zooming in on the Church atop Madonna di Rocca.

Very short but valuable to both of us.

Related links:
{Our Apartment in Cornuda, TV, Italy} | previous post by me
Buying Property in Cornuda, Italy below Madonna di Rocca | previous post by me
Living out of our Suitcases - BUT we LIVED near Venice, Italy! | previous post by me
Our Precious Silver Engraving from Church in Cornuda, TV - Italy | previous post by me 

Monday, December 21, 2020

Kitties we Remember


Sweet Spooky II, on January 8, 2006

This precious fur baby died too young at age 4.5 because of Heartworm.

Our then vet, had not given us the right protection against it, only against ticks and flees, not including heartworm. So sad and since then I've always ordered my own prescription on line.

A young Barty, not yet two years old...
Always following us and wanting to be near us; like magnets!

Spooky II, proudly standing near his Papi!

Strange, our Spooky II got named Boots by the Humane Society...
The local newspaper's date was erroneous printed as October and it was Thursday, November 7, 2002.
A cute tuxedo cat-man!

Wearing my calf hair Escada boots, Escada pony hair leather skirt and the cuddly warm Mink coat that I inherited from dear friend Ellie as she, neither her daughter Elvira could fit into it any longer.

Related links of posts by me:

Saturday, December 19, 2020

The Kitty I Had Already so I Ordered the Hand Knitted Sweater

In the Dutch Nouveau magazine I fell in love with this...
You could order it from Nouveau, handknitted and ready to wear; which I did.

Here I am with kitty Spooky II, and wearing the hand knitted sweater.
My sister Diny did mail it as a parcel from The Netherlands to Georgia...

Spooky was a happy boy!

Related link with previous post by me:

Thursday, December 17, 2020

Time Flies - SLOW DOWN


Das neue Fahrgefühl or in English: The new driving experience Zürich: relax...

On Friday, November 20, Blogger friend Carole posted in Latin: Tempus Fugit ( Time Flies). 

It brought me the idea for using this photo that I took in September 1995, while being in Herisau, Switzerland, visiting our mushroom friends.

The Dachshund on wheels seems to enjoy its relaxed speed!

WISH we all could roll through time like that...

Are you also feeling the same?!

Today I've had eye surgery and might not be able to reply or visit any other blogs...

Tuesday, December 15, 2020

The Open Air Museum in Kommern, Germany

 For many years I do read a blog from Willy, a Dutch lady that lives in the Province where Pieter is born, in Gelderland/The Netherlands.

She is an excellent photographer and she visits the most interesting places.

Willy has been battling Leukemia and is back on track and we sure wish her a lot more time with her close travel companion and husband!

So I spotted on her blog: The open-air museum in Kommern - Het openluchtmuseum in Kommern and new it was the one we visited! Just click the link and yes, she has a translator on the side, a little down.

Both of us got invited to join our 3 German sons as they took a day off for showing us around at Kommern Freilicht Museum in the Eifel.
An act of gratitude as they were our guests here in Georgia and we were there for them if needed while traveling in the USA.
Family, not by blood...
We went on to Switzerland and Italy for visiting friends.
Doing so, I forgot my black Chanel boots, after a night with our friends in the Eifel, Germany and had to retrieve them on the way home...

Sunday, December 13, 2020

YES, we also DID PLAY!

 For those of you that might think we always were working or flying from A to B, we actually DID PLAY too!

Both of us LOVED to play tennis as it is an active sport!

Pieter on the court...
And me...
With Gloria one of our tennis teachers in the back...

But we have had to drop this as our schedule was always such that we could not continue with scheduling classes or whatsoever...

But at least we ENJOYED it! 

Maybe next life...?!

Friday, December 11, 2020

Uncle Bo Whaley's 15th Birthday in Heaven


A young and handsome Uncle Bo Whaley, when he was in the army...

From 1954 till 1974 he worked as an F.B.I. Agent and lived all over the U.S.A.

He later became a columnist and writer and published a lot of books, we do have 11 of them!

Several with a personal message...

On October 7, 1988 shortly before we moved to Pennsylvania, Uncle Bo came to dinner at our home, as a farewell and he gave us the special Friendship Poem

Related link to other posts that I wrote:

{FRIENDSHIP by Elizabeth Barrett Browning}

Wednesday, December 9, 2020

Husband Pieter became SUPERMAN - When Push Came to Shove

Having your own home and a huge garden to take care of is quite a challenge at times!

Well, one day I was lucky enough for standing on our balcony to videotape husband Pieter's ACTION.

