Buckeye Mushroom Farm
In the Fall of 2013, when Kai WIngo was part of a large lay-off at Cleveland Metropolitan Schools, she attended a mushroom workshop by happenstance, and then another by intention. What started as a fascination and hobby in her home, quickly became a full-fledged operation. Gyasi, her son, recalls her buying equipment to produce higher volumes and different varieties. With his help, they converted their upstairs bathroom into a laboratory. Kai became an expert on the history of mushrooms and the many ways people have used them. Whether for food and nutrition, or herbal and spiritual healing, Kai soon became known around the community and around the world. At first, Gyasi was just helping out of obligation, but soon he saw the potential. “She was getting calls from newspapers, magazines, and was getting famous around the world… London, Africa, the West Coast. being invited to seminars and workshops,” says Gyasi. “Wow, she can travel the world with this.”
Before his mother passed away, Gyasi began her farmhand and partner. "My mom was the brains… I was the muscle,” he laughs. “I was the leg man, the errand boy, the mushroom lifter... all of the physical stuff.” Gyasi wishes he could have traveled the world with his mother to present at more speaking engagements, but “someone had to hold down the fort,” he jokes. Kai will be missed by more than just a few mushroom fans. She was a true innovator and community leader, named one of Cleveland Magazine’s Most Interesting People in 2015, and impacted people outside of her passion. “The community that we’re in is not very rich, not very poor,” says Gyasi, “but lacking a lot of information.” Until their neighbors and friends visited the farm, “they didn’t know about the Land Bank, or that you can write a grant,” says Gyasi. He plans to continue the farm, which now operates with a hoop house bordering Shaker Square, and continue the community change his mother began. “Eventually, I want to franchise these hoop houses,” he imagines. “I want there to be one for every McDonald’s and Burger King."