Left: Mushroom Houses, Right: Mushrooms ready for harvest
Photos by Scott Gantt. New Garden Township
October 2010: "Weather Lowers Mushroom Volumes"
The Community Awareness Committee (CAC) of the American Mushroom Institute is launching its new Web site, “Great Farmers/Great Neighbors” at mushroomfarmcommunity.org The site highlights the contributions made to the Chester County community by the mushroom growers’ organization and individual members since the late nineteenth century.
“The mushroom farm community is a big part of the history and culture of southern Chester County,” said Gene Richard, Executive Director of CAC. “The site is designed to give information on our farms and also serve as a place where the community can meet some of our members. We invite our neighbors to spend a few minutes on our Web site and learn something about mushroom farming.”
The site highlights members of the organization. Initial family farms presented are C. P. Yeatman & Sons and C. J. Mushroom Co. Also featured is a story on Artemio Camacho, head grower at the C. J. Mushroom Farm. Additional families will be added to the site in the spring and summer. Most mushroom farms in Chester County are run by area residents, many being descents of the original owners.
The website also contains useful information, including a look at the economic impact of mushroom farms. The mushroom farm community employs approximately 9,000 people in southeastern Pennsylvania. Also the industry supports many other businesses that sell supplies and services to mushroom farms.
Besides contributing to the economic health of the community, mushrooms are healthy for consumers. Mushroom varieties share common nutritional values. All cultivated mushrooms are low in calories and are sodium free, fat free and cholesterol free.
The “Great Farmers/Great Neighbors” site corrects a number of misconceptions about mushroom farming. Mushroom farming is environmental friendly. Also, workers on the farms are paid good wages, pay taxes and provide proper residency identification before being employed.
The Community Awareness Committee makes many valuable contributions to the local area. The site has a section on the good work of the committee, including educational support. The committee gives scholarships to seniors from Avon Grove, Kennett, Oxford, Unionville and Kennett high schools. The group has awarded more than $110,000 since the scholarship program’s inception.
For those wishing to find out more about mushrooms from leading national associations and educational organizations, explore these links below.
Pennsylvania leads the nation in mushroom production, with annual production topping 465 million pounds with sales of more than $379 million dollars. It is a crop of tremendous importance to the Commonwealth.
The mushroom farm community extends to companies that provide services, equipment, supplies, technology, transportation and many other JOBS. Without mushroom farming, there will be no need for these ancillary businesses or their employees.
Without mushroom composting, hay farmers in Pennsylvania would see their markets shrink. Without PA mushroom farmers’ environmentally-friendly methods of processing millions of tons of horse manure, chicken manure, etc., the run-off from these chicken and horse farms would create environmental havoc in our streams, rivers and bays.
The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection has developed “Best Practices for Environmental Protection in the Mushroom Farm Community” which provides uniform operating procedures for the use and disposal of spent mushroom substrate (SMS). In addition, each PA mushroom farm is required to have a Mushroom Farm Environmental Management Plan (MFEMP). It is a carefully planned program to maintain or improve the quality of soil, water, and air resources for future generations.