He'd rented a heavy chain saw for cutting some more trees.

It started also raining and suddenly his 'rented' saw got stuck!

This short 2:39 minute video shows the action.
Cutting out a wedge, while it rained heavily...
If you watch this on YouTube on your PC, you can see the text below with clickable time where it happens.
Pieter had already changed into dry clothes ones!
Now he came home after he literally PUSHED that stubborn sucker to the side...
So proud for having it TAPED... no one would believe it.
Pieter gathered his once stuck chain saw, and walked home to yet again take a shower and change into dry clothes and return the rental chain saw.

Monday, December 7, 2020

Blue Ridge Scenic Railway

 Both of us woke up well rested at our Hyatt Regency Suites and after our own prepared breakfast, we went on our way...

It would be a one hour 20 minute drive to our destination. 

The weather was foggy and very cloudy with some drizzle...

By 14:15 we arrived at our destination of BLUE RIDGE SCENIC RAILWAY

I'd ordered our tickets on line and we had to present proof of purchase at the ticket office...

Ticket office right around the corner.

A very small mountain village and our biggest challenge was for finding a parking space.

Luckily it was on a Sunday, so we could park behind a medical office where parking was prohibited from Monday thru Friday... 

It was a little walking distance and going back, uphill it was more of a challenge for Pieter.

The 1 hour 21 minutes were correct and I was glad I selected the Interstate, not all the way but biggest part of this 129 kilometer stretch or 80 mile.

Here I stand in front of the very long BLUE RIDGE SCENIC RAILWAY

We had to walk to wagon 549... A 2 hour express train ride without a layover in Copperhill, Tennessee, due to COVID

There was no class difference in this train and for boarding we had to walk quite a stretch!
Somewhere in the middle of that stretch, they had a concession stand.
Pieter was a happy man here at 15:08 with his hot coffee!

Most Railways follow a river...
Fall colors were just starting out.

The river is again visible below.
It was a very rural area!

Crossing the river...

Across from the river we stopped in Copperhill, Tennessee but no layover due to COVID.
So sad for restaurants and shops that depend on the influx of tourists!
Yes, in times past copper was the main reason for this railway.

We started out in Blue Ridge on 241 Depot Street in the state of Georgia.
Across the river we arrived in Copperhill, Tennessee.

While using the app Relive and having my portable battery, I noticed that at times there was no signal.
But the way over was not the same route as the way back, there are different rails.

One such things that indicate that there was no signal is this weird sharp V-shape that we did not ride!
Guess due to the absence of any signal, the dots got connected a few seconds later but erroneously.

Our Relive video

The total was not more than 39.8 km or 24.7 mi and the average speed was 16.8 km/h or 10.4 mi/h.
Just outside of Copperhill, Tennesse and back on Georgia territory we passed through an extreme poor area. We got told by the guide that was in each wagon (talking loudly about what we were passing etc.) that there was a kind of a community vegetable garden. 
Volunteers worked it and the actual crop would be divided among the poor families...
As from my childhood, we do recall that often a railway will pass by the back of homes and their tiny gardens or whatever. Often a lot of rubbish was visible too. The front from the street might have looked better... but not the back of those homes!

It was an okay railway experience but fell short in comparison with the previous one we took in Bryson City, North Carolina. 
There is no service on the Blue Ridge Scenic Railway and you get seated without any seat assignment.
Loud due to children and kind of noisy was one of the biggest differences we noticed.
But still we feel bad for that region and they MUST draw tourists for pouring in some more cash before any update or improvement can be made.
Just an oversight for Blue Ridge Scenic Railway tarifs

Before dark, we safely got back to our cozy Hyatt Regency Suites Atlanta Northwest for our supper and a good night rest. It was well chosen, for this Blue Ridge Scenic Railway adventure.

Related link:

Saturday, December 5, 2020

Hyatt Regency Suites Atlanta Northwest

 Yes, on October 10, we drove up to Atlanta, Northwest for a two night stay at the Hyatt Regency Suites.

We'd been there before, on January 13, 2018 and loved the fact that they have a kind of kitchenette with a microwave and roomy refrigerator.

During the crazy COVID times, they did not serve their usual breakfast, which always was so good!

So with this option of having a kitchenette, we brought our own and it worked out perfect.

The building of Hyatt Regency Suites Atlanta Northwest on the outside makes us always think of the Camino Réal hotel in the Aztec style, in México City. Click through on link...

So here we went.

To the left you see the large sized microwave and next to it the refrigerator.

Also coffee maker of course.

This really feels like home away from home!

