How to Start a Mushroom Production Farm: 6 Steps for All Mushroom Farmers

Spring is upon us and lots of people have new ideas and projects moving through their brain; How to start a mushroom production farm is one of them!

This post goes over some basic steps to getting started and what to sort out in your brain as you look at starting a mushroom farm. I think the best way to get into mushroom production is to follow the six steps outlined below. In addition to the information below we have an array of articles for you if you want to explore some of the strategies of mushroom growing on logs or wood chips, or fruiting out of grow kits. And if you want further clarification or support on how to start a mushroom production farm, reach out to me for consultation services.
  1. mission
  2. goals
  3. strategies
  4. opportunities and resources
  5. challenges
  6. timeline

How to start a mushroom production farm: Mission

Identifying a mission is a critical part to starting any business. In the end, a mushroom production farm is a business! Even if you are doing it for fun or connection to land and fungi it is important to clarify that from the beginning. The goals and strategies of someone looking to grow mushrooms to be outside and in the rhythms of nature through cultivation of mushrooms will be very different than someone trying to create a large production business that can be sold in 5 years. The mission of Fungi Ally is to create a world of balance and connection by revealing the power of mushrooms. Whenever we have decisions to make about the direction of the company or where to spend money or how to do things we start out by orienting ourselves to this mission. The mission becomes the North Star for the business, if you don't create this North Star, likely the default will be money and growth. That is okay if that is your North Star, but typically when you really talk to why people start mushroom farms that isn't the base reason. Start out by finding a couple of words that describe the world you want to create. For instance, balanced, connected, beautiful, nourished, profitable, alive, magical, or whatever it may be. Then use a couple of words to describe how you will do this overarching strategy to create the world you want.

Goals for starting a mushroom production farm

Next up is to identify some goals. To start it is great to have large annual goals and then from there break them down to see what exactly that means in a month-to-month or day-to-day reality. In Fungi Ally there are three different businesses. Spawn, fresh mushrooms, and education. SO we might put goals on each of these aspects of the business.
  1. Produce and sell $100,000 of mushroom.
  2. Increase online spawn sales by 50%.
  3. Reveal the power of mushrooms to 300 people.
Now we know exactly what we want to achieve during the year, have a mission that we can check in on to make sure we are holding our intention for doing this at the front and center, and can measure if we do what we wanted or don't. Okay now we wade into some muckier waters. This is where there are tons and tons of options of how we are going to achieve the goals we set. Starting a mushroom farm can get foggy when faced with all these different options, BUT hopefully with a clear mission and goals it will be much easier. From growing mushroom on logs, to buying blocks or spawn, to buying and selling fresh mushrooms, the options for how to start a mushroom production business is endless. And now there are even mushroom production businesses that don't sell mushrooms! It is actually kind of cool that the possibilities of working with fungi are expanding and people can think BEYOND the mushroom and imagine working with just mycelium. For the purpose of this exploration o how to start a mushroom production farm, I am going to continue using the three goals created above to develop a strategy.
  1. Produce and sell $100,000 of mushroom.
    • Strategy 1 could be to produce 10,000 pounds of mushrooms and sell them at $10/pound. This will mean producing about 200 pounds per week (gives some wiggle room). 800 Ready-to-fruit blocks will be purchased in once a month and 200 fruited weekly. Now I can easily figure out cash flow and the markets I need to pursue to make this a reality. Likely this would mean producing shiitake and oyster mushrooms and trying to find 15 or so solid wholesale customers that will buy at $10 a pound, restaurants and coops. But now I won't waste any time talking to distributors or farmers markets because I know that isn't inline with my strategy
    • Strategy 2 could be purchase and resell 2500 pounds of mushrooms at $40+ per pound. In this case I will buy in high value mushrooms like truffles and morels, or maybe dried mushrooms, or maybe produce and dry shiitake mushrooms and sell for over $40 per pound. Note: these strategies do NOT take into consideration cost so probably a better goal is to so produce 5,000 pounds of mushrooms and make $20,000.
  2. Increase online spawn sales by 50%.
  3. Reveal the power of mushrooms to 300 people.
    • Strategy 1, run 10 workshops that are attended by 30 people each and highlight the power of mushrooms.
    • Strategy 2 run 1 workshop with 300 people that reveals the power of mushrooms.
So I hope you get a hang of how this works. Starting from the top you start to create a vision of what your day-to-day life looks like and how to start a mushroom production farm that is the right option for you. Opportunities and resources. This is where you figure out what you have to utilize to make this happen. There might be a little feedback loop here between strategies and resources. Looking at Strategy 1 of creating $100k in sales you realize I don't have the cash flow to buy 800 blocks in every month or I don't have the market to sell 200 pounds per week. Now you need to change your strategy! Maybe instead you have a crazy amount of trees and a great online presence so you will produce shiitakes on logs, dry, and sell them online. Keep playing around with what you have and if it is in line with the strategies above. This will give you a great vision of how to start a mushroom farm.

Challenges of starting a mushroom production farm

Now the fun part! You get to list all the things that will make you fail. What are the things that will make this hard. Be as honest as you can, maybe run it by some friends and family so you can really get some feedback. This is an amazing opportunity to realize what is going to be a challenge before you are IN IT. To know suspect some of the challenges coming gives you much better preparation for when they arrive.

Timeline for starting a mushroom production farm

Nothing gets done without a date. Add in a timeline to when all of this is going to happen. If you have an annual goal of "Reveal the power of mushrooms to 300 people", break down exactly what you will need to do to make that happen. Say I want to do 1 workshop with 300 people. In the month of March I will reach out to 10 venues that might host me. In April I will develop an outreach plan of how to reach 3,000 people, 10% of which will come. In May I will book a venue and set a date for the talk. And so on. Creating this timeline can break down that original goal into little chunks that can be tackled day-by-day.

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