Tucker Pforzheimer and Truman French are mushroom farmers with tents full of logs and a passion for shiitakes. The duo are the brains, heart, sweat and soul behind MV Mycological, the Island’s largest mushroom producer.

The pair met in college and turned to farming mushrooms because it turns out the Vineyard is a prime location for them. When asked what that means, Mr. French gestured to the foggy morning that had recently been under the siege of a torrential downpour.

“This, this is what it means,” he said.

The best mushrooms are grown on trees, lots of them. — Jeanna Shepard

The Island, forested by white oak with air heavy with humidity, produces a flavorful shiitake that soaks up the woodiness, the dampness and the robustness of the earth. The mushrooms have also turned out to be a favorite of Island chefs. Cut from the log without much stem, the cost is all for the cap, to the delight of chefs and home cooks alike. It started with Dan Sauer of 7a, taking a chance on some mushrooms grown in the woods of Chilmark by the two recent college grads. Then it spread to Hal Ryerson, who now owns Sweet Life Cafe with his wife Erin. The mushrooms star at Behind the Bookstore in the Shiitacos and made it to Garde East this year through chef de cuisine Carlos Montoya.

“They are the best shiitake I’ve had in my entire life,” Mr. Montoya said. “People need to eat more mushrooms, especially these guy’s mushrooms.”

The secret is in the logs. Many mushrooms are grown in warehouses in beds of sawdust. MV Mycological mushrooms are grown outside on logs harvested from sites around the Island. The guys will come in and clear away trees chopped down on a lot for free, like they recently did for a new landowner on Huckleberry Hill lane in Edgartown.

MV Mycological is a surprisingly small operation that is quickly growing. “The first year we had one tent, that was one third the size of one of these tents,” said Mr. Pforzheimer. “And somehow that occupied all our time.”

It's all about the caps. — Jeanna Shepard

“Every year, we tell ourselves we’re going to hire people, and then we end up just being able to do the work,” added Mr. French. “We’ve expanded 20-fold and still have the same amount of people.”

Mr. Pforzheimer’s younger brothers, Ross and Jack, round out the crew, often singing show tunes as they stack logs into square towers in the woods. Thinking back to the early days of MV Mycological, Mr. Pforzheimer admitted to not knowing exactly how they occupied their time.

“I think we went to the beach a lot,” said Mr. French.

“I think we took a lot of naps,” said Mr. Pforzheimer.

“Naps are good,” Mr. French agreed.

“I think we formulated all our dystopian theories about the world . . . that’s important for two mushroom farmers,” added Mr. Pforzheimer.

Now, in their third year, they scramble to keep up with orders, and start every morning with a harvest and end the afternoon with a second harvest. The two met in Biology of Fungi class as undergraduates at Harvard. Mr. French is an Island kid, who graduated top of his class from Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School in 2008. Mr. Pforzheimer is from a restaurant family in Connecticut. They weren’t friends until a professor brought them together.

“We were just always the first people in class and we didn’t talk to each other,” said Mr. Pforzheimer. “And the professor was like, you just went to Patagonia, you also just went to Patagonia, there’s a map over there, you guys should talk to each other.”

Soon enough they bonded in class during mushroom walks, calling out, “Hey, Professor Pfister, can we eat this one? No. Can we eat this one?”

The Vineyard's humidity and abundance of White Oaks makes it a perfect mushroom habitat. — Jeanna Shepard

Mr. Pforzheimer and Mr. French were also drawn to mushrooms because of the low carbon footprint and high amount of protein. When considering other trendy proteins, like crickets, nothing quite stood up to mushrooms.

“My beef with insects is they are fed human food, you feed crickets grain, it’s trophically inefficient. If you want chitin [a nitrogen-containing polysaccharide] grow mushrooms, not crickets,” said Mr. Pforzheimer. “And a mushroom is much tastier than a cricket.”

With the use of some land owned by a family friend and a little ingenuity when it comes to knocking on kitchen doors, they landed on the shiitake as the best choice.

“We could have farmed anything, this made the most sense” said Mr. French.

Due to his experience in restaurants, Mr. Pforzheimer knew that the ideal time to stop by a kitchen and not get chased away by the chef is between 1:30 and 3:30 p.m. He also knew that mushroom guys are notoriously unreliable, often not returning for weeks while they restocked by foraging.

“That’s how our whole production developed, is to be a reliable source in-season,” said Mr. Pforzheimer. Right now, they sell to 15 to 18 private and public chefs on the Island. Mr. Pforzheimer said he views the chefs as a way to get the shiitakes onto the public palette, following the ascent of kale, chia seeds, quinoa and other healthy food trends. And while the health benefits of the mushroom may make it hip, the delivery is all in the flavor.

“This is not a smoke and mirrors product, this is not something that tastes like crap and we convince you that it’s good for you,” Mr. Pforzheimer said. “This is something that tastes amazing...this is, as far as we’re concerned, the best cultivated mushroom there is.”

And it’s sustainable. They see their farm as a test for the region, and shiitakes as a product that could be reliably and flavorably produced across the northeast in the future. While they are quick to tout the mushroom’s virtues, the guys are also realists.

“This isn’t necessarily the silver bullet, this isn’t the panacea,” Mr. French said.

But it’s a step. And with mushrooms that have complex earthen flavor that coats the top of the tongue, slips to the sides and lingers in the throat, it isn’t that hard to convince people to eat shiitakes.

Find MV Mycological mushrooms at Morning Glory farm stand, the West Tisbury farmer’s market, or at several Island restaurants.