My Truffle Adventure

It started on a cold February day in 2009 when I was home watching daytime TV, specifically Martha Stewart. She had a segment on truffles, and it rocked my world. I was looking for something to grow on our three acre parcel in the mountains of southern California at 7100’, Since the growing season is fairly short, mid June to mid October a lot of crops were eliminated. After doing some research I determined that truffles was the crop I would raise. Truffles grow symbiotically with certain types of trees. They are found naturally around the world, but cultivating truffles requires planting a tree that has been inoculated with truffle spores.
Initially I thought it would be the ideal crop. I was still working full time about 2 hrs away from the property, so I didn’t have much time to spend on the mountain. My plan was to plant the trees, walk away from them until I retired, then harvest and sell this very sought after fungus. I was completely mistaken. The process has taken a lot of work, energy and financial input.
We had to drill a well, because we don’t get enough rainfall to support a truffle. We had to install fencing after the local burros found the trees and loved eating the tender tips of these young trees. We are constantly fighting the gophers, squirrels, rabbits and coyotes that either like the roots or breaking open irrigation lines in the heat of the summer to get water.
But the journey has been a great adventure, where I have learned so much, kept fit from working in the orchard, met some great people, traveled the world learning about truffle cultivation, and welcomed a new member into our family, Bella. She is a Lagotto Romagnolo and she loves hunting truffles with her big nose and hefty paws. She always has a dirty face because she’s always digging for truffles. Dogs are used to harvest truffles, because they can detect ripe truffles and don’t eat the truffles as pigs are prone to do.