The A Rocha Farm and Gift Shop sits comfortably at the end of the driveway– ready to greet visitors old and new. It’s a place to buy beautiful fair-trade and local goods, from honey to toothpaste to environmentally friendly children’s toys. Some of the local produce and flowers sold on the porch are grown just a couple of steps away.

One crucial part about learning to care for and understand our environment is remembering to take moments to notice the things around us. While working at the store for the first time, I noticed some brown mushrooms (the fruiting bodies of fungi) growing among the flowers in the planter boxes. Fungi are essential within ecosystems because of their symbiotic (mutually beneficial) relationships with plant root systems, their ability to decompose organic matter, and their uses in human agriculture, medicine, and food. Thanks to fungi we can enjoy beer, wine, and bread!

Some fungi reproduce asexually by producing and spreading microscopic spores. It is impossible to see a single spore with the naked eye. However, when thousands of them are grouped together as a spore print we no longer need to zoom in to observe them. Spore prints assist with fungi identification and are a simple, beautiful way of looking a bit more closely at the species around us.

On your next walk outside, keep your eye out for mushrooms–they come in a variety of beautiful shapes, sizes, and colors. You could even try your hand at identifying the species or making a spore print. The A Rocha Farm and Gift Shop definitely has a few you can check out. So keep a look out for the fun-guys in your neck of the woods! (Get it? Fun-Guys?)

– Christina Weinman, Brooksdale Communications Intern

A Rocha Farm and Gift Shop hours

Tues    12 – 6
Sat       10 – 4