Photos are from 2018, this time we had a room in the back, overlooking the garden and oh so quiet on the 5th floor.

The king size bed with down duvet (no synthetic down!) and pillows sleeps like a dream on their pillow top mattress. Exactly like our down duvet and pillows at home...

We'd stopped at Whole Foods Market for some food from their food bar.

Easy supper, heating it up in the microwave and staying in for the evening!

Relaxing for me, after the drive up...

Bathroom is also well equipped. 

Hallway with closet... 

In the mirror is my reflection, wearing still my Escada Rose Sweater for our choir performance at UGA Athens Stegeman Colliseum... (home of the Georgia Bulldogs basketball and gymnastics teams).

From there, I drove to this Hyatt in Northwest Atlanta.

Me, third from left... Photo inserted as a back flash only!


Yes a true Suite!

So we stayed here again now.

We woke up well rested and were on our way to our special destination...

Stay tuned!

Related link:

Thursday, December 3, 2020


 In the September issue of Mushroom Business, a redacted article from my husband Pieter got published.

Here first comes the unredacted version... with the omitted part in bold.


Some thoughts from a retired teacher:

Husband Pieter in classroom at his Campbell Training Centre in Dublin, Georgia/USA

Having spent almost my entire life in the mushroom business, mainly in teaching, training and farm reviews, I have learned a number of things. I have learned for instance that growing mushrooms for a profit is for sure a challenging job, that can put quite a bit of pressure on a person. On the other hand, however, it also can give a lot of satisfaction.
Going around the world, as my wife and I did, one can find big variations within the mushroom industry. Many different types of facilities, growing conditions and, not the least; so many different people, each with their own ideas and opinions about what is good. And of course; everybody knowing best. It is quite well possible that one day you can see for instance, a reasonable second break at a farm, on a soaking wet casing layer, and two days later at another farm a second break on a bone-dry one. Both growers try to convince you that this is the way it should be, at least at their farm. 
Our Agaricus mushroom must have some characteristics of a strong weed mould, otherwise it would be hard to understand that at certain facilities and under different conditions, it still will produce something. I know that growing 'some' mushrooms, isn't all that difficult; one has to so some real stupid things to avoid some fruitbodies from showing up at all.
In some books and articles in popular magazines, it's often suggested, that it be relatively easy to grow your own mushrooms in the back yard. This kind of stories might be one of the reasons that for years, and still, some people believe that growing mushrooms is a sure and easy way to make good money. There are also people around, who are interested in convincing a person or company to invest money in the mushroom business, this together with plans and promising calculations, based on high yields, a strong market, and therefore big profit. There are also several companies, especially in Europe, willing (and capable) to build a turn-key, state of the art, but not cheap, mushroom farm, wherever in the world. This complete with all the sophisticated machinery, climate control, and all the modern gadgets, available at present. 
What the new farm owner, in whatever country, forgets is, that mushrooms don't grow just on Alcoa racks, but on a nutritious compost; covered with a good casing layer, with the proper moisture level, and in a suitable environment. Therefore, you can expect high yields on a good compost etc. in plastic bags, placed in a somewhat modified chicken barn, in the right climate, and poor yields on a dry, green compost, on the most modern shelf beds. A computer-controlled air conditioning system can do a lot for the production, and quality level, but cannot correct mistakes, made in other areas. It all is in the hands of a bunch of well trained, experienced and dedicated people who make it into a success. If such people are not available on a farm, the owner should spend some money on training the crew, instead of investing in things they are not quite ready for yet. The good pay-off will come from an investment in people; in providing good management, adequate basic training, theoretical knowledge, and also a practical oriented, ongoing training program. Growing mushrooms on a profitable base is by far not that easy, there is a small margin of error, or as my mushroom growing friend Jörg Kuhn once said to me: 'In mushroom growing, wrong is so terribly near to right.'
Modern farms are becoming bigger and bigger, and quite often, the number of problems is growing with the size of the farm. This situation is asking for a strong manager, with experience in this business. The number of employees and the often, high turnover, especially in the harvesting area, is also asking for an ongoing and intensive training program.
