Community Mushroom Educator Network

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. Many communities lack the knowledge of how to get started and build successful growing operations.

With support from USDA-SARE and USDA-AFRI, Cornell Cooperative Extension and the Cornell Small Farms Program is partnering with Farm School NYC to offer a Community Mushroom Educator (CME) Training that aims to build a cohort of educators from urban and rural centers throughout the Northeast. The goal of this effort is to increase both the number and diversity of mushroom educators in the region, so that everyone can access the knowledge and build skills in mushroom growing.

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In 2020, we engaged with a dynamic group of educators from around the Northeast region and shared our developed curriculum for an introductory series of workshops that trainees can use to educate their communities in the cultivation, harvest, and distribution of mushrooms. Our educators come from diverse communities and over the course of the spring and summer we met online to learn cultivation techniques and discuss how we can effectively teach skills in our communities.

Thirty-five of these educators are continuing on in the coming year as a network to help each other develop skills and continue to learn as we reach out and educate others about the wonders of mushrooms.

In early 2021 we will be posting the full curriculum and set of activities here, as well as profiles of our educators who are available as mushrooms educators for a range of needs.

The next training for new Community Mushroom Educators will commence in late Summer of 2021, with applications open in the summer. Scroll down to the bottom of the page for more information on how to get involved!

We are a diverse group of educators including those who:

  • Live and grow in both rural and urban locations who are committed to community-based teaching
  • Engage with community organizations, farm, and community gardens
  • Speak multiple languages and can potentially offer bi-lingual trainings, especially in Spanish.
  • Work for farming non-profits supporting women, refugee, and people of color in agriculture
  • Are enthusiastic about growing mushrooms, and excited to share with others!
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What do CMEs learn? How do I get involved?

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 and Share the Harvest: Production Economics
  4. Teaching Using Popular Education

 

To enroll and complete the program:

  1. Application, 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)

To participate:

  1. Attendance at the introductory online course
  2. 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. 

 

COST

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:

We are currently working with out 2020 cohort of educators and NOT taking new applications at this time. Check back to this page for updates when the next applications open in 2021. You can also join the grower listerv to receive announcements by filling out the form here.

 

Questions can be emailed to:

Steve Gabriel, sfg53@cornell.edu

Yolanda Gonzalez, yg88@cornell.edu

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.