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Needing advice on starting a commercial mushroom farm

 
jim harley
Posts: 8
bee forest garden fungi
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Hello everyone, I am starting a mushroom factory of 1500sq ft I was wondering if anyone would be able to help me with some advise on setting up the cheapest way possible?? I would like to grow primarily oysters and a couple of fancy ones like chestnut and kings. I have a fantastic market for them and would like to be up and harvesting by march 2017. I have taken a mycology course on making sub-straight and making counter top kits with the oat straw. All was successful and I had a great interest from local restaurants. So I would like to go bigger and make some good money. If you tell me where to start as far as a needed list of things to get me started. 
 
Joseph Lofthouse
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Posts: 1976
Location: Cache Valley, zone 4b, Irrigated, 9" rain in badlands.
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A building that is moisture proof, and that will not be eaten away by mushrooms.
A robust HVAC system to keep the growing conditions at ideal temperatures and humidity.
A separate clean room for expanding cultures.
An industrial sized chipper/shredder.
An industrial sized autoclave or pressure cooker.
A laminar flow hood.
An industrial sized pasteurizer.
And all the little things like jars, bags, peroxide, a reliable source of straw, tools, respirators, etc, etc, etc...

 
John Saltveit
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Posts: 1997
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I would join the facebook group "Mushroom cultivation."
John S
PDX OR
 
jim harley
Posts: 8
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Well that is very helpful , is there a way of building a pasteurizer from 45 gallon drums and a rocket stove set up??same as the pressure cookerand as far as the hvac could i use and industrial cool mist humidifier??
 
John Saltveit
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Many people use 45/55 gallon drums as the pasteurizer. It is outdoors as I"ve seen it. A heat source below of course. Usually I've seen some kind of a metal basket that the substrate can be put in and removed quickly at the right time.
John S
PDX OR
 
Casie Becker
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Location: Just northwest of Austin, TX
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One of the first things you will need is a good business plan. Sit down with pad a paper (or computer/tablet) and take a realistic list at what resources you have available to get started. How much time and money to you have available to put towards this? How long can you afford to go before you break even, much less make a profit? How are you going to deliver to customers? ect... Figuring out your budget at the beginning can help guide you away from careless financial mistakes.

I don't know much about growing mushrooms, but I do work in retail food service. Decide early what kind of packaging you're going to deliver your mushrooms in. It can add up to a significant business cost.

There's a recent thread, https://permies.com/t/58702/financial-strategy/avoid-farmers-loead about how to keep one person keeps their farm afloat that wsing-farm#499661 There may be some useful information for you there.
 
jim harley
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Hi I went on facebook and there are several mushroom cultivating pages , is there one specific one I should concentrate on? Most of them are from far away warmer countries.
 
John Saltveit
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I put it in quotes because it is called "THe mushroom cultivation group."
https://www.facebook.com/groups/MushCult/
There is one person who posts from India. Northern India is temperate as parts of it are near Mt. Everest.
John S
PDX OR
 
jim harley
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Thanks Casie. I don't need a business plan. I need a list of things  to get going so I can source out the costs myself. I have clients and am already delivering by purchasing off someone else. I am delivering up to 500 lbs a week. I just want to eliminate the middle man and make some good money. My business partner is supplying the space and any construction I need.
 
jim harley
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Cool Thanks. John
 
Joseph Lofthouse
garden master
Posts: 1976
Location: Cache Valley, zone 4b, Irrigated, 9" rain in badlands.
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Casie Becker wrote:One of the first things you will need is a good business plan. 


I think that the plan should include things like losing 60% of the early crops to contamination while figuring out how to really grow and harvest mushrooms on a commercial scale.
 
Casie Becker
pollinator
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500 lbs is a lot of mushrooms in my mind. I was just pricing composts and saw mushroom composts going for 60 dollars a yard.

Sorry, not immediately helpful to you. Maybe if you can tell us what you know you need, more people will be able to help brainstorm how to get it. The forum isn't very big on telling others what they need (substitute should here) to do, but many of us love to make plans to HOW to do what you want. 
 
David Hernick
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Location: Oakland, CA
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I have seen an awesome system using as rotary drum cooker/pasteurizer.  Aged/leached sawdust is augured/conveyed to the drum and Wheat or bran is added along with a little gypsum.  The batch is sterilized, once cool the media is augured out to mix with spawn and drop into a bag with a filter vent (Polypropylene is not needed since it is already sterilized) then sealed.  Once the bag is colonized the block goes on to racks for fruting... or it is used as spawn.

This is paul stamets' recipe for enriched sawdust:
100 pounds of sawdust, 50 pounds of one half to four inch wood chips, 40 pounds of bran(or wheat), and 5 to 7 pounds of gypsum, moistened to 60 to 65% water and then sterilized. 

You could pasteurize the sawdust media in a metal barrel with propane burner but you need a clean room to make your bags/blocks, maybe you could improvise the filters and use standard produce bags then you need a growing room and fruiting room where you can control light and moisture ...

I hope this helps.
 
eric koperek
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TO:  Jim Harley
FROM:  Eric Koperek = erickoperek@gmail.com
SUBJECT:  Commercial Mushroom Cultivation
DATE:  PM 5:06 Thursday 15 September 2016
TEXT:

(1)  Commercial mushroom cultivation is a highly technical branch of horticulture that requires lots of knowledge (reading) and hands-on experience.  Translation:  It is easy for the amateur to lose large sums of money trying to grow mushrooms.  GET THEE TO A LIBRARY!  Spend 6 weeks reading professional literature about mushroom cultivation then have a long think about investing in a business of which you have no personal experience.  Note:  The attrition rate of would-be mushroom growers exceeds 50% in the first 2 years of operation.  Are you prepared to lose your "shirt"?

