ˈɜrbən•maɪˈkɑlədʒi (urban mycology)

The biggest challenge in urban agriculture is space to grow food. Outside of access to available land, soil contamination, water availability and climate are the major concerns and limiting factors (Wortman & Lovell, 2013). One overlooked option in urban agriculture is mycology, mainly mushrooms. The main reasons mushrooms are fantastic for urban agriculture is that they require very little in invested money and can be done in the unused spaces of a home. The main reasons it is not more readily adopted is because it is intimidating. It is not planting seeds and that is scary for many future urban farmers. So how is mycology the answer to urban agriculture inclusion?

Growing mushrooms as a part of urban agriculture is a strong choice. Mushrooms can be grown with great success in plastic containers (bags) and indoors (Grimm & Wosten, 2018). Why is this such an amazing concept? Someone who wants to participate in an urban agriculture movement in their community is not required to find a vacant lot or have a back yard or access to a rooftop. There is no need for expensive grow lights, pumps, or fish tanks. It does require a high degree of sanitation and protocol when starting so as not to cultivate different specimens.

Overcoming the intimidation of growing mushrooms comes from education. A successful urban agriculture community would encourage members to grow mushrooms, even if there is physical land to spare. The waste products from a mycology endeavor can be used in composting for traditional urban agriculture operations very effectively (Dhar & Shrivastava, 2012). Mushrooms offer a variety throughout the year of different flavors and textures. LA FungHI, a local mushroom farming operation in Los Angeles offers a seasonal menu of available product. This is a market filled with opportunity. YouTube and Reddit are both filled with bountiful resources for beginners.

A fun aspect of growing mushrooms is that being an organic operation is very easy to accomplish. The USDA sees the mushrooms, other than white button caps, as specialty crops and is a recognizable product to receive a USDA Organic certification (Ellor, 2020). The same requirements that would be required of other specialty crops to obtain that certificate are required for mushrooms. This means a greater opportunity for income generation within the community as specific species of mushrooms can retail for up to $12 per pound.

The sustainable feature that works best with urban agriculture is that mycological substrate required can be created from certain waste products. Many start-ups have made a successful business model using the waste products from local businesses like coffee shops, while lumber and flour mills can also be a source for substrate (Rangarajan & Riordan, 2019). This is not something that might be available in all communities, but it is a greater possibility as the coffee shop trend is still a successful expansion model. This is encouraging for those looking to get started in urban agriculture as it creates a niche that can be filled by anyone in a community looking to grow delicious food.  

References:

Wortman, Sam E., and Lovell, Sarah Taylor. “Environmental Challenges Threatening the Growth of Urban Agriculture in the United States.” Journal of Environmental Quality Vol. 42, 5 (2013): 1283-1603. 01 September 2013

Grimm, Daniel, and Han A B Wösten. “Mushroom cultivation in the circular economy.” Applied microbiology and biotechnology vol. 102,18 (2018): 7795-7803. doi:10.1007/s00253-018-9226-8

Dhar, B.L. & Shrivastava, Neeraj.  “Mushrooms and Environmental Sustainability.” (2012) 400                                                                                                      CHAPTER 16Mushrooms and Environmental SustainabilityBL Dhar*, Neeraj ShrivastavaMushroom Research Development and Training Centre (MRDTC)

Ellor, Tina. “Mushrooms and Organic Mushrooms: A Specialty Within A Specialty.” (2020) USDA.gov, US Department of Agriculture, www.usda.gov/sites/default/files/documents/Ellor.pdf.

Rangarajan, A., & Riordan, M. (2019). The Promise of Urban Agriculture: National Study of Commercial Farming in Urban Areas. Washington, DC: United States Department of Agriculture/Agricultural Marketing Service and Cornell University Small Farms Program.

Published by trevorwingett

I love AG!

3 thoughts on “ˈɜrbən•maɪˈkɑlədʒi (urban mycology)

  1. When working at my previous job, several people came in over the years to purchase supplies that they intended to use to cultivate mushrooms in their homes. It was always so interesting because I could only think of commercial growing operations being done on massive scales in caves. I really appreciate your blog article because it helped me to understand how viable mushroom cultivation is on any scale and with very little money put forward.

