We had the good fortune of connecting with Jared Scherger and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Jared, what was your thought process behind starting your own business?
I’ve got to be honest, if you had asked me even two years ago if I wanted my own business the answer would probably have been no! My wife and I had aspirations to sell hammocks on the beach ten years ago, but priorities change and here we are now. Mushroom farming is niche enterprise that takes specific expertise, the right equipment, crew and know-how. It’s not exactly the type of field with a lot of job openings, so the logical step was to have our own farm. I was lucky to gain most of skills needed to succeed from my mentor, Jim Hammond. Through his encouragement and patience I was able to learn the basics and eventually grow on my own. I look forward to being able to grow the business in a sustainable way and continue to learn from the mycelium!
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I had a wondering path to Hazel Dell Mushrooms, but each turn in that path is responsible for the end result. I changed majors several times in college and struggled to find meaningful study. I eventually left college and traveled to Colorado where I connected with the mountains and an incredible group of people, both of which continue to sustain me today. Prior to working with mushrooms, I managed a production crew at Gib’s Bagels in Fort Collins. It was while working here that I first became interested in mushrooms, and it was actually Gib himself that initially encouraged me to explore this as a career opportunity! I have no formal education in mycology, but learned through the guidance of a mentor and through a lot of trial and error. There can be a great sense of accom0plishment in being self-taught.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
This is kind of tricky question right now with COVID and fires, but I’ll give it a shot! I’d have to show them the mountains, hiking or backpacking in some of my favorite places like the Zirkel’s, Rawah’s or Rocky Mountain National Park. I also love the hot springs, Buena Vista or Saratoga are favorites. For city spots, I love to share the Lyric Cinema with friends. It’s such a fun quirky art house with a beautiful backyard and huge interior to safely social distance. I have a lot of favorite restaurants that also proudly serve Hazel Dell Mushrooms! In Fort Collins these include The Regional, Jax Fish House, Jay’s Bistro, Bistro Nautile, Rare and Locality, to name just a few. These restaurants are able to offer superb local dining experiences while adhering to safety guidelines.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
About 12 years ago I became really interested in mushrooms after hearing an interview with the famous mycologist, Paul Staments. This really piqued my interest and led me to introducing myself as an aspiring mushroom farmer to the previous owner of Hazel Dell, Jim Hammond. I had no previous experience in farms or mushrooms, but Jim took a chance on me. He became a friend and a great mentor to me. Working closely with him over the years taught me a lot about the art and science of growing beautiful mushrooms. Unfortunately, we lost Jim this past May after a long-battle with cancer. My wife and I are really proud to able to continue his legacy of growing the most delicious mushrooms around!
Jimena Peck, Kirsten Savage