(2)  I strongly advise you to limit yourself to mushroom species that are easy to grow and can be CHEAPLY cultivated = no sterilization or expensive equipment needed.

(3)  We grow many hectares of Shiitake mushrooms (Lentinula edodes) for sale to restaurants and specialty food stores.  The process is nearly idiot proof.  You need a bit of pine forest and some oak or other hardwood logs 4 feet long.  You can rent forest land and cut or buy your own logs.  Note:  "Pine" means CONIFER = trees with needle or scale like leaves that bear their seeds in cones.  Drill holes in oak logs.  Holes should be 1 inch diameter and 2 inches deep.  Space holes every foot = 12 inches down each log.  Fill holes with Shiitake mushroom spawn (purchased from a reputable lab so your cultures are pure).  Plug each hole with a bit of wood or blob of scrap beeswax.  Lean "seeded" hardwood logs against trunks of LIVE conifer trees = make a ring around each trunk like an Indian tepee or a steep house roof.  Logs MUST be kept in the SHADE of LIVE conifer trees to prevent growth of unwanted organisms.  Do NOT try to grow Shiitake mushrooms in hardwood = deciduous forests = forests with broad leaved trees that drop their leaves in the fall.  Wait patiently.  It takes a year or two for fungi to colonize logs and start to fruit.  You can speed the process if you water your logs during the growing season with a mist irrigation system (but this is NOT essential).  Natural rainfall will work in any temperate climate that gets 40 or more inches of rainfall yearly.  Naturally cultivated Shiitake mushrooms grow in "flushes", usually in spring and fall when weather is relatively cool and rainy.  Oak logs will continue to produce mushrooms until fungi eat all available nutrients in the wood.  For continuous commercial production cut and stack fresh logs each year.  Old logs can be chipped and used for mulch.  You can make your own mushroom spawn from healthy logs that are full of young fungus that has produced its first crop of mushrooms. 

(4)  Note how EASY and CHEAP it is to grow Shiitake mushrooms:  All you need is a drill, drill bit, wood saw, a bucket of mushroom spawn, a few hardwood logs, and some live pine trees.

(5)  Because your Shiitake mushrooms are Naturally Grown = Wild Crafted = better than "organic" you can get a premium for your "wild harvested" mushrooms.

(6)  Note that natural Shiitake mushroom cultivation requires little cash, little labor, little homework, and little financial risk.

(7)  Please do not hesitate to contact me if you have any questions or require additional information about commercial mushroom cultivation.

ERIC KOPEREK = erickoperek@gmail.com

end comment

            
 
Ken W Wilson
Posts: 381
Location: Nevada, Mo 64772
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Eric, are the conifer trees just for year round shade or is there some other advantage? For small scale, home use mushroom, would the shade on the north side of a building work?
 
eric koperek
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TO:  Ken W. Wilson
FROM:  Eric Koperek = erickoperek@gmail.com
SUBJECT:  Pine Forest for Japanese Oak Mushroom Cultivation
DATE:  PM 6:37 Wednesday 9 November 2016
TEXT:

(1)     Please excuse my delay in responding to your question.  My work keeps me traveling 10 months each year.

(2)     Pine forests are ESSENTIAL for natural cultivation of Japanese Oak Mushrooms.

(3)     Pine forests host beneficial micro-organisms that prevent growth of detrimental bacteria and fungi that compete against Japanese Oak Mushroom fungi.

(4)     A pine forest is an ecosystem.  The myriad lifeforms within the ecosystem form a stable, biological control that suppresses disease causing organisms.

(5)     The pine forest replaces sterilization, pasteurization, and quarantine measures used for high-tech commercial mushroom production. 

(6)     RULE:  Always place hardwood logs used for oak mushroom production in conifer = pine forests.   Nota Bene:  A "conifer" is a tree with needle or scale-like leaves that bears seeds in cones.  Make sure there is a thick layer of pine needles where each log touches the soil.  Lean each hardwood log against the trunk of a LIVE pine tree.  Never use dead trees to nurse mushroom logs.

(7)     NEVER place hardwood logs used for oak mushroom production in deciduous forests = forests with broad leaf trees that drop their leaves in the fall.  Broad leaf forests contain disease causing organisms that kill Japanese Oak Mushroom fungi.

(     Please send me an e-mail if you have any questions or require additional information. 

ERIC KOPEREK = erickoperek@gmail.com
www.worldagriculturesolutions.com

end comment



 
Ken W Wilson
Posts: 381
Location: Nevada, Mo 64772
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Thanks Eric.
 
John Saltveit
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I think you both have good points.  Maybe easier in a coniferous forest, where there would be less competition from hardwood-growing weed fungi.  Probably easier in shade than in full sun.  My observation is that most permaculturalists are like me: they try to grow productive fruit and vegies in full or mostly sun and mushrooms in more shady areas.  That doesn't necessarily mean that everyone has to do it that way. To paraphrase a former US secretary of defense: You go to permaculture war with the plot of land you have, not the plot of land you wish you had. 

In my opinion, sharing of ideas generally works better when people say, "This is what I did. Here's how it worked. This is what how I like it," than to say, "You have to do it this way."
John S
PDX OR
 
2017 Permaculture Design Course at Wheaton Labs
http://richsoil.com/pdc
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