Beth Gayden is a shiitake and oyster producer. Her mushrooms are “forest farmed” (grown on logs), and she typically sells to consumers within a 60-mile radius of her farm. She is expanding and diversifying her operation by constructing a spawning lab and obtaining sterilization equipment. These improvements will allow her to create her own mushroom inoculant and allow her to sterilize her growing medium. With grant funds from the Agricultural Reinvestment Fund, she purchased the construction materials as well as the sterilization equipment to get the project off the ground.
Beth recently hosted a group of students from the NCSU Farm School to demonstrate her mushroom operation. She has consulted with another 2016 grant recipient of the program, Ches Stewart, on mushroom production and plans to build her facilities using shipping containers as he has done. Beth is using the shipping container to house the operations of the mushroom production. In addition to the containers, she also plants other exotic mushrooms such as Winecaps on her farm in beds of mulch. The mushroom spawn is spread throughout the garden beds in a heavy mulch and horticultural crops are planted in the same beds. This system is intended to create multi-purpose garden beds where she can harvest her mushrooms as well as other vegetable and herb crops. She also hired a part-time farm manager and a sales associate as a result of her expansion. Beth currently sells to markets in Wake and Franklin counties. She hopes that the improvements to her facility will allow her to expand her direct marketing efforts in the Triangle.