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Akitig is trying to transform our food system all the while cleaning up our environment. They do exceptional work based on an absolutely brilliant idea and it’s important to us not only to congratulate them but to share with you exactly how they’re cleaning up and transforming Quebec’s forests. Founded by agricultural engineers Isabela Jatczak et Patrick Lemieux, the company’s mission is to “give health to the forests that have been abused by the forest industry” using common sense and technology. As they say, “the solution is delicious” since the result of their efforts is a local organic shiitake mushroom that’s not only sustainable but restorative! How do they do it? The concept is as simple as it is brilliant. “Half of Quebec’s territory is forest that has been over-exploited by the forest industry. The natural tree species have been removed, trembling aspen has multiplied itself densely in the created free space, and is choking the forest ecosystem,” say the founders. Akitig removes the invasive species from the forests (leaving the natural species in place), transport them to their ultra-modern production facility, and use their trunks to grow mushrooms. Shiitake grow on wood so they naturally feed on the logs, producing organic mushrooms that can then be brought to market. The logs are used for mushroom growth for two years. During these two years, the natural tree species that were left in the forest have all the room and the resources they need, as they’re not competing with the invasive species. This gives the forest a chance to regenerate and to undergo a quick growth spurt. After two years of shiitake harvesting, the half decomposed logs where the mushrooms grew are ground down and brought back to the forest. From there, the shiitake spores recycle this sawdust into rich and fertile soil, thickening the forest floor and stimulating the natural regeneration process. Given their background in agricultural engineering, technology is also at the heart of Akitig’s forest restoration project. “We have invented a robot that pierces the logs, inserts a mushroom culture, and seals the holes with food grade wax, all very rapidly! With this robot, we are equipped to repair all our forests, all the while growing thousands of tons of shiitake - to cultivate your health!” Akitig strongly believes in what they call “the power of infinite positive cultivation”. Simply put, it’s a food production system that gives nature as much, if not more, than what it takes out of it. Interestingly, this is what the company’s logo represents. Akitig sells their fresh mushrooms, of course, but if you’d like to grow your own at home, they also sell logs fully seeded with shiitake spores for all you urban mycologists out there.