Organization: North Carolina Coalition of Farms and Rural Families
Project Coordinator: Geneva Pickett
Location: Rose Hill, Duplin County, NC
The NC Coalition for Farms and Rural Families planned to train and equip 10 farmers with the ability to grow mushrooms indoors with a newly designed mushroom fruiting house through project funded by the Agricultural Reinvestment Fund in 2011. A local farmer, Geneva Pickett, served as the project coordinator for the initiative.
With support from NC A&T University, the group had originally designed and built a fruiting house that failed to properly cultivate mushrooms (and cost twice as much as their ultimate design). The farmers learned from the design flaws and re-designed the structure. They received a grant to construct the new structure and train on how to properly cultivate exotic mushrooms indoors.
The hope is that farmers will be trained using the new structure and that they will be able to apply the lessons learned 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.
Geneva estimates that 36 weeks of production at $1,000 per week would result in a total revenue of $36,000. The farmers who participate in the training and installation receive 20% of this total revenue. Mushroom cultivation, indoors and outdoors, was new to most of the farmers participating in the project.
As a high value crop, mushrooms provide income for farmers during the colder months. Many of the farmers in the group are excited to learn about cultivating mushrooms as a way to transition out of tobacco farming. The year-round mushroom production should allow these farmers to generate significant income in the off-season.
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