Do-It-Yourself Mushrooms, a feature in this morning’s Home and Garden section of the New York Times, chronicles the growing interest in home-scale mushroom production. The article quotes Ken Mudge on the prospect of commercial-scale production:
For five years, Ken Mudge, an associate professor of horticulture at Cornell University, has been leading an annual mushroom cultivation weekend at the university’s Arnot Teaching and Research Forest. He calls it Camp Mushroom.
Mr. Mudge believes that mushrooms are an ideal market crop for Northeast farmers, and others who own small and neglected forest lots. Fresh shiitakes fetch around $16 a pound at a farmers’ market, he said.
Those delicacies represent a bargain, he argued, compared with month-old grocery store slop. “I would describe that stuff as looking like shoe leather,” he said.
This year’s Camp Mushroom, which takes place on Friday and Saturday, filled up fast, as usual, Mr. Mudge said. But he has plans to add three more seminars to meet the growing demand.
Mudge is also teaming up with the University of Vermont are embarking on a 3-year, SARE-funded project for farmers and other forest owners who are interested in growing shiitake mushrooms as a money-making enterprise. Together with experienced shiitake growers from New York, New Hampshire and Vermont, the collaborators are developing a program that will help aspiring growers to not only learn how to grow shiitake mushrooms from A to Z, but also help them decide if they want to get into Shiitake farming on a commercial scale. Read more about the project.