No Waste Mushroom Cultivation: Viability Comparison of Spent Grain and Coffee Grounds for Small-scale and Urban farmers

Project Overview

Project Type: Farmer/Rancher
Funds awarded in 2019: $5,445.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2021
Grant Recipient: Three Flock Farm
Region: North Central
State: Indiana
Project Coordinator:
Lauren E McCalister
Three Flock Farm

Information Products


  • Miscellaneous: mushrooms


  • Animal Production: free-range, grazing - rotational, heritage breeds, manure management, preventive practices
  • Crop Production: cover crops, crop improvement and selection, food processing, high tunnels or hoop houses, no-till, seed saving, shade cloth, silvopasture, water storage, windbreaks
  • Education and Training: farmer to farmer
  • Farm Business Management: cooperatives, farm-to-restaurant, farmers' markets/farm stands, farm succession, feasibility study, grant making, land access, whole farm planning
  • Soil Management: composting, earthworms, organic matter, soil analysis, soil quality/health
  • Sustainable Communities: ethnic differences/cultural and demographic change, public policy, values-based supply chains

    Proposal summary:

    Mushroom cultivation with coffee grounds and spent grain will create a circular economy for small-scale and urban farmers. In pursuit of a no-waste system of food production, mushroom cultivation also provides soil amendment opportunities with composting after harvesting. Mushroom compost can supply nutrients and increase the water holding capacity of the soil. In combination with other plant materials, mushroom compost can be a low-cost solution for soil improvement that meets the needs of the individual farmer. Cooperation between local farmers, brewers and coffee vendors will develop business to business relationships to create a robust economy with shared benefits. The utilization of safe and effective practices for sterilization on a small scale, a workshop to build and maintain vendor-farmer relationships along with data to reflect high yield procedures will ensure that the amateur urban farmers and small-scale farmers can be successful with mushroom cultivation. A decrease in the amount of trash accumulated in the dump and a reduction in trash fees for local businesses are a few of the advantages of mushroom cultivation with spent grain and coffee grounds. Start-up costs and reliable research are barriers to incorporating new growers into the community at large. 

    Project objectives from proposal:

    3 Flock Farm seeks to determine the highest yield method of mushrooms from spent grain or coffee grounds. IN addition, which varieties flourish from each by-product. Evaluation of sterilization processing will demonstrate the safest and effective practices for small-scale production. Create and maintain cooperation between farmers, brewers and coffee vendors to dramatically reduce the by-products being put in the trash. 3 Flock Farm will provide education and resources to bolster community organizations including Mother Hubbard cupboard food pantry, Bloomington orchard, and Bloomington Parks and Recreation garden plot programming. 

    Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.