for the magazine.
The peaceful farmers’ market of Atascadero is very different from the triangle of death in Iraq and the battlefields of Kandahar in Afghanistan. After experiencing so much death and destruction and making so many sacrifices, veterans like the city’s hero, Frank Wall, find a new direction and comfort in their war experience by becoming a farmer.
Wall, creator of Farmer Frank’s Mushrooms, collaborates with the Homegrown by Heroes program and the Farmer Veteran Coalition to become the last Atascadero farmer specializing in gourmet mushrooms. Every Wednesday he can be found at the Sunken Gardens Farmers’ Market, where he sells his exotic and colourful mushrooms: Pink, gold, blue oysters, lion manure.
Stena moved to Atascadero as a teenager and graduated from Atascadero High School in 2002. At the age of 18 he became an infantryman in the army and was stationed in Germany for the first time after his training. He was quickly deployed in the war in Iraq, and it was on these battlefields that Frank earned the Combat Infantry Badge, the Purple Heart after a mortar attack in Iraq, and the Bronze Star for his service in Afghanistan during his nearly 13 years of service, including three combat deployments.
Because of his war wounds, Wall was forced to leave the Army for sick leave after training other marines in Fort Hood, Texas, and Fort Lewis, Washington, and then returned to the Central Coast.
After his retirement as a single father, he sought stability for his two children and a new career direction. Wall used his extensive military experience to take a civilian job at Fort Hunter Liggett, believing that his struggle was behind him. But it wasn’t supposed to happen.
The Wall was about to go to war again, but this time not against a foreign enemy. This time it will be his fight against cancer. However, one of the unexpected benefits of chemotherapy is that Wall discovered during his research that one of the drugs he was receiving was made from a fungus. It is the beginning of a journey that leads him to a new role with Farmer Frank.
I started doing research and discovered that mushrooms had all kinds of health benefits. I started breeding them as a hobby, and of course I love to eat them. Oyster mushrooms have been shown to prevent tumours and new studies continue to report the health benefits of mushroom consumption. Wall shares.
After reading several books and watching videos, Wall began growing mushrooms on a scale that took him from hobby grower to licensed commercial grower, selling his products in local markets and supplying restaurants, Wall says: When I started to grow, I turned an old fridge into a fruit cupboard. I checked them several times a day and waited for the needles to form. One morning when I opened the fridge and saw a beautiful blue oyster mushroom growing, it drove me crazy. That’s when I knew what I was going to do in the next few years.
Wall threw away the old fridge, built a lean-to and has since grown so much that it sells at local farmers’ markets and supplies local restaurants and wineries. By joining the Veteran Farmers Coalition and the Homegrown by Heroes program, he has had the opportunity to grow his business and share his experiences. Visitors to his stand at the farmers’ market can proudly see his Homegrown by Heroes label, which identifies him as a seasoned farmer.
It’s nice to hear that people like the mushrooms I grow; they love them so much, Wall said.
Wall looks forward to growing new types of mushrooms and sharing new recipes with its regular customers, such as fried oyster mushrooms, oyster mushroom soup and oyster mushroom pasta. He distributes these recipe cards to his customers. His mushrooms are very popular, so he wants to grow even more.
From a man who faced the enemies of this country only to fight his own wounds and cancer, one would expect that Farmer Frank not only finds peace in growing his mushrooms, but also the courage to make his young business a great success.
For more information about Farmer Frank’s mushrooms you can find them online at instagram.com/farmerfrankmushrooms.
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We’ll get through this together, Atascadero…
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