Growing the Specialty Mushroom Industry in the Northeast

A Research and Education project funded by Northeast SARE.

In order to propel a new generation of specialty mushroom growers, this grant will compile data on specialty mushroom production. We will support a cohort of start-up growers to model a range of commercial operations in exchange for data on start-up costs, labor, and other key considerations. The comparative data from various scenarios will be compiled and form the basis of outreach materials and enterprise budgets. Booklets introducing the specialty mushroom industry, outlining three systems of cultivation, and grower profiles will be published in the fall of 2019.

This research will focus on three systems of cultivation:
Oyster mushroom cultivation on straw.
Specialty mushroom production on ready-to-fruit blocks indoors.
Specialty mushroom production on ready-to-fruit blocks outdoors.

Workshops and other free events

in November and December 2019 we will offer ten 2 hour workshops around the northeast on commercial cultivation. If you are interested in hosting a workshop please contact willie at

TO sign up for a workshop in Portland Maine on November 2nd at North Spore mushroom farm visit the MOFGA website here

In January and February of 2020 we will offer follow-up online sessions on commercial cultivation. The attendees of there workshops can apply for ongoing mentoring as they develop and implement a business plan. Ten growers will be accepted for intensive support from the project team in exchange for keeping track of labor and economic data while starting and operating their enterprise in the growing season of May 2020-Oct 2020. These growers will aim to grow and sell 30+ pounds of mushrooms per week through the growing season.

Growers will offer a range of scenarios that will be described in case studies and enterprise budgets, which will be published along with a finalized cultivation manual. All materials will be available indefinitely online here and through the SARE website.

Performance target: 300 farmers attend in person trainings. 100 attend the 3 week webinar series to learn methods of cultivating specialty mushrooms. 30 apply to receive assistance growing 30 pounds of mushrooms per week. 10  growers produce and sell 9,000 pounds over 30 weeks, generating $108,000.


Milestone 1: 1000 vegetable and beginning farmers in the Northeast learn about specialty mushroom cultivation as a viable farm enterprise through webinars, newsletters, and emails. April – August 2019.

Milestone 2: Initial training and record keeping materials are developed. April – August 2019

Milestone 3: 300 farmers attend trainings (30 participants at 10 events) facilitated by growers and educators in New York, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Vermont, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and Maine. Workshops cover cultivation techniques, business planning, and project performance target. October – January 2020.

Milestone 4: 100 farmers attend three 2-hour webinars providing in-depth training on specialty cultivation methods; fruiting room design and maintenance; and expected hours, expenses and income to produce 20-50 pounds of mushrooms a week. February 2020.

Milestone 5: 15 farmers submit a basic plan and budget for a system to produce 30 pounds of specialty
mushrooms per week for 30 weeks between April and December. March 2020.

Milestone 6: 10 Farmers produce 9,000 pounds of mushrooms generating $108,000 of added income and receive ongoing support with the project team by phone, email, and a group discussion board. Site visits are arranged with participating growers. Data on expenses, sales, and labor inputs is collected by growers and reviewed monthly by project team. April – December 2020.

Milestone 7: 10 participating farmers submit final production, yield and quality data. December 2020.

Milestone 8: Data is analyzed and informs an enterprise budget tool. Case studies of selected farms are written and published. Guidebook is finalized with data incorporated from the project and is published online and distributed to 5,000 people through Facebook, listservs, and newsletters. May 2021.

To join the project or get further details email

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