Community Mushroom Educator Training Program

Cultures around the world have long valued mushrooms as a vital source of nutrition and healing for centuries. Both a food and a medicine, mushrooms are easy to grow at home and on gardens and farms, with minimal startup costs and materials that many may already have on hand.

For contemporary farmers and gardeners in both urban and rural settings, mushrooms can be much more than an emerging and lucrative niche crop; they offer communities opportunities to address issues of unequal access to land, infrastructure, and capital, which are all identified barriers to equity and justice in community food production.

With support from USDA-SARE and USDA-AFRI, Cornell Cooperative Extension and the Cornell Small Farms Program is partnering with Just Food, Farm School NYC, and Grow NYC to offer a two-year Community Mushroom Educator (CME) Training that aims to build a cohort of 60 educators from urban and rural centers throughout the Northeast.  Join our network to learn how to grow and sell mushrooms and teach these skills in the community you serve.

Through technical training and project-based learning grounded in Popular Education methodology and principles, CMEs will gain valuable knowledge and benefit from the collective experience of the mushroom educator cohort. Watch the short video at left to meet our team and learn more about this program.

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Northeast Sustainable Agriculture, Research, and Education


This material is based upon work supported by the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Northeast Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education program under sub award number ENE19-156-33243.

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Presented on Tuesday, January 28th


We seek a diverse group of educators including, but not limited to those:

  • Living and growing in both rural and urban locations who are committed to community-based teaching


  • Engaged with a community organization, farm, or garden that could help promote mushroom production


  • Living in Connecticut, Delaware, Massachusetts, Maryland, Maine, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, West Virginia, and Washington, D.C.


  • Speak multiple languages and can potentially offer bi-lingual trainings, especially in Spanish.


  • Working for farming non-profits supporting women, refugee, and people of color in agriculture


  • Extension educators, government employees, and university-affiliated educators supporting farmers in a range of ways


  • Enthusiastic about growing mushrooms, even if new to the idea
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During Year 1 (2020), selected applicants will

1. Complete an 8-week online training

2. Attend one of three hands-on workshops in New York City, Albany, or Philadelphia

3. Engage in action-planning after the workshop.

Trainees will receive a full curriculum, workshop templates, and budget-planning tools for teaching community mushroom classes.


In Year 2 (2021), 16 educators from the 2020 cohort will be selected to receive personal coaching from the project team and financial resources ($400 - 500) to implement a community mushroom training effort, such as building a demonstration site, offering a workshop series, or starting a community-based mushroom farm.

Please note: You do not need to be a current mushroom grower or have any experience to apply. You do need to have a community organization you are accountable to, just the desire to advance your knowledge of mushroom cultivation in order to educate others.


What will I learn? 

Participants will receive a complete curriculum for specialty mushroom production, along with a teacher’s manual to facilitate the transfer of aspects of successful production. Our approach draws upon and demonstrates many ways to engage adult learners, including individual study, group discussion, live and webinar workshop sessions, and one-on-one support.  These strategies are crafted to draw out the wisdom and experience of the learners.

We use Popular Education approaches, where learning events are built upon the participant needs and solutions or strategies reflect the particular context that participants face to solve issues on the community level.

Through a combination of online coursework and a two-day training participants will gain knowledge in the following four areas:

  1. Mycology 101: What are Mushrooms?
  2. How to Grow: Cultivation Best Practices for Outdoor and Indoor systems
  3. How to Sell: Production Economics
  4. Teaching Using Popular Education


What are the requirements? 

To enroll and complete the program:

  1. Application completed by Monday February 17th, along with an identified community organization you are accountable to, whether you work there or are involved with moving the mission forward.
  2. If accepted, payment for your participation (see below for tiered scale)

In 2020:

  1. Attendance at the introductory online course March 23rd - May 11th with about 2 - 3 hours of time each week
  2. Attendance and participation at one of the three in-person trainings, which will be two days (dates below)
  3. Implement an “action plan” post training that includes 2 actions you take in your community (workshop or demonstration, farmer support, ets), and sharing back successes to the larger cohort.

Note: Anyone who completes the above steps will receive a certification of completion as a Community Mushroom Educator and remain part of our educator network. 

In 2021:

  1. (OPTIONAL) A limited group of 16 participants will be invited to engage with their communities in 2021 with ongoing support from the project team.


What is the schedule?

January 10th: Applications open

January 28th: Informational Webinar

February 17th: Application deadline

March 13th: Notification of Acceptance


Online Course:   

March 23rd - May 11th: 8 week online course begins.  This will include group discussions and sharing of best practices drawn from all of our community-based work.


Hands-on workshops (dates tentative - dates and locations will be confirmed in early 2020)

June 13 & 14 - Training (NYC)

July 18 & 19 - Training (Philadelphia)

Aug 28 & 29 - Training (Albany area)


Jun - Sept: Action planning activities in groups and via online meetings

October 2020 - Project Evaluation

November 2020: Applications for Action Projects Open

Jan through Dec 2021: Project planning and implementation with personal and financial support from project team.



This project is utilizing tiered pricing based on the annual budget of the organization that you work for or are accountable to. We will not turn away participants due to lack of funds, please contact us via email below to discuss.


I work PT/FT for this organization I am accountable to this organization
Annual Org Budget over $500,000 $100 $80
Annual Org Budget over $250,000 $80 $60
Annual Org Budget over $100,000 $60 $40
Annual Org Budget under $100,000 $40 $20

To Apply:

Please be sure to read this entire page, view the videos, and contact us with any questions before you apply.

Questions can be emailed to:

Steve Gabriel,

Yolanda Gonzalez,



This material is based upon work supported by the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Northeast Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education program under sub award number ENE19-156-33243.