2017 Recipient: Mountain Hollow

Rodney Wise, Mountain Hollow

$6,000 — Mushroom Operation

Rodney has diversified his medicinal herb farm with native and exotic mushrooms. He is growing brown oyster, elm oyster, pearl oyster and maitake mushrooms, taking the next