Mushroom farm granted extension

By Lois Pearlman, Argus-Courier Staff

Thompson Lane residents only have to put up with offensive compost smells
for six more months, according to Duncan Soldner who works as a
consultant for the Petaluma Mushroom Farm.

That's how long Sonoma County supervisors have given the farm to eliminate
its on-site composting operations and begin importing their mushroom
compost from a company in Colusa County.

On July 23, supervisors agreed to the six month extension. It is the fourth
extension they have granted the mushroom farm since telling it to shut down
composting operations in 2000.

But Soldner indicated that this time will be the last. By Dec. 31 the
mushroom farm will be trucking compost from Colusa Mushroom, a new
company located 105 miles from the Thompson Lane mushroom farm.

The trip will be about two and a half hours each way, according to Soldner
who is the owner of Colusa Mushroom.

The specially prepared mushroom compost is the growing medium for the
button and portobello mushrooms which the Thompson Lane farm has been
cultivating since 1973.

Currently the farm produces about 100,000 pounds of mushrooms a week.
Soldner said he expects the volume to remain the same.

"We're sort of maxed out now," he said.

It is also the main bone of contention between Thompson Lane residents and
the mushroom farm's owner, Dave Cerini. The composing operations cause
the infamous stench which blankets the neighborhood at various times during
the composting process and the pollution that has brought the San Francisco
Bay Regional Water Quality Control Board down on the farm owner's back.

Cerini purchased two different properties --in Bloomfield and Middle Two
Rock Road -- in an attempt to move the composting operations from
Thompson Lane, but he encountered local opposition at both locations.

Thompson Lane neighbors were not happy with the latest six-month
extension, but they believe the end is in sight.

"We're disappointed with the ruling," said a neighbor. "The only ray of
hope is that Mike Kerns (south county supervisor) said he doesn't expect to
see them back again. I certainly hope it's true. That's what's going to solve
the problems in our neighborhood. We've been waiting a long time."

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