Cooperative Mushroom Fruiting Facility

Organization: North Carolina Coalition of Farms and Rural Families
Project Coordinator: Geneva Pickett
Location: Rose Hill, Duplin County, NC
Geneva Pickett, project coordinator, NC Coalition for Farms and Rural Families, established in 1987 primarily working in eastern NC. Partnering with Twin Rivers Farmer Cooperative comprised of approximately 50 farmer members. The project trains and equips 10 farmers with the ability to grow mushrooms indoors with a fruiting house designed by farmers. With support from NC A & T. The coalition originally designed and built a fruiting house that cost twice as much and failed to properly cultivate mushrooms. The farmers learned from the design flaws and have re-designed the structure at half the cost of the original prototype. The TCRF grant will help this group construct the new structure from the newer design and train farmers on how to properly cultivate exotic mushrooms indoors. The hope is that farmers will be trained on the structure that is built by the NCCFRF and Twin Rivers partnership and then taken and built on a smaller scale on their own farms. The design is relatively simple and accessible to most farmers as it is a modified metal building that is insulated and climate controlled to provide adequate humidity, temperature, and gas exchange to optimize the fruiting of mushrooms.

Pickett estimates that 36 weeks of production at $1,000 per week will result in a total revenue of $36,000. The farmers who participate in the training and installation will receive 20% of this total revenue. Mushroom cultivation, indoors and outdoors, is new to most of the farmers participating in the project. It will be a new endeavor for the eastern NC farmers and they are excited to learn about learning to cultivate mushrooms as a way to transition out of tobacco farming.

The year-round mushroom production will allow farmers to keep steady cash flow in the off season. As a high value crop, indoor cultivated mushrooms will provide a decent income for farmers during the slower, colder months. The mushrooms also turn crop waste into organic fertilizer.

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