By Samantha Trezevant

The pandemic left many residents with downtime, which resulted in new hobbies, new experiments and new interests for many. One Hillsborough County local decided to spend his time fueling his new passion—growing mushrooms.

Rhett Pennington and his wife unintentionally became very successful growing mushrooms of all kinds. Pennington is an entrepreneur who has been in business since 1982. Within this time, he has been involved in the printing industry, ministry and now does real estate full-time with his wife. Furthermore, he and his wife buy, flip and sell houses. Although they keep themselves busy, COVID-19 caused them to slow down a bit.

Over quarantine, the couple researched the way everyday food is produced and learned toxins that go into chicken and beef while they are processed. This resulted in them changing their diet to be vegan. Pennington figured he would experiment in growing vegetables to supplement their new lifestyle.

Initially, he learned hydroponics, a method of growing vegetables without soil. After a lot of trial and error, Pennington decided this is not quite what he wanted to do. He continued to investigate ways to grow fresh produce for himself and his wife and he stumbled along the process of growing mushrooms. Fascinated, he decided to give it a try.

He bought the necessary equipment, built a lab and learned the intricate steps of growing mushrooms the safe way.

Pennington said, “You definitely have to have a little bit of scientist in you.” Because this is such a controlled process, the mushrooms are almost completely organic and 100 percent safe and sanitary.

Pennington grows many different types of mushrooms ranging from a variety of oyster mushrooms to specialties, such as shiitake, reishi, bear’s head and many more. One of the most special mushrooms that he grows is the lion’s mane mushroom. This is the number one mushroom in the world as it contains amazing health benefits, such as lowering cholesterol, blood pressure and helping to fight against cancer. These traits are common in many other mushrooms that Pennington grows as well.

Pennington has seen great success in his new hobby. His official business name is Capital Mushrooms and he is a direct seller to the Tampa Hyatt and the new Fields and Table produce market opening this spring. For more information, call 625-6900. His produce is also available through Cypress Creek Co-Op.

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