Shiitake mushroom cultivation at Forest Harvest.

Forest Harvest is in Petersham, MA surrounded by conservation land that includes the Harvard Forest and the Swift River Reservation tract of The Trustees of Reservations.

The entire region is agricultural, with a predominance of organic or sustainable farming methods. The Forest Harvest way of farming is strictly natural — simply allowing the decomposition of logs by mycelium under a forest canopy. Ingredients are logs from local woodlands, mycelium varieties from organic cultivators, and artesian waters of the Quabbin watershed.

The Farmer: Leo Mondragon grows several varieties of shiitake mushrooms in the traditional Japanese manner. Near the end of each winter, he begins with locally harvested oak logs – the very tops of felled trees – and inoculates them with mycelium strains. All else is left to nature as the logs rest under our hemlock and pine canopy. The nuances of cultivation are sometimes subtle and it keeps the craft interesting. Walking into the woods, in anticipation of a day’s harvest, and finding a burst of fruiting shiitake — is an excitement that never fades.

Leo Mondragon at Forest Harvest amid Shiitake mushroom
The happy farmer, Leo Mondragon.

The Forager: I began hunting wild mushrooms and other wild edibles long before I began cultivating mushrooms. Indeed, wild mushrooms are the bulk of Forest Harvest sales. They are all foraged, sustainably, in and around New England, the Ohio Valley and regions south, as well as recent ventures into Quebec and New Brunswick. I don’t know what gives me more pleasure — hunting or cultivating. But something that I can say, the mushrooms I provide are absolutely the best available — all fresh and local and many varieties not offered elsewhere.

Availability: Fresh produce is naturally dictated by the seasons and weather, usually spanning May through November.

Customers: I currently sell Forest Harvest mushrooms and seasonal wild edibles, through a local farmer, at a farmer’s market in Boston, and in larger quantities to gourmet restaurants in New York and Boston — restaurants which thrive on fresh, local ingredients and a personal business relationship style.

In The News

Foodies of New England Winter 2017 Edition
Mercurio, Domenic D. Jr.. “Shiitake Is This Shogun’s Shtick.” Foodies of New England, Dec 15, 2016, pp. 64-69.

This mushroom master not only grows multiple varieties of shiitake, but he also elaborately sets the cultivation stage using only the 4-to 5-foot-long top sections of locally-harvested, felled New England oak trees, stacking them in a crisscross pattern, and then inoculating each one with mycelium culture strains so they become the fertile source from whence these monstrous mushrooms mature.

Shiitake is this Shogun’s Shtick. Photography by Scott Erb, Donna Dufault.
Harvesting A Forest Farm, Image by Michael Piazza

Harvesting a Forest Farm
LeRoux, Margaret. “Harvesting a Forest Farm.” edibleBOSTON, Spring 2013. Recipient of the 2011 James Beard Foundation Publication of the Year Award.

Twelve different strains of shiitakes grow at Forest Harvest Farm, including Japanese, Chinese, and Siberian. Some, like the Japanese and Chinese adapt well to warm weather, while the Siberians are more plentiful in the cold weather.

Mycophilia Takes Root in Northeast
Weatherall, Helen. “Mycophilia Takes Root in Northeast as Pioneering Massachusetts Mushroom Farmer Grows Market for Organic Caps.” SeedSTOCK, December 14, 2012.

Food of the wood
Eckelbecker, Lisa. “Food of the woods.” Worcester Living, August 26, 2011.

Forest Harvest, bills its mushrooms as “beyond organic.”… It’s the food of the woods.

Food of the woods, Photography by Christine Peterson.


Christian Pulgisi (Relæ chef and Noma alum), Leo Mondragon, and Dan Barber.

Blue Hill at Stone Barns
Dan Barber, Executive Chef & Co-owner

Blue Hill at Stone Barns
630 Bedford Road
Pocantico Hills, New York 10591

Leo’s continuous collaboration with Dan has spanned over 15 years. Consultations include wild foods processing and preparation as well as preservation methods. The restaurant and Dan continue to receive numerous awards. These include categories from the James Beard Foundation and The World’s 50 Best Restaurants.

See video of Leo and his farming methods on Blue Hill’s website,“know thy farmer” or on youtube.

Stillman’s Farm
Glenn Stillman – farmer, entomologist, botanist, biologist

Stillman’s Farm
1205 Barre Rd
New Braintree, MA 01531

Stillman’s Farm occasionally sells Forest Harvest log-grown shiitake at the Boston Public Market. Check their calendar for the times and locations of the many farmer’s markets they supply.


Field & Forest Products
Mycelium – certified organic mushroom spawns and other supplies for “natural” log cultivation

If you are interested in large quantities, such as for your restaurant, please contact Leo for details at 978-724-0208.