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Small Scale Urban Agriculture with Mushrooms

The taste for mushrooms continues to grow as American appetites are expanded with global food choices in restaurants and the grocery store.

Growing mushrooms can be a sustainable small scale or urban agricultural revenue opportunity. Mushrooms provide culinary, nutritional, and health benefits. And some species of mushrooms also show potential for natural waste management and toxic material cleanup.

Fungi -- the family that mushrooms belong to -- have life cycles very different from those of green plants. Learning to grow mushrooms takes different knowledge, skills and practices than a gardener or produce farmer has developed.

The choice of mushroom species to raise depends both on the growth media available in your local area at reasonable prices and on market considerations.

  • Oyster mushrooms, which grow on many substrates, are easiest for a beginner.

  • Shiitake mushrooms already have earned considerable consumer demand.

  • Only two mycorrhizal mushrooms, morels and truffles, have been commercially cultivated.

Mushroom cultivation offers benefits to market gardens when this fungi production system is integrated into an existing growing, production and distribution system.

A careful analysis of potential markets is a wise first step in deciding whether to raise mushrooms to sell, and which species are best for your location, space, and local conditions.

Mushroom Cultivation and Marketing
Horticulture Production Guide

This online publication can get you started doing the research and testing of a mushroom farming project. Written by NCAT Agriculture Specialists, the publication provides growing tips, how mushrooms fit into permaculture design, how to choose a mushroom species, pest management, marketing suggestions, and a lot of great references.

Local food production is a growing issue for a more sustainable world -- and local food security. If you have ever wanted to produce some of your own food, or wanted to produce food for your family and friends, this might be a good time ...and mushrooms could be a good food to consider growing.

"Mushroom Cultivation and Marketing"
National Sustainable Agriculture Information Service

Also see our article on growing Morel mushrooms.