Uncovering the Efficacy of Hemp Byproduct as a Mushroom Growing Medium: Nurturing Symbiosis Between Local Farmers

Project Overview

Project Type: Farmer/Rancher
Funds awarded in 2023: $25,000.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2024
Host Institution Award ID: G314-23-W9982
Grant Recipient: Mountain Forage
Region: Western
State: Oregon
Principal Investigator:
Rebecca Winters
Mountain Forage


  • Agronomic: hemp
  • Miscellaneous: mushrooms


  • Education and Training: farmer to farmer
  • Farm Business Management: cooperatives, value added

    Proposal summary:

    The substantial prevalence of hemp & recreational cannabis production in the Northwest region results in a large amount of underutilized agricultural byproduct (the stalk, or stem, of the plant) which has the potential to be a viable, economical, and sustainable resource in a separate (and similarly popular) industry: mushroom cultivation. Current popular mushroom substrates pose potential economic and/or agricultural downfalls. Although supplemented sawdust is generally the preferred fruiting substrate due to the wide variety of mushrooms that can grow on them, the sourcing of this material is rarely transparent. This can be an issue to mushroom farmers who care about the purity and sustainability of their product.

    Our proposed study aims to uncover the viability of hemp stalks as a substrate for growing two commonly sought after mushroom varieties (blue oyster and lion’s mane) and, if proven to be a good resource, close the gap between hemp and mushroom farmers in the PNW. The goal is increasing commerce and sustainability in local businesses and the community by establishing an online platform whereby farmers can connect and exchange byproducts, materials, and experiences/education.

    We believe that dried, ground hemp stalk, as a fruiting substrate material, will provide the same or better fruiting yield in pounds than hardwood sawdust (for blue oyster and lion's mane mushrooms) over the course of a 2 flush paradigm.

    Project objectives from proposal:

    Research objectives:

    • Determine first and second flush rates (yield by pound) of blue oyster and lion’s mane mushrooms across 2 substrates: sawdust and hemp stalks
    • Cost analysis between the two substrate in regards to output
    • Analysis of mycelial growth (faster growth = faster turnover for more bags in a season)
    • Analysis of accessibility in our region (stats and networking on hemp and mushroom farms) as well as traceability (how transparent is sourcing information)

            Education objectives:

    •  Video + Written Guide demonstrating process for utilizing hemp stalks as mushroom substrate
    • Create a phone app to connect small local farmers in order to make use of/profit from/or trade viable byproducts from their ongoing operations
    • Curate at least 1,000 followers across at least two social media platforms (Facebook, instagram, and/or youtube, etc.)
    • Host a 2-day educational symposium to bring together varied agricultural professionals, entrepreneurs, and other interested individuals. There will be 10-15 speakers and a minimum of 75 attendees per day
    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.