The Fungi Connection is made up of a team committed to progressive, sustainable, and creative agricultural solutions with fungi at the centre. What began in 2018 as Kelly's Gourmet Mushrooms on Wolfe Island, Ontario, quickly evolved into a centre of training, agritourism, agtech, and research devoted to the pursuit of cultivating the highest quality gourmet and medicinal mushrooms in Ontario and beyond. Now established near Kingston, Ontario, The Fungi Connection supports wholesale mushroom operations, supplies home chefs, restaurants, local grocers, farmers markets, and other small and medium-sized mushroom growers with fresh mushrooms, growing supplies, and education.
Originally from Tillsonburg, Ontario, Darin grew up with a love of the outdoors, camping, fishing, hiking, and growing things. Driven by his love of all things in nature, Darin focused on Physical Geography at University, which led to a master’s degree in Dendroclimatology at Indiana State University. Darin and Deb’s combined passion for the challenges of growing resulted in their first farm, ‘Good Life Farms’ in Indiana. Beginning with land crops of small-batch organics, and eventually the development of hydroponics, Good Life Farms became one of the largest hydroponic lettuce, basil, and heirloom field tomato producers in the state of Indiana. In 2017, with that same focus and determination, but for mushroom farming, the family relocated to Ontario to start their full-time gourmet mushroom farm. Their passion for quality mushroom production led Darin and Deb to study under Paul Stamets at his training institution, the Fungi Perfecti in Olympia WA. With his agricultural business experience and extensive education in agriculture, Darin also offers training to people who want to start hobby or commercial mushroom operations. Since returning to Canada, Darin has focused entirely on the commercial mushroom business.
Deb McKee Kelly
Born and raised in Terre Haute, Indiana, Deb spent most of her young life fascinated with agriculture and all things in nature. Her love of music as a violinist, and education in English Literature and a degree in Law had Deb delay her pursuit in agriculture. But she was always drawn back to greenhouses, gardens, and the natural world. In 2007 Deb met Darin and their combined love of compost and growing began, and they have never looked back. Deb has many years of experience in presenting, teaching, public speaking, and writing, with her favourite subject being the future of agriculture and the training of tomorrow's farmers. A long-time violinist and book collector, and mushroom fanatic,Deb says it ‘feels like a circle is being completed, from a young kid fascinated by nature to crop farmer and then a successful hydroponic business owner to a mushroom grower using mushrooms to feed and heal our customers—well, that’s our life’s work… and our passion!’ Deb can often be found in the fruiting room and lab and if she is not there, she is inspecting the various insects and creatures that visit the farm.