VIRGINIA BEACH, VA - "This is the mushroom hut, come on in," says Ryan Staab.
The mushrooms he's growing inside are weird-looking and wild.
"These are chestnut mushrooms, also known as cinnamon caps. They kinda look like pretzels," he says as we enter a small warehouse on Cleveland Street in Virginia Beach.
Staab is the "fun-gi" (get it?), grower and cultivator behind Capstone Mushroom in Virginia Beach.
"I was hiking the Appalachian Trail and found mushrooms, and I became curious as to what they were," he said.
That was in 2018. He then interned at a mushroom farm and was so suckered into the shrooms, he decided to open up a little urban farm in the midst of the pandemic.
"I thought there was a niche that should be explored more," Staab said.
He started by trying to sell his varieties to restaurants, but that didn't sprout due to the pandemic.
"Mushrooms are fascinating, people overlook them but so many have medicinal potentials," he said.
Staab quickly switched to selling and educating the public about his passion at farmers' markets.
"Public demand became so high, and keeping up with their interest has been a challenge," he said.
He propagates different varieties on fake logs or with a substrate, and they spring to life indoors in a hot and humid grow tent.
"We've got blue oysters, king trumpets, pink oyster, shiitake, lion's mane, and many more," he shows us.
Staab says his goal is to open your eyes to the edible underdog. He enjoys celebrating the culinary cap through education.
"Connecting the consumer to the farmer is a cool experience, and just like mushrooms spread, the enjoyment is spreading too," he said.