Gourmet mushrooms are a high value crop which can be a great addition to a diversified farming operation, especially if they are lucky enough to be situated on land with a decent parcel of hardwood forest (for log production), or willing to invest in the equipment necessary for more intensive cultivation.
Wild harvesting mushrooms can also be a lot of fun, and fairly lucrative, if you know where to go and when, and can find a buyer. Many gourmet restaurants are thrilled to get wild-harvested mushrooms, so it’s worth trying to make these connections. I have done this with both morel’s and hen of the woods (see pictures below). But make sure you know what you’re doing if you’re going to hunt (for more information see below). Also anyone interested in this topic should check out Paul Stamets on 6 ways mushrooms can save the world.
1) Fungi Perfecti is, in my opinion, the gold standard for mushroom products, publications, high quality spawn, and seminars. Paul Stamets is a true pioneer in the field, and continues to produce first rate research on bioremediation, eco-mycology, and theoretical interpretations of fungal behavior. His now classic books, The Mushroom Cultivator, and Growing Gourmet and Medicinal Mushrooms are unparalleled texts for learning to produce multiple species of mushrooms in a variety of growing systems, at almost any scale. If you buy only two books on mushroom production, it should be these. Also check out Paul Stamets YouTube Channel.
3) Alabama Cooperative Extension has a basic Shiitake Mushroom Log Production publication available online. And another Shiitake Log Production Publication, which I actually like better, is available from the University of Missouri Center for Agroforestry.
4) The Mushroom Council offers excellent research and production information for mushroom growers. Their website is full of resources for mushroom growers including retail info.; industry statistics; news items, and much more.
5) The University of California Small Farm Program offers a very nice overview of the potential for mushroom production on small farms (including resources) in their online publication Mushrooms: A Small Scale Agriculture alternative.
6) The National Sustainable Agriculture Information Service (ATTRA) offers comprehensive information on mushroom production and sales on their Mushroom Cultivation and Marketing page.
7) A Reference for Mushroom Growers from Penn State University is a site that provides current information about the diseases and pests that plague the mushroom growing industry. Information on new trends and developments in the industry is also included. More commercial than small-scale in its emphasis.
8) GardenGuides.com has a nice information page on Low Cost Mushroom Production at Home.
9) The Mushroom Growers Newsletter has a great website with lots of production resources, a supplier list, an events list, book reviews, and more.
10) University of Maryland Extension has a web publication and cost spreadsheet on Shiitake Mushroom Production and Marketing.
11) HotFrog has a Mushroom Production Directory which lists companies who sell supplies, and farms that produce edible mushrooms.
12) Gourmet Mushrooms and Mushroom Products has mushroom growing kits, spawn, books, and other supplies.
13) Gourmet Mushrooms Inc. has equipment for and information about mushroom production.
14) Shroomery has some decent information about production of a number of edible mushroom species.
I strongly recommend that anyone interested in mushroom production at any level, and especially about collecting mushrooms in the wild, will need to learn some basic Mycology. Here are some good websites that can help you with that:
MycoWeb: http://www.mykoweb.com/ Lots of great scientific information, pictures, recipes, articles, links, and much more and much more…
Tom Volk’s Fungi Page: http://www.tomvolkfungi.net/ This page is a comprehensive and information packed source for all things related to fungi. Fantastic information, pictures, links, articles, and more…
FungiPhoto.com: http://www.fungiphoto.com/ Lots of great pictures by genera.
Fungi of Saskatchewan http://www.usask.ca/biology/fungi/home_%20page.shtml has good keys, a list of fungi with photos, and lots of other resources for hunting mushrooms.
There are also a number of good Mushroom Hunting Books. Here are a few of my favorites:
The books with the best dichotomous keys are the first two:
Mushrooms Demystified written by David Arora, 10 Speed Press.: Not a lot of pictures, but this one has the best keys, and serious mushroom hunters consider it ‘the bible’. $32.95
Mushrooms of North Eastern North America written by Alan Bessette, Arleen Bessette, and David Fischer, Syracuse University Press. Great Keys, and lots of color pictures. $49.95
National Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Mushrooms by Gary H. Lincoff, Alfred A. Knopf, Inc. Great pictures with short descriptions, but doesn’t include Latin names or keys. Small enough to easily take on a foray. $20.95
All the Rain Promises and More is also written By David Arora, and published by 10 Speed Press. It is a nice pocket guide, easy to carry, with good pictures and lots of fun stuff. A joy to read. $17.95