This is the question that anybody who is new to the business will ask.
We have asked that very question ourselves. These are the answers we got:
Dr. Otis Carrol, retired professor, growing shiitake in his Boone
backyard since 1989, says this:
"I started by reading a book on mushroom growing techniques in
the Orient in 1989. Between my wife and myself, we operate this local
business as a side business since I became retired. From these logs sitting
on less than half an acre by my house we make up to $6,000 every year."
See Otis and his operation yard here
An excerpt from recent letter from Aubrey Raper, President, Carolina
Organic Growers, Inc. to us read:
"...I have done a little research on the mushroom producers of
whom I spoke (more archive research is being done by our Secretary now)
but I do know that the business name was "Carolina Mushrooms"
and they were located in Burnsville (Yancey County) and in 1997and 1998
they had mushroom sales through COG of $75,000 each year. The mushrooms
were sold to the regular COG customer base, which at that time was mostly
fine-dining and two grocers, Weaver Street Market (Triangle) and Earth
Paul Stamets, owner of Fungi Perfecti and author of Growing
Gourmet and Medicinal Mushrooms has this to say:
"Many people contact us to ask if they can make money growing
gourmet mushrooms. We believe growing gourmet mushrooms can be marginally
to highly profitable.... but frankly, everyone's circumstances are so
uniquely different it is impossible to generalize
. We strongly encourage
anyone interested in commercial mushroom farming to get familiarized with
the process of mushroom cultivation, and then start small. After running
mini-trials, and doing some test marketing, you should be better prepared
to make an informed decision".
And what does our mushroom expert here in North Carolina, Dr. Omon.
S. Isikhuemhen has to say?
"Since when I started to come to do research studies in the Mycology
laboratory at Duke University in 1996, I have noticed that the mushroom
industry does not exist in NC. However, mushrooms are sold in grocery
shops across NC. The question is where are those mushrooms coming from?
Since they are being sold here and none grown here, it means someone is
making money off the state of NC on edible mushrooms. Although some people
tried to grow mushrooms in NC, they could not sustain it. This was not
because there was no market for it, but mainly due to lack of qualified
experts to work with them and a general lack of appropriate technology
for commercial mushroom cultivation. Now I am here as an expert that can
help put this industry in place. I am here to help you with all my experience
in Europe, Japan and other parts of the US. At NC A&T State University,
we have the appropriate laboratory to test cultivation technologies, find
solutions to your problems in mushroom cultivation, develop home grown
technology for cultivation, determine, breed and select local edible and
medicinal mushrooms strains for cultivation by farmers in NC. We have
extension service component that will train you on commercial mushroom
cultivation in whatever way suitable and convenient for you."
We have also done several North Carolina market
surveys. Check out the results to see what people in North Carolina
think about buying mushrooms. If you still think you are not decided on
what you would like to do, please feel free to come to one of our workshops,
call us to ask more qustions.