Specialty Mushroom Cultivation in the Northeast United States
"This material is based upon work supported by the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, U.S. Department of Agriculture, through the Northeast Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education program under subaward number LNE19-376.”
This series of booklets is intended to support any farmer, student, educator,organizer, entrepreneur or homesteader who is interested in taking specialty
mushroom cultivation to the community level. This first booklet provides an introduction to mushrooms, mycology, and the specialty mushroom industry.
We also discuss the ways mushrooms offer solutions to a wide range of community challenges in both rural and urban locations. Book Two provides a detailed overview of common cultivation methods, and the third book discusses the parameters for fruiting, harvest, and sales.
While the overall intention of these guides is to support cultivators to get started or improve a commercial operation, the information and methods offered here also apply to anyone interested in mushroom production at many other scales. Mushrooms have so much to teach us beyond reusing waste streams and producing high quality food. They are also teachers of the connection all beings share, the importance of community, and the truth that nothing goes to waste. Yes, the specialty mushroom industry is rapidly growing, and there are huge business opportunities in working with fungi. This should not supercede the deeper truths fungi have to teach. Hopefully as this industry expands it can do so with the values of community and connection.
The best teachers for growing and working with fungi are the mushrooms themselves. A lot of learning how to cultivate mushrooms is trying to grow them, watching what happens, and then adjusting accordingly. As with any
farming venture, it is key to accept that you will have both successes and failures. Mushroom cultivation is a constant dance of observation and reaction, of science and art. Hopefully these booklets give you a beat to start that dance,to explore with curiosity who fungi are and how to ally with them in your life. There are several options for profitable mushroom production, as well as multiple entry points along the supply chain. Each method offers a different set of material, infrastructure, capital, and skill requirements. Depending on your
personal interests and goals, there are many possibilities for incorporating mushrooms into your life and business. As with any business, starting out by identifying your mission and goals is extremely important. It may turn out you don’t want a business at all, but want to work with fungi at a slow, exploratory, non-pressured pace. Or maybe you want to generate 100K in revenue from specialty mushrooms next year, and amazingly both are achievable. Work with fungi patiently and persistently, and you are bound to be successful.