Forest farming of shiitake mushrooms can be a great on-farm enterprise for farmers with wooded land. It's an agroforestry practice that increases crop diversity while providing diversified income for farmers and other forest owners. Shiitake mushrooms are grown on fresh-cut pole-sized logs which may be obtained from thinning as part of sustainable forest management. They begin producing mushrooms after one year and continue producing for up to 5 years.
In January, 2014, the project team published a guide for growers who want to explore shiitake mushroom cultivation on their own land. Shiitake mushrooms are the second-most cultivated variety in the world, and the demand for locally produced, log-grown shiitakes is high among chefs and consumers. According to the guide, "Forest cultivation of shiitake mushrooms can generate income, diversify farm and forestry enterprises, add value to forestry by-products and create opportunities for timber stand improvement." At publication time, these mushrooms sell for $10-$18 per pound across New England.
The guide is the culmination of a 3 year research and education project, sponsored by a grant from USDA-Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education. The project was led by Ken Mudge of Cornell University, and included Ben Waterman of the University of Vermont, Allen Matthews of Chatham University, Bridgett Jamison Hilshey of the University of Vermont, and 20 commercial Shiitake mushroom producers across the Northeast.
Steve Gabriel, Work With Nature Ecological Design Solutions
Allen Matthews, Chatham University
(formerly with UVM Center for Sustainable Agriculture)
Steve & Julie Rockcastle, Green Heron Growers
E-mail Steve & Julie
Steve Sierigk, Hawk Meadow Farm
Marilyn Wyman, Agroforestry Resource Center, Cornell Cooperative Extension
Ben Waterman at 802-656-9142 or firstname.lastname@example.org.