Cultivation of shiitake mushrooms as an agroforestry crop for New England
During 2013 project participants and leaders meet to discuss project results and begin coloration into the best management practices booklet.
Project leaders hosted a half-day workshop at the NOFA-NY Winter Conference which attracted over 80 conference attendees.
Data from the project was compiled into a booklet outlining best management practices for log-based shiitake cultivation in the northeastern United States.
The project nationwide attention when it was featured in over 100 newspapers throughout the country.
A shiitake mushroom training session was help April 12-13 at Cornell’s Arnot Forest, 40 people attended.
This project was originally funded as a 3 year project, but because of delays in the start date it has ended up covering 4 calender years. Specific project objectives/program targets covered 3 years, and so there were no specific objectives outlined for year four. None the less, the time was set aside to continue analysis of data collected from project participants (farmers) and complete the Booklet, entitled, “Best Management Practices for Log-Based Shiitake Cultivation in the Northeastern United States.” This manual is designed accomplish both Milestones 7 and 8 listed below: Milestone 7 – 20 Farmers harvest mushrooms from first 100 logs and sell at market. Production costs, yields, income and lessons learned are summarized into final report. Milestone 8 – Results are placed on website and shared by participants and researchers at winter workshops to be held at 3 locations. It will summarize the “production costs, yields, income and lessons learned” in a concise format that farmers can easily learn from. The manual will be available on a on a website and [will be] shared by participants and researchers. We opted to host only two rather than three winter workshops as originally planned. One was in Saratoga Springs, NY, in conjunction with the 2013 Annual NOFA conference, and the other was a hands on training workshope at Cornell’s Arnot Forest. By bringing together all the project participants throughout the region at the Saratoga Springs meeting, we were better able to discuss and compare shiitake production strategies, rather than holding separate regional workshops.
During the fourth and last year of the project, 20 project participants and members of the research team met to discuss results the “Cultivation of Shiitake Mushrooms as an Agroforestry Crop for New England” SARE Grant. In addition to reflecting on lessons learned, farmers and researchers discussed their experiences which are being compiled in a “Best Management Practices” handbook for shiitake growers. Project leaders and participants also hosted a half-day NOFA workshop at Saratoga Springs, NY entitled, “Forest Farming of Shiitake, Specialty Mushrooms, and More.” Over 50 conference attendees registered for the class and approximately 100 people attended the three hour long course. During the session, participants explored the basics of how to grow shiitake mushrooms including tree species selection, laying yard management, fruiting, value added opportunities, and marketing. Participants also had an opportunity to inoculate their own shiitake logs. A second workshop with the same objectives and curriculum was held April 12-13 at the Arnot Forest where 40 participants attended. During the remainder of the year, project leaders and participants collaborated to create a 55-page booklet entitled, “Best Management Practices for Log-Based Shiitake Cultivation in the Northeastern United States,” BMP for short. This BMP is a unique and extremely valuable accomplishment of this project. Unlike other shiitake growers manuals of in print and online, it 1) incorporates project-related data collected by the project farmer participants who set up their own on-farm shiitake trials in 2011 and grew and sold shiitake mushrooms, while keeping detailed records which have be statistically analized and incorporated into the BMP as well as presented at the NOFA conference and the Arnot Forest workshop. This kind of systematic reported on the experience of beginning shiitake farmers is unpresidented. 2) The BMP report not only summarized what we (PIs and Project Manager) know about shiitake farming (like other booklets and web site), but we also solicited advice from experience shiitake growers through the ongoing project-related website, and incorporated their direct quotes into the BMP. It organizes over one-hundred of quotes and images from 23 people/farms. 3) The BMP also includes results of research on forest cultivation of shiitake and other sepecialty mushrooms that was under take independently from the SARE project but which provided research-based recommendations that were incorporated into the BMP. A copy of the nearly completed (draft) of the booklet is attached. The project received nationwide press when the Associated Press (AP) published a story about the project on September 23, 2013. The article was published in print media including USA Today, the Huffington Post, New England Cable News, FOX Online, and hundreds more. It summarized the project and spotlighted two of the project’s participants. A copy of the article can be seen here: http://www.usatoday.com/story/money/business/2013/09/22/demand-grows-shiitake-mushrooms-northeast/2849797/
Impacts and Contributions/Outcomes
The largest contributions have been the creation of the Best Management Practices manual and the direct implementation by farmer participants of a shiitake cultivation enterprise on their own farms. This document will be an excellent source of information for both experienced and beginning shiitake mushroom growers throughout the northeast. Established growers will benefit from the multitudes of helpfully tips complied from over 15 other established growers in the region. Beginning growers will finally have a source for information specific about shiitake production in the northeast. The document will be available online and for free and will be an asset for many years to come. It is the first document to specifically address shiitake production in the northeastern United States. The workshop hosted by NOFA taught approximately 100 farmers basic shiitake mushroom cultivation practices. Many of the participants may use the information to start their own shiitake enterprise or diversify their existed farm products.
Natural Resource Educator
Agroforestry Resource Center, Cornell Cooperative Extension
6055 Rt. 23
Acra, NY 12405
Office Phone: 5186229820
Green Heron Growers
2361 Wait Corners Rd
Panama, NY 14767
Office Phone: 7167530371
Work With Nature Ecological Design Solutions
PO Box 54
Ithaca, NY 14851
Hawk Meadow Farm
5066 Mott Evans Rd
Trumansburg , NY 14886
Office Phone: 6073873424
Dana Forest Farm
459 Dana Hill Rd.
Waitsfield, VT, , VT 05673
Office Phone: 8025950522
Beginning Farmer and Land Access Program Coordinato
UVM Center for Sustainable Agriculture
106 High Point Center, Suite 300
Colchester, VT 05446
Office Phone: 8026569142