Once the new farm has been built, and starts producing, the new owner will figure out a couple of things rather soon. First of all, that the calculations, made before, have been somewhat too optimistic, that it really isn't that easy to get constantly the necessary high yields of good quality on the beds. Secondly, that they didn't realize that it is equally, or even more difficult, to get them off the beds, which will have a big impact on the end results. It all depends on inexperienced, and not properly trained harvesters.
He also will figure out that there is more competition at the market than expected, and that the prices in August aren't as good as last year's Christmas.
The (new) mushroom farm owner thought, that not that much could go wrong, because almost everything was automated, and computer controlled. He now starts realizing that indeed, one still needs a bunch of well trained, and dedicated people, to keep that farm going and making a profit. In most cases, the learning and training process, will start after the farm has been built already; for sure a very exciting, but in most cases, an equally costly period.
Most older farms in for instance Europe or the USA, started relatively small, and grew bigger over the years, so the farm staff could grow with the farm. We see companies in low labour cost countries starting big at once. They perhaps do not realize that, notwithstanding, the eventually built-in technology, success still depends on a number of well-trained and dedicated people.
In my work I have seen examples of some old, but well-maintained farms with wooden shelf beds, no bunkers, hardly any air conditioning and still making good money. On the other hand, very sophisticated, expensive, state of the art farms, highly mechanized, complete with bunkers, computerized etc., that had a hard time for breaking even.
For some years, my wife and I, worked at the huge mushroom farm in Indonesia, where up to 800 tons of compost per day was produced, and then distributed over four locations in the same mountainous area, and therefore, under identical climate conditions. Although using the same compost, strain, casing material etc., the yield and quality varied quite a bit, between the different locations and even within the 30 growing room units, to one another, within the same farm. Certain units always were doing better; yield wise as well as quality. The same ingredients, the same environment, but a different crew.
At the same area, we had a test and training facility with a number of growing rooms. This small farm often got the compost blocks, rejected by the other farms, because of for instance, a weak spawn-run. Nevertheless, the unfavorable start (we gave it an extra week), the yields were often even higher and the quality better than at the 'normal' farms. When discussing this phenomenon with the farm managers, area managers etc., their reply always was the same; that this was simply because of the smaller size of the unit, therefore easier to manage and also having some experienced and more dedicated people. Aha...! So, a well-trained and well-managed group of people can even make up for some other shortcomings.
Therefore, I really don't understand why the mushroom growers as a whole, so far don't spend more time, money and effort, on education and practical training of the farm staff and the workers. Mushroom growing is not manufacturing, instructing the people by simply telling them what to do routinely. You know well, that also ingredients for instance, can be somewhat different and that the growing conditions can change over time. By teaching them some theoretical background and ongoing practical training, the workers will be able to adjust to the new situation. Also, most people show more interest in their job, if they understand what they are doing and why, and how important this job is for the end result. Most people have their pride as well. A good incentive program, not just based on kilograms, but also including quality, which means market value, should be the other stimulating factor, for keeping people's interest.
A good farm manager should utilize every opportunity to organize learning activities for himself and his crew, increasing their knowledge and skills, and at the same time, creating a strong team spirit.
In our work, we often experienced a gap between the managing staff and the farm workers. We had the feeling that certain farm managers, staff members, and even area managers, weren't supporting the idea for ongoing training programs for the workers. They say, it costs too much time and they themselves know already everything...! Besides that, they are afraid to lose some of their authority (whatever that may be). What a pity, they could gain so much respect, and even learn from their workers, because they know exactly the daily problems. Sometimes, the workers are even smarter than you think they are.

