Over the course of this project, all major milestones and performance targets have been achieved, although milestones were not in all cases accomplished precisely as envisioned or in the temporal sequence specified in the original proposal. As regards performance targets, well over 148 prospective shiitake farmers were trained in the basics (beginner level workshops) of forest cultivation of shiitake mushrooms in 2010, and additional beginner workshops have been conducted each additional year (PT 1). Advanced level workshops emphasizing enterprise development, forest management and site selection and an on-farm site visit to one of the commercial production operations owned by the 3 farm advisors were attended by 105 farmers (PT1)
Three experienced growers acted as farmer advisors in terms of training and mentoring prospective (beginner) shiitake farmers throughout the study. Farmer advisors were also engaged in on farm research regarding timing of shocking (mushroom induction) (Rockcastle), tree species effect on consumer preference (taste) (Sierigk) and tree species effects on yield of muchrooms (Laskovski) (PT2).
Fifty-five farmers who attended both workshops developed 5 year enterprise plans for implementing commercial shiitake production on their own farms (PT 4). Enterprise plans were effectively applications to participate in the implementation phase of the project, i.e. inoculation of 100 logs that produced mushrooms that were harvested and sold at local markets)
Based on our review of these enterprise plans twenty-seven prospective shiitake farmers were selected for implementation which included inoculating of 100 logs as described above. Only 23 of these actually followed through on log inoculation. Eighteen of these successful produced and sold shiitake mushrooms, and of these 15 reported data regarding expenses and income derived from mushroom sales. Ten of these 15 reported net profit after expenses.
In conjunction with achieving these performance targets, several publications were developed which have already been proven to be useful to forest owners and othes interested in adopting shiitake farming. The most useful one which could be described as the crowning achievement of this project is a 55 page manual, “Best Management Practices for Log-based Shiitake Production in the Northeastern United States,” below.
The overall objective of this project was to train and mentor prospective shiitake farmers to the point where they could successfully implement profitable small scale shiitake production, and to document that process, resulting in the development of a production guide focusing on the Northeastern US.
Performance Targets include:
1) 80 farmers participate in training workshops (actual: 148)
2) 3 experienced growers (Farmer Advisors) will conduct on farm research on shiitake production
3) 60 farmers will participate in on farm site visits to commercially successful shiitake farms. (actual: 105)
4) 40 farmers will develop 5 year enterprise plans (actual:54)
5) 20 farmers will inoculate 100 logs, producing 100 pounds of mushrooms. (actual:18 prodced and sold mushrooms, but only half produced at least 100 pounds from 100 logs)