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Cover Story
The First Commercial Installation
Bainbridge Farm uses mycofiltration to protect stream and salmon

Cover Story: L-R Barbara Eddy, owner Barnabee Farm with contractor, David Godbolt, Sentinel ConstructionBarbara Eddy has had a passion for horses for many years, and about three decades ago found a way to follow that passion. She moved from Seattle to Bainbridge Island after buying land to turn it into a farm. Through the years, her passion has evolved into Barnabee Farm, where she now boards 17 horses with the help of five employees. The facility also has a trainer who offers riding lessons, and outside experts occasionally come to offer workshops.

Eddy said she’s always been environmentally conscious about the stream that runs through the property. Salmon come upstream every few years to spawn. She has made sure horses have no access to the stream, and has also installed a storm-water settlement pond and a bioswale. In December, she went one step further to protect it: She selected an innovative mycofiltration product that naturally takes care of fecal coliform bacteria.

The Team — Contractor, Owner and the Kitsap Conservation DistrictDeveloped by Fungi Perfecti, a company located outside of Shelton, the product consists of biodegradable bags filled with alder chips inoculated with mycelia, a mushroom that eats contaminants as a food source. Runoff is first filtered by natural vegetation, then moves to the bioswale, where the Fungi Perfecti bags have been installed in a such a way as not to be immersed in water because the mushrooms die when submerged.

Water drains downhill from ranch“We were looking for solutions. We wanted to prove that the pollution on the stream wasn’t coming from Barnabee Farm and if there was some, we wanted to take care of it,” said David Godbolt, owner of Sentinel Construction, which has been working on various projects on the farm. “Barbara Eddy is very proactive in this arena and very protective of Mother Nature.”

Godbolt and Eddy worked with the Kitsap Conservation District on the solution. Rich Geiger, district engineer who designed the installation, had worked with Fungi Perfecti in the past as the company developed the technology. He said as far as he is aware, this is the first commercially paid installation of its kind of the product, which has been scientifically tested as well as used at other farms.

Salmon stream next to property“Mycofiltration is the only means I know of where you can apply a filter and the filter actually consumes the contaminant and eats it as food,” said Geiger, who made the recommendation for Fungi Perfecti as a way of mitigating fecal coliform contamination. “The fungus is an excellent physical filter — it creates a network of fibers that are one cell wide, seen only through a microscope.”

He said the results should be immediate because the bags had mature fungus, though the mushrooms do go dormant in cold weather. The installation should be effective for about a year, he said, and after that the mycelium has to be replenished. One idea is to not use bags and instead inoculate the wood chips directly in the field.

Wood chips part of micro filtration bagsThe process has a secondary benefit. As the mycelium starts consuming bacteria, it releases nutrients for plants in the vegetative barrier. “Those plants will flourish and the plants are also effective at removing bacteria and releasing enzymes that promote growth of things that consume fecal coliform bacteria,” Geiger said. “It’s what we call a supercharge, it’s making the rest of the biofiltration more effective.”

The Kitsap Conservation District will continue to be involved with the project and help monitor its impact. Brian Stohl, technical resource coordinator, said a meeting in January with representatives from the district, Fungi Perfecti, city of Bainbridge and the farm will determine a testing and monitoring program. He said as a pilot project, the location is perfect because of its proximity to the stream as well as the existing pond.

Bags installed alongside pond.Stohl said Eddy’s willingness to do whatever it takes to protect the natural resources is “impressive.” “She’s doing this on her own and going above and beyond a lot of expectations for making the property environmentally friendly,” he said.

Eddy said she is excited to be a pioneer in a way, piloting the mycofiltration technology as the first commercial property. She said finding a cost-effective remedy was important. “I’m waiting to see the results and from what I’ve learned, I expect to see good results,” she said. “I plan to continue using it, if it’s successful, and share the results, and hopefully encourage other people and farms to do the same.”

She credits the conservation district and Sentinel Construction with the success of the project. “David Godbolt has been a terrific guide in this project and his employees have been tremendous help,” she said.

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