Pieter showing his students how to check compost quality by making hands dirty

We know some farm managers, and even area managers, who don't like making their hands and shirt dirty and thus run the farm from behind their desk, in front of a computer screen, afraid of walking in the run-off at the compost slab or in the 'dripping' growing rooms. The manager and area managers should have dirt under their fingernails, otherwise they will never know what really is going on at the farm, but they nevertheless are making decisions, related to growing. This often creates some tensions amongst workers and the staff.
In a consulting job, going over the farm with the manager, I often had the feeling that this was the first time in that week, that he had been at the slab or in the rooms. I know rather well that being the farm manager is a demanding job (hopefully he gets paid for it). Even in the weekends, those watering boys need some guidance. Daily routine is not a good thing on a mushroom farm, because we are dealing with a growing process, where constantly there are chances that certain elements could have changed, so we have to react to that. Here gain: 'In mushroom growing, wrong is so terribly near to right.

Mariette training harvest supervisors in Indonesia
Foot note: Both of us have always done our consulting work, based on QUALITY which is market value, instead of just high yields...! A BIG mistake would be an incentive program for the managers (even consultants) based just on kilograms but not on quality, which translates into market value!

We know some farms where the harvesting manager never has picked mushrooms, him or herself. How in the world can such a person give the necessary training and proper instruction with guidance about how, and what to pick, grade and clean the beds, etc.? No wonder that on such a farm the people don't have much respect for their 'boss'. An area manager or harvester supervisor doesn't need a degree, but first of all should have experience, knowing all the tricks involved in harvesting, and by doing it him/herself for quite some time, meanwhile participating in all kind of training activities. He, or she should also have the ability to handle people well and also be able to train and instruct the crew, some of them even speaking a different language. We know that quite often they give that new harvester a knife and send him/her with the crew in for instance room six, where he/she will pick up the good, as well as the bad habits. Mushroom farms nowadays are becoming bigger and bigger, and the responsibility of the manager is growing with it. A size related problem will also be to find constantly enough harvesters in the surrounding area; therefore, they often have to rely on 'imported' people. We know that the turnover in the harvesting crew normally is rather high and therefore an ongoing training program is even more important.
Again, it is the well-trained, well-paid and dedicated people who make a mushroom farm successful. The farm will gain more from money and time spend on practical oriented training activities at the farm, then spending it on those, high cost international happenings, congresses and whatever meetings. To me, it looks like the organizers of some of those activities, have a preference for far away, exotic places, and for high cost accommodations. (I have been at several of those). This automatically creates a situation that only a limited group of privileged people can attend, like owners of a big farm, representatives of supply companies, general managers etc. They are perhaps a good auditorium for listening to the latest research results, marketing strategies etc. The right people however, listening and discussing lectures about more practical topics, like composting, phase II, watering, flushing, supplementing and all kind of growing related matters; the people with 'dirt under their fingernails' stay back at the farm. Research of course is important for the industry, but the equally important thing is 'to translate' the available knowledge into growers' language and present it to the right group of people at the farm.
We have to realize that there are still a number of farms that cannot afford to send somebody abroad for a course or for having 'an expensive' consultant. For several years we have done consulting and training work for farms all over the globe. Often, I was wondering why they have to pay me, to get on my knees, for showing them the rubbish underneath the beds, or why they cool down so early and too harsh, or that there are still dry straw lumps after pre-wet, that the casing after the first break is too dry and that clustering is not related to a spawn quality but more than likely, the result of a sloppy job at distributing the supplements or cac'ing material. That they better follow the CO₂ concentration with an instrument and not whether you still can breathe inside the room or become unconscious. At least, we always tried, after going intensively over the farm, to find enough time with the staff and the workers to go over the shortcomings. We also built in some theoretical knowledge, so that everybody has a better understanding about why certain things can go wrong.
For sure, a well-educated, trained and experienced consultant can be a help in certain situations, but the fastest and most economical solution would be if the people at the farm would have enough background knowledge to recognize and solve the problem themselves. Most of the aforementioned problems, the symptoms and the solution for sure can be found in a good book. Such a book could be the base for an ongoing training program; not just telling the workers what you expect them to do, but also teaching them some background so that they better understand what the parameters are, so that they can make the right decision themselves in somewhat different situations. Especially in the harvesting area, an ongoing training program has to be carried out and that for several reasons. First of all, the quality of the product is for a big part in the hands of the harvesters. They also can do quite a bit of damage to the next break(s). Show them the pictures; if they know the symptoms, they are the first who discover some abnormalities, mouldy spots, mites, dry spots, virus etc., and inform the grower. Besides that, they also are a big chunk of the labour pie, and very often one has to train newcomers.
Again, a good book should cover the basics, theoretical background and practical knowledge and experience. As the writers of such a book, we realize quite well that, once in a while, there will be a new development, but the overall basics will forever be the same. A magazine like Mushroom Business, can keep you up to date about new developments, like new equipment, new strains, marketing info, etc. Most of the available literature is written in English language, like our newest; modern mushroom growing 2020 harvesting, written by me and my wife, who has also an almost lifelong career in that area. We expect, that on most farms, there will be at least one person who can handle that language.
Am I promoting this book? Of course, I do, but for some different reasons as you perhaps think. We have spent quite some time, and a good bit of money, no sponsors, to produce a quality book, inside and out, but we don't need to make money on it. We would be happy if we are breaking even. The main reason for us to do this, is that we like to give the mushroom growers a guide and tool to do what we so strongly believe in and what we have done almost our entire life. We are convinced that one of the most important tasks of the people who are responsible for the success of the farm and everybody involved, is creating a loyal and well-trained crew. We hope that this book will be a worthwhile gift to an industry we both still love so much.

Pieter J. C. Vedder

People Power
Pieter Vedder on people power
People make the difference

No use for retyping the above printed and somewhat shortened version.
Of course we do understand that space in such a magazine is limited due to the advertising...

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