Avery Stempel has been fascinated by fungi for a while.

He says it started as a kid, when he would explore the wilderness with his father. Stempel says he would search for different colored mushrooms.

These days, he doesn’t have to travel far to find an array of options. Earlier this year, Stempel officially opened Collar City Mushrooms in Lansingburgh.

“It has been a dream for a long time to be able to walk through a room of growing mushrooms,” says Stempel.

Collar City Mushrooms grows more than a dozen different varieties of mushrooms, including shiitake, lions mane, and blue oysters.

The goal is for everything Collar City Mushrooms makes to help the community and environment. Stempel and his team use environmental friendly products. During a time when food insecurity is increasing, they’ve also created partnerships with other local organizations.

“We have a partnership right now with a couple local growers and Albany Victory Gardens, and all of the bags that we grow in are actually biodegradable, and so this whole thing will get composted and that will just get turned into a community garden in Albany,” says Stempel.

He has also been working with Capital Roots.

Stempel and his team have built much of Collar City Mushrooms’ storefront and lab themselves. Each room of the building serves a purpose and is constructed in a way to allow students from local schools to come and learn about mushroom development.

“We’re going to be able to send schools home, back to their classrooms, with bags of mushrooms that they can grow in their classroom. So they can see the process unfold right before their eyes,” says Stempel.

The plan is to expand in the future. Soon, Collar City Mushrooms anticipates offering salts, spices, and teas.

Stempel’s ultimate goal is to open a commercial kitchen and stage.