This page offers resources for policy-related issues for mushroom growers. Questions may be directed to firstname.lastname@example.org
One of the perks of log-grown shiitake is how easy they are to dry outdoors in the sun. Home consumers have long used the simple drying method of placing fresh mushrooms on screens in the sun for 4 – 8 hours.
Recent research from Penn State and Paul Stamets has also discovered some compelling arguments that exposure of fresh mushrooms to sunlight converts enzymes to enhance both Vitamin D2 and D3 content in mushrooms. This is a boost to the nutritional value of the mushrooms, and also potentially improves their marketability for farmers.
Beelman, R. & M. Kalaras. “Post-harvest Vitamin D Enrichment of Fresh Mushrooms.” HAL Project# MU07018 (April 30, 2009), Penn State University.
Stamets, Paul. ” Place Mushrooms in Sunlight to Get Your Vitamin D” Web. 07/02/2012 < http://www.huffingtonpost.com/paul-stamets/mushrooms-vitamin-d_b_1635941.html>.
Since dried mushrooms are a desired product for farmers, we are seeking to develop a protocol for the safe and sanitary practice of solar drying shiitake mushrooms, along with use of a common food dehydrator since environmental conditions don’t always allow them to be dried with only the sun. Currently, most states in the northeast require a certified kitchen and/or food processing license.
In New York, we are working with the Farm Bureau to attempt to amend Section 276.3 of the New York State Agriculture and Markets regulations to include “farm-grown dried mushrooms” as an eligible home processed food.
Forest mushroom cultivation has recently been growing in popularity in these regions, due to the abundance of forest resources and the relative low-cost of startup operations.
Growers interested in cultivation have sometimes found one major hurdle; insurance companies would deny or drop coverage upon learning the farm was planning on mushroom cultivation, mostly over fears of the liability incurred with wrongful identification of a mushroom species or with the sanitary conditions associated with cultivation.
A new development between Small Farms, New York Farm Bureau, and Nationwide Insurance has confirmed that insurance policies are available immediately to outdoor, forest mushroom farmers in temperate regions of the United States.
Forest products other than timber and firewood are on the rise, as farmers and landowners seek alternative income opportunities from wooded lands in the Northeast. As these new products and markets emerge, it is become critical to consider how to support economic growth and development while protecting our future forests from threats of invasive and exotic species that may threaten future health and productivity objectives. Currently, many of these products would be considered “firewood,” and, depending on the state, are subject to restrictions for transport.
It should be noted that most landowners and farmers procure logs from their own woods or close-by. However, there is growing interest in selling logs suitable for mushroom cultivation, as well as pre-inoculated logs, possibly for longer distances (and even in some cases, across state lines). This desire can conflict with state regulations.
In the various markets where forest grown shiitake mushrooms are sold (farm stands, restaurants, farmers markets, etc.) consumers pay a considerable premium for forest grown mushrooms compared to the same species of mushrooms grown indoors on sawdust and sold primarily in grocery stores.
Along with initiatives to convince more consumers that forest-grown mushrooms are superior and the price differential is justified, consumers need a way to distinguish forest grown from sawdust grown mushrooms.
Additionally, there has been an expressed need for some clear standards of practice and “quality control” such as grading standards for mushrooms.
In 2015, Small Farms Staff worked alongside a team of advisors to develop standards for the “Certified Naturally Grown” Label. READ MORE HERE