Gwendolyn Casebeer and Jay Englebach, Black Trumpet Farm
Recycling Local Materials to Improve Efficiency in Gourmet Mushroom Production
Grant Award: $8,000
Responding to sustained demand, Gwen and Jay used their 2020 AgOptions grant to obtain a 130-gallon mushroom substrate steamer, HEPA air filtration units and a vertical impulse bag sealer. Demand for their gourmet mushrooms remains high and they often have to turn down new accounts due to lack of supply.
This year they plan to purchase a mixing machine that will enable them to use sawdust as a mushroom growth substrate rather than the pelleted substrate they currently use. The benefits of their project are many: by using locally-produced sawdust from Western North Carolina’s fine furniture factories, they can close production loops and recycle waste materials, as well as save money on the purchase and shipping of the pelleted substrate material.
This project will save local businesses money by reducing hauling costs and tipping fees and will reduce everyone’s environmental impact by keeping materials out of the landfill. Finally, they can use the mixing machine to meet the need for affordable, high quality compost in our region. To fill this niche, they plan to reuse the leftover mushroom substrate as an input for mushroom compost blends.
The money saved and increased income from this project will enable them to grow into their new 2100 square foot indoor mushroom facility, which will allow them to eventually scale up to 750-1000 pounds of mushrooms per week year-round.