Joe Landis and Kari Wendt both grew up in rural Iowa, but neither had a real interest in farming until they graduated from college and moved to Maine. While living on the East Coast, they became interested in organic gardening and self-sufficiency, and started reading books by Helen and Scott Nearing, who heavily influenced the "back to the land" movement of the 1960s and '70s, and Elliot Coleman, an advocate for small, organic farms. Landis and Wendt adopted the philosophy of these authors, who also happened to be living in Maine, and decided to begin growing as much produce for themselves as they could. That included many attempts at growing mushrooms.
It was not always an easy road, and a lot of progress was made by trial and error. After lots of hard work, Landis and Wendt were able to grow mushrooms successfully. They wanted to start a business based on their newfound passion, but the pair were renting property at the time and had limited space for growing.
Ultimately, they moved to their current location in McFarland and launched the Herb 'n Oyster Mushroom Farm. Landis and Wendt began selling their mushrooms commercially, but were not able to secure a spot at the Dane County Farmers' Market for three seasons, due to the long waiting list. This summer marks their second at the downtown market.
Every Saturday, the farm offers a selection of gourmet mushrooms, dried mushrooms, fresh herbs, and mushroom seasonings. Oyster mushrooms have proven to be the most popular item. Customers are often attracted by the array of colors that the mushrooms display, including red, white, blue, and yellow. Lion's Mane, which can also be found at the Willy Street Co-op, is also a popular variety of mushroom, due to its seafood-like flavor.
Herb n' Oyster can be found on either Mifflin or Carroll streets at the , and the