    Looking deeper into the prospect, I discovered the urban agriculture company Southwest Mushrooms based in Phoenix, Arizona. While larger than home scale cultivation, the company still produces hundreds of pounds of product within a few small rooms. They sell their products locally and through their online shop to supply restaurants and everyday cooks. In this video posted to their You Tube channel, the owner of the company “Mushroom Mike” walks viewers through the stages of growing mushrooms in an urban set-up. While using machinery to increase efficiency due to the size of their production, the company shows that with a few simple start-up costs (starter culture, growing medium, and heat) anyone could easily begin growing their own mushrooms.

    For anyone wanting to look further into the company, this link is for their website:

    https://southwestmushrooms.com/

    Like

  2. Mycology is often overlooked in urban agriculture and I am very happy that you wrote more about this topic. Personally I can agree that I have grown a variety of different vegetables at home, but have been intimidated from growing mushrooms. Majority of urban farms I have either worked on or visited do not grow mushrooms. Reading your article made me more curious to how mushrooms are actually grown, and if it is so easy; is lack of knowledge really the only thing holding urban farms back?

    As you mentioned growing mushrooms can be easily done indoors, but what if the urban farm does not have any available indoor space? Urban farms are usually lots and if they do have any indoor space it may be used for storing tools. Growing mushrooms indoors is ideal because you are able to control the light and humidity. For example common button mushrooms do not require any light to produce.

    Growing the mushrooms outside can be done and require unused space if you grow them in hardwood trees or logs. The main problem with growing mushrooms outdoors is that it is difficult to maintain adequate humidity. California does not have ideal conditions for growing all mushrooms outdoors but there are certain varieties that will grow outdoors here. In northern California where there is more moisture the most popular mushrooms to grow outdoors is oyster,shiitake, and wine cap.

    References:

    Whiteheart, R. (2010, April 04). Growing Mushrooms for Fun and Profit. Retrieved November 22, 2020, from https://smallfarms.cornell.edu/2010/04/growing-mushrooms-for-fun-and-profit/

    Gabriel, S. (2019, April 01). Producing Specialty Mushrooms: Outdoor VS Indoor Systems. Retrieved November 22, 2020, from https://smallfarms.cornell.edu/2019/04/producing-specialty-mushrooms-outdoor-vs-indoor-systems/

    Like

  3. Mycology is often overlooked in urban agriculture and I am very happy that you wrote more about this topic. Personally I can agree that I have grown a variety of different vegetables at home, but have been intimidated from growing mushrooms. Majority of urban farms I have either worked on or visited do not grow mushrooms. Reading your article made me more curious to how mushrooms are actually grown, and if it is so easy; is lack of knowledge really the only thing holding urban farms back?

    As you mentioned growing mushrooms can be easily done indoors, but what if the urban farm does not have any available indoor space? Urban farms are usually lots and if they do have any indoor space it may be used for storing tools. Growing mushrooms indoors is ideal because you are able to control the light and humidity. For example common button mushrooms do not require any light to produce.

    Growing the mushrooms outside can be done and require unused space if you grow them in hardwood trees or logs. The main problem with growing mushrooms outdoors is that it is difficult to maintain adequate humidity. California does not have ideal conditions for growing all mushrooms outdoors but there are certain varieties that will grow outdoors here. In northern California where there is more moisture the most popular mushrooms to grow outdoors is oyster,shiitake, and wine cap.

    References:

    Gabriel, S. (2019, April 01). Producing Specialty Mushrooms: Outdoor VS Indoor Systems. Retrieved November 22, 2020, from https://smallfarms.cornell.edu/2019/04/producing-specialty-mushrooms-outdoor-vs-indoor-systems/

    Whiteheart, R. (2010, April 04). Growing Mushrooms for Fun and Profit. Retrieved November 22, 2020, from https://smallfarms.cornell.edu/2010/04/growing-mushrooms-for-fun-and-profit/

    Like

Leave a Reply to shouston9898 Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: