[Market-farming] Mushroom Farming

Richard Moyer ramoyer at gmail.com
Mon Dec 24 20:24:11 EST 2012


Wyatt,
Good you are asking questions and thinking about mushrooms at length.
We've been eating mushrooms for years, then added to our foraging with log
cultivation 7 years ago.
Just reviewed our market sales for the year.  Confirmed that we need more
mushrooms for customer demand.  We always sell out what we bring.  And
often, the mushrooms make up 1/4-1/3 of our fresh food sales.  Not in table
space, but in total sales.  For the time spent in harvest and packing for
market, at $10-15/#, may be our most profitable fresh crop.  And any of my
six children can harvest them, while I'm picking salad mix, edible flowers,
etc.  Oysters easily keep a week, esp. the cool weather strains.  And
shiitakes keep longer if you store them well.

Last Sat, last market of the year, I harvested a cool weather strain of
oysters, through several inches of snow.  We have Zone 6 winters here in SW
VA, and I grow cool season strains of both shiitakes and oysters, to have
mushrooms to fill out my offerings in spring and fall.  And we've harvested
through the winter, esp since last one was so mild.

They dry easily, and we get the same money fresh or dried, as most of our
customers know how to use them dried.

For my time and money (and I ran a college micro lab for yrs), it makes
sense to buy >5 lbs of spawn for $22-23 several times a year.  I easily
recover that cost the first time they fruit.

At my market, mushrooms sell themselves.  I try to use contrasting display.
 (Bright yellow oysters on a black background were a hit this summer.)   As
with many foods, customers want to meet the person who grows it.  Mushrooms
are a food adventure for they can and do kill.  So we regularly eat
mushrooms we take to  market, and a smiling kid at my booth is witness to
their safety.

As for competition, and to identify market opportunities, I'd talk with
market managers and chefs, to identify demand.  The chefs I work with
appreciate fresh mushrooms, as what they ship in often arrive poorly.
 Don't set your price with a chef on mushrooms until they see what you can
deliver, compared to the price and quality they now have available.  You
don't know their cull rate.  But don't base the enterprise on 1-2
enthusiastic chefs, for they might be gone before your first harvest.

Just filled out the paperwork for Certified Organic mushrooms, during our
inspection last week.  I need to go there because more vendors at my market
are seeing the unmet mushroom demand.  Some of my customers would never buy
a mushroom, but some of them would never buy my squash blossoms, favas or
bok choi either.  I want my market to meet ever more of various customer
demands.  I want we vendors to hear more and more "We didn't realize those
were here, too!"

I like oysters because they are so robust, and because many customers have
foraged their own, or know others who do.  I'd be careful over-relying on
less familiar ones, until you've built a customer base.  Then they can
trust you to try new species.  Samples are important to expand the customer
base, and mushrooms are easily cooked at market.  Though I've never had the
need because at my level of production, they sell out.

We don't soak logs because I don't have contracts for delivery.  Also, I'd
rather rely on natural rains, and allow my market customers to share in
that seasonal cycle.

As for advice, all the mushroom spawn suppliers I've dealt with have the
best customer service of any hort/ag supplier.  Mushrooms folks are
passionate.  There are teachers out there to meet you however you learn
best.

Feel free to contact me offline with more Qs.
Richard
Fresh 'Melissa' savoy cabbage for slaw tonight.  Came through 15F very
well, with single layer row cover.

Date: Mon, 24 Dec 2012 14:50:38 -0500
From: "Wyatt Jones \(netzero\)" <wyatt_jones at netzero.com>
Subject: [Market-farming] Mushroom farming
To: <market-farming at lists.ibiblio.org>
Message-ID: <09D3FAD732FD4B6EA7B716B9D81B48A2 at WJONESXP>
Content-Type: text/plain; charset="windows-1252"

I've been thinking about growing mushrooms, I have most of the equipment
from brewing and culturing beer yeast and bacteria and have a small
building I can turn into a clean room/lab, though I'd have to invest in a
laminar flow hood, though I'm thinking about building one actually.  I'm
not sure about marketability and profitability though, probably have to
peddle them up in Columbus where it seems to be more affluent.  I do have
some woods and I've been thinking about doing some growing outside and some
indoors to get a more even crop over the year.  You can buy spawn but it
seems to me to be more economical to culture it yourself and I do have some
experience with that and can produce a lot of wood chips and can get grain
suitable for cultivation.  If it starts to pan out I'll grow my own grain
for the purpose.  Some people are cultivating morels but that seems to be a
trickier proposition than most the other mushrooms, you can culture the
mycelium pretty easy and it grows
 fast but he mycelium strands are also more delicate in transfers to new
medium.  I did see some at Kroger's over in Kettering but their stock seems
to be somewhat variable and I notice they don't carry as much as they used
to.  Still I don't think button or oyster mushrooms are a good bet, not
much profit in buttons and oysters are too perishable, though I'd probably
do some of them (oysters) anyway for variety since its easy to grow them,
even outdoors. I was thinking more along the lines of shitakes lions manes,
maitake, chicken of the woods, maybe reishi, turkey tails, Nameko's,
pioppino's etc.  Anyway just checking to see if anybody has any experience
with the viability of doing this as a business, or side business.  I
imagine doing it in someplace like California or the east coast might make
it easier to market, Ohio might be a different story.

Wyatt
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