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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

Top five best places to grow mushrooms on campus

Bianca Oppedisano
A mushroom grows by the dank stairwell. Illustration by Bianca Oppedisano / Mass Media Staff.

Oh, mushrooms, how I adore you so. Nature’s perfect little treat. The resident sanitation workers of the forest, decomposing the most vile of rotted flesh, converting death into nutrients and bringing the cycle of life full circle. Whether it be baby bella, portobello, shiitake, white, enoki, oyster, king oyster, shimeji, porcini or any other variant, mushrooms provide the human body with a plethora of health benefits, and unlike other foods, there’s really no such thing as having too many mushrooms. 

Despite their favorable abilities, mushrooms can cost a pretty penny from standard supermarkets which is why the most cost-efficient way of getting your daily dose of shrooms is by growing them yourself. Like all the best things in life, mushrooms require dank, dark, lonely places with good vibrations to reach their full potential, and luckily for us, UMass Boston specializes in the dank and dark. So without further ado, I present to you the indisputable, unquestionable, objectively flawless top five best places on campus to grow mushrooms.  

Number five: Campus Center Parking Garage

Coming in at the bottom of the list is the Campus Center Parking Garage. Located underneath the university’s beating heart and easily accessible from the building’s lower level, the garage offers some potential for mushroom growth—not great potential, but potential nonetheless. Upon entering the garage through the doors near the game room, walk to the left until you reach an unused area with a nice scenic balcony overlooking the entrance ramp. This is your spot. 

Disappointingly, the garage scores embarrassingly low in dankness, darkness and loneliness with a minuscule four, three and one out of ten respectively. The only saving grace is the vibes which score a perfect 10 out of 10. With only 18 shroom points total, it’s no wonder this spot’s in last place, but at least you’ll be chilling in style, watching the cars rolling in under your feet. That overhang really is a nice touch.

Number four: Fred’s Shroom Bus

If you’ve never seen Fred’s Shroom Bus, I guess you’ve never hung out in the West Parking Garage at night. Arriving promptly at 11 p.m. every day, Fred’s modified class-B school bus is adorned with ’60s-inspired psychedelic artwork that he painted himself and offers a controlled environment ideal for mushroom growth. The shrooms that Fred usually grows may not be suitable for a stir fry—unless you’re trying to stir up a trip into the inner reaches of your mind—however, space can be rented inside the bus for a small fee of having to listen to his guided meditation tapes. 

Dankness is a five out of 10, darkness is a seven, loneliness is a three—thanks to Fred—and the vibes are a formidable eight out of 10. This makes for a grand total of 23 shroom points and a location more than suitable for fungus cultivation. While he’s a bit of an acquired taste, nobody can deny that Fred’s a fun man. 

Number three: Healey Library—Stairwell 1

Most people prefer the elevator to get around Healey, but the true adventurers take the stairs. It was on one of these adventures that I stumbled upon a spot so perfect for growing mushrooms that I nearly cried. Through the door marked, “Stairway 1,” all the way down into the lower bowels of the building and past a set of strange markings on the wall—what these symbols could mean, I’m at a loss—you’ll come upon a tiny cubby space tucked carefully away underneath the stairs perfect for planting mushroom spores.

This lost stairwell scores a modest six on dankness and a nine in both the categories of darkness and loneliness. However, despite these high scores, the vibes here are sub-par, only scoring a two. I mean, a grimy, desolate crack at the bottom of a grimy, desolate staircase doesn’t exactly scream “cool” so you probably want to avoid being caught hanging out down there, but for 27 shroom points, it may just be worth the social ridicule. 

Number two: Bobby’s Boneyard 

You may have heard the disembodied screams or perhaps smelled the musty aroma emanating from the air vents in Wheatley Hall. This isn’t just the black mold in the walls, it’s the essence of Bobby’s Boneyard making itself known. In a past life, it was known as the Wheatley Parking Garage, but today, this dilapidated space has been repurposed into school mascot, Bobby Beacon’s, personal residence, something he passionately refers to as his “Boneyard,” whatever that’s supposed to mean. 

Regardless, many of the traditional features you’d expect from a subterranean cellar remain, such as cold, drafty air, random pools of murky water and enough cobwebs to fill a moderately sized passenger jet. The Boneyard represents something of an equilibrium in the mushroom sphere, scoring solid sevens across all categories for a satisfying 28 shroom points total. Just be sure to save Bobby a piece of the harvest. He told me to inform you that he likes portobellos the best. 

Number one: QuinnThe Depths 

For most students, Quinn flies under the radar, representing nothing more than a minor pitstop on the path to either Healey or the Integrated Science Center. If you think something seems suspicious, you’d be correct. The University has worked tirelessly to ensure that the system of underground catacombs underneath the building has remained hidden from public knowledge. However, those who are able to navigate these treacherous stairwells and tunnels will be rewarded with mushroom Nirvana.  

If the whole “sulking in a cave like Gollum” thing is for you, this mysterious fungus land provides unholy levels of dankness and darkness as well as complete isolation from the above world. The depths score an impressive 10 in dankness, an eight in darkness, a nine in loneliness and an eight in vibes for a whopping 35 shroom points. Growing mushrooms down here, you may never want to leave. You may just become a mushroom yourself. Of course, this leads one to think, maybe there was a reason the University wished to keep this place hidden.  

About the Contributors
Joe DiPersio, Humor Editor
Bianca Oppedisano, Illustrator