Mushroom Farming Research and Education to Bring Greater Equity and Diversity to the Food System

Project Overview

Project Type: Farmer/Rancher
Funds awarded in 2021: $25,000.00
Projected End Date: 04/01/2022
Host Institution Award ID: G312-21-W8613
Grant Recipient: Zoom Out Mycology
Region: Western
State: Oregon
Principal Investigator:
Bashira Muhammad
Zoom Out Mycology LLC


  • Miscellaneous: mushrooms


  • Education and Training: on-farm/ranch research
  • Farm Business Management: new enterprise development
  • Sustainable Communities: local and regional food systems

    Proposal summary:

    Many aspiring farmers are unable to afford the capital costs of land, infrastructure, and equipment needed to start an agricultural operation. Mushrooms represent a high-dollar, specialty product that require low inputs and minimal equipment and infrastructure, if grown outside. Arid climates in much of the West make outdoor mushroom cultivation challenging. However, reishi mushrooms, which require burying for cultivation, minimizes the need for irrigation and atmospheric humidity. This project will educate farmers about outdoor mushroom cultivation during four on-farm workshops and demonstrations, presentations at two Oregon State University Extension programs, three presentations at regional and national mushroom conferences, weekly updates on two well-established social media platforms, and the formation of a regional mushroom producers listserve. The project will also research the best substrates for reishi mushroom cultivation, measuring yields and irrigation requirements in trials of three side-by-side substrates: sawdust, compost and topsoil. While the cost of these substrates are minimal, research will include the development of enterprise budgets that compare costs of the three substrates and the minimal infrastructure needed. Results of the research will be disseminated during presentations at three regional and national conferences, at the four on-farm mushroom workshops, on two social media platforms, and through an Oregon State University publication.

    Project objectives from proposal:

    Educational Objectives:

    Objective 1: Provide education and training for at least 100 participants in basic mushroom cultivation at four on-farm workshops.


    Objective 2: Engage at least 65 participants in presentations at the Southern Oregon Research and Extension Center about mushroom cultivation at 2 Extension events.


    Objective 3: Present findings from reishi substrate trials at three national and regional conferences with a total audience of at least 120.


    Objective 4: Engage at least 80 mushroom producers in a listserve.


    Objective 5: Have at least 6000 followers on two social media platforms by the end of the project.


    Objective 6: Produce a technical paper with results of reishi substrate research with at least 3,000 downloads by the end of 2022.



    Research Objectives:

    Objective 1: Determine which of three substrates (compost, sawdust, and topsoil) results in the highest yields of reishi mushrooms.


    Objective 2:  Create enterprise budgets for each of the substrates to determine which substrate is most profitable in mushroom cultivation.


    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.