FORT LUPTON, Colo. — Jake Plummer's name is known throughout Colorado among football fans.
Plummer spent four years as the quarterback for the Denver Broncos, leading the team to the AFC Championship Game in 2005. However, Plummer is not defined by his NFL career. Instead, he has found a new passion on a farm in Fort Lupton.
“I'm a mushroom farmer now," Plummer said with a laugh.
At MyCoLove Farm is the beginning of a Colorado company called Umbo. Plummer, along with his friends Del Jolly and Rashad Evans, co-founded Umbo. They grow functional mushrooms and sell some to popular Colorado restaurants, while putting others into products like granola bars and supplements.
“I found a lot of healing through mushrooms, a lot of healing of old pains, old traumas," said Plummer. “As athletes, we were able to defy the odds. I defied the odds to become a quarterback in the NFL and start for 10 years. So, who's to say I can't flip the script on all my old injuries and stop aging really?”
Umbo grows a variety of functional mushrooms, ranging from Lion's Mane to Cordyceps. Both Plummer and Jolly said there are several studies showing a variety of health benefits related to the fungi.
They said Cordyceps benefit the cardiovascular system, while Turkey Tail mushrooms can help gut health and immune systems in breast cancer patients following chemotherapy. Plus, the two said Lion's Mane mushrooms are being studied for their impact on Alzheimer's and dementia.
“It's just a food group that we're missing in my humble opinion," Jolly said. “We're working with various functional mushrooms to reintroduce the kingdom of fungi into people's diets.”
Jolly said many people confuse functional mushrooms with psychedelic mushrooms.
“We believe in the power of all mushrooms, but they are 100% illegal at this time," said Jolly about psychedelic mushrooms. “Umbo believes in those potentials. But currently, we also believe that functional mushrooms have as much, if not more, to help humanity.”
Umbo was founded as one way to fund Jolly's psychedelic research nonprofit called Unlimited Sciences. Unlimited Sciences has been working with Johns Hopkins University over the past three years, studying how people use psilocybin. The data will start being analyzed soon, but it will take some time to publish.
“One of the stats that I find most fascinating is the average age of the 7,000 plus people who went through our study is 39. That just tells me that this isn't, you know, a bunch of kids just using mushrooms to have fun. It's responsible adults who are, again, trying to take their health back into their own hands," said Jolly.
Both Jolly and Plummer believe in the power of functional mushrooms. Plummer feels he has seen the health benefits in his own life.
“It's really given me a chance to see what my true purpose on this earth is. It wasn't to throw touchdowns at Mile High Stadium, it's to help other people find that there's a better way," Plummer said. "There may be a better way to approach your health and wellness."