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Watch: The Last of France's Underground Mushroom Growers

There's a network of quarries where the crops grow

In some sense, growing mushrooms is as much art as agriculture. Though industrial farming seeks to eliminate the uncertainties of mushroom cultivation, a new video from Great Big Story highlights a few growers who harvest fungi from underground systems in France. It's not foraging, but it is an art. In a network of quarries in Évecquemont, just northwest of Paris, mushrooms breed and blossom in a moist, fertile underground environment.

Mushrooms that grow in these quarries absorb elements of their surroundings, according to Angel Moioli, one of the few underground mushroom growers left. It takes four weeks to harvest the mushrooms — which take on flinty, mineral-forward characteristics — and the growers prioritize taste over volume. Moioli says his method of harvesting mushrooms has been practiced for years, but this system is in danger of extinction because of the increase in industrial mushroom farming in France and across the globe. Watch to learn why these growers want to preserve this unique mushroom growing method.

Le Champion des Champignones: Growing Mushrooms in the Dark [Great Big Story]