How to start your own mushroom farm and scale it as a business.
Now more than at any point in this century it is the perfect time to start small scale, high yield, local farms. These are the kinds of small but efficient operations that despite their small size can bring in an exceptional income either on a part-time seasonal basis, or yield great results year round.
On the growing side, the key is mastering the skills of farming using efficient and effective methods of growing. One amazing field is growing mushrooms. Once you understand the steps required growing your own mushrooms, then also scaling and growing to resale locally can be a great investment and option for people who want to farm but do not have much land at all available. Most of the highest yielding mushroom farms are actually indoors, and some are even in urban areas.
Take a look at this!
If we look at a popular kind of mushroom, like Oyster Mushrooms (which as mushrooms go are easy to grow) you will find that you can typically grow about 25 pounds per square foot in a 12 month period. If you had a 10X10 space (which is not even a small space room or part of a basement in most homes), you find you could easily grow $30K yes $30,000 of mushrooms in that 10X10 space. Also once you have the basic supplies and set up it is affordable to grow mushrooms on this scale and in this size operation.
What if you were to start with a 10X10 and grow to a 20X100 in total space in say 5 years time?
Sure as you scale your costs would go up some, but you also would be able to sell 20X as many mushrooms. Also, you would likely expand into other varieties which bring in more profit per square foot. Stop and do that math $30,000 X20 =$600,000.
So how much effort does it take to set up a 10X10 and get things started?
To share that with you let’s look at the entire process.
We will break down setting up your starter farm in a 10X10 grow space with a 10X10 space for supplies, equipment set up, and a small workbench.
The 5 Steps To set up
1. Prepare your work area and a grow rack.
For a simple grow rack you can make one out of scrap lumber or you can purchase a nice shelving unit like this one.
You will also need a pressure canner for sterilizing your substrate, and a small workbench of some kind to work on, just to make life easy. Getting started I also would recommend using some 3 mil plastic sheets around your grow area to prevent dust and containment from invading your growing space. Then you want some of your good old friend duck tape.
2. Order your spawn and substrate.
For the best substrate in the World use hardwood pellets that are naturally sourced from whole logs. You can find some basic growing instructions on our site here at this link. Follow those instructions to prepare your substrate then inoculate your substrate. There are many online suppliers of spawn just do a simple Google search. For your substrate, you can order the best in the World right here.
3. While your mushrooms go through the colonization stage explained in how to grow directions.
You have several weeks to reach out to local places you can share samples of your first successful batch.
You should also set up some very basic marketing for your future business at this stage. If money is tight start with a Free Blog, Facebook Fan Page, and get some low-cost full-color business cards made. Do not do a big order just 250 for around $20 shipped to your door will do. You can use Vistaprint or GotPrint on the web for these small orders.
Share your new hobby/home business with friends and family. Ask them to like your fan page, and blog.
Now it is time to go out to dinner. For your meals out you want to go (business cards in pocket) to trendy restaurants in your area. Have a nice meal and talk with a manager or if it is a small location the cook or the owner. Say how much you enjoyed your meal and ask if they might be interested in fresh mushrooms locally grown. Offer to bring them fresh samples for free to try when your current batch is ready next month. If they are interested give them a business card and let them know you look forward to seeing them in a month or so.
Next meal out the same thing. Think of these few meals out as an investment. Enjoy yourself but stay professional, and with your mind on the prize (just in the back of your head).
During this time you also want to find out about any nearby farmers markets. You want to see what it takes to set up a table or get a small stall at the farmers market. If that is not possible make friends with the owner of a local farmers market and let them know you would love to bring them some free samples of your mushrooms if they might be interested in selling them at their market.
So local restaurants and local farmers markets can be your first two locations to sell your mushrooms. If you are just starting out and doing 4 bags a week (on the weekend) as batches you are only looking at a few pounds of mushrooms each week once you start rolling. Then scale up to 10-12 pounds or more as you grow your batches larger and closer together. Also, your yield increases as you master the growing techniques.
4. After the colonization phase, you come to the fruiting phase of the growth cycle.
This is where the mushroom caps and stems start to show and grow out of your air holes in your bag.
As with the colonization phase you want to keep a close eye on the temperature, light, and air flow to your mushrooms. Check them regularly for signs of good health, and growth, and make changes to your growing room as needed.
Once the first batch is ready to harvest it is time to harvest and package your fresh mushrooms, then get them right into the hands of your potential customers as a sample. If your first batch is not perfect you should have a second batch just 1 week behind and you can hold off sharing the first batch as samples.
You can also practice drying the mushrooms that do not turn out the best, since there is a market for dried mushrooms as well, and they will keep for a very long time dried when stored properly.
5. The fifth step if you are happy with your initial results is to grow and scale your operation.
This often means setting up a basic website, ranking it for SEO in Google, and adding more social media channels.
It also means you need to find more markets for your mushrooms. So not it is time to think about your packaging method. One low-cost process is to bag the mushrooms then add a simple label to the bag that you have made as a sticker. There are a ton of suppliers online to print stickers of high quality to use for your bags. Here is one source as an example https://www.uprinting.com/vinyl-sticker-printing.html here you can get 1,000 stickers as labels for $50 so that is a small investment to look professional.
Now, this guide is just a basic business outline or an introduction. If you want to take an online course or a workshop our friends at FungiAlly.com offer a complete course at an affordable price.
Want more free information?
Get the book from our friends at FungiAlly.com.
Here is an interesting video on one grower’s thoughts on pricing mushrooms. It is worth a view and can provide more information for you and you start on your journey.