Army vet, UGA prof, experiences hope in the art of growing Classic City Gourmet Mushrooms

Nov 11th, 2022

Sara Skinner joined the U.S. Army straight out of high school. After graduating West Point (where she met her husband), she spent 12 years as a military police officer. She was stationed all over the world, including two tours in Iraq.

When she left the Army in 2007, Sara wanted to keep helping veterans and the military community. She pursued a master’s degree, then a Ph.D. in social work so she could better work with fellow veterans and help in advocacy work with veterans’ organizations.

Sara now teaches at the University of Georgia where she’s designed courses on military social work to help other clinicians work with veterans and military families.

Even while she was in the Army, she and her husband had a garden. She knows firsthand the power found in seeing things come alive, especially after seeing so much destroyed during her time in the Middle East.

“Farming is a wonderful career path for vets. It’s very therapeutic. There’s a lot of hope embedded in the art of growing things,” Sara said.

When she started growing mushrooms, she found them interesting, fun to grow, even a bit addictive as a hobby. During the pandemic she got more serious, creating Classic City Gourmet Mushrooms in 2021 with the help of her husband and their two teenage boys.

But she quickly found that as she scaled up her operation, she was having a hard time finding customers to buy all the mushrooms she was growing. That’s when she heard from her friends at Opa Robby’s Market about Market Wagon. She realized it was a perfect fit for her needs.

Market Wagon’s online platform allows Sara to supply people who live more than two hours away from her operation in Athens (especially if traffic is bad) with delicious Oyster mushrooms without having to make the drive herself. Plus, she can update her inventory each week with the latest varieties she’s harvested.

Sara says while she may be a professor with countless hours teaching in the classroom, when it comes to mushrooms, she’s still very much a student. Nevertheless she finds real joy in being immersed in a classroom of rich, brown dirt and surrounded by living things.

All mushrooms on Market Wagon from Classic City Gourmet Mushrooms are grown by Sara and her family, not foraged. While some are harvested from outdoor beds, most are grown in climate-controlled indoor grow rooms. Sara tries to be as sustainable as possible using biodegradable or reusable materials when she can.

If you’re looking to try something for yourself from Classic City, you can’t go wrong with the mushroom mix which provides a 1/2 lb. blend of assorted mushrooms, varieties which may include lion’s mane, shiitake or winecaps. Sara also sells dried oyster mushrooms as well as mushroom grow kits with all the ingredients and instructions you need to grow your own.

You can hear more about Sara's story when you tune into Season 2 Episode 2 of More Than A Mile

Click here to read more stories about military veterans who are finding success on the Market Wagon platform as well as see a complete list of veterans on Market Wagon.