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Six years ago — with low to no expectations — a plant biologist in Leicestershire, Great Britain planted truffle fungus at the base of trees on 20 different farms. The BBC reports that this week Dr. Paul Thomas was surprised to discover a black truffle under a young holly-oak tree on one of those farms. "I was walking to the first tree to take my annual root sample but when I pulled the grass aside, I found a large and very rare prize. I was in complete shock. I jumped backwards, dropped my tools and ran back to the farmhouse," Thomas told the Yorkshire Post, "It was an incredible moment and myself and the farmers we were all jumping around and it felt so surreal."

This is the birth of the UK truffle industry.

The scientist with a penchant for truffles — he apparently has "the largest network of truffle sites world-wide" — calls this the "birth of the UK truffle industry," and explained to the BBC, "I had dreamed about this moment for many years. We used to produce loads; there are records of Queen Victoria being presented with the biggest truffle of the season." But how does he know that more of those six-year-old spores will grow into truffles? Thomas has a hunch, and is running with it. He's now focused on finding farmers and partners to help "raise the prominence and reputation of the British truffle industry."

For decades, black and white truffles could only be found organically in parts of France and Italy. In recent years, Australia and Oregon have succeeded in establishing fruitful black truffle farms. No country has successfully cultivated a white truffle, the priciest of all fungi. And while truffles from the New World do not fetch the same prices that Old World truffles do, that could change as demand increases and more countries get in on this sought-after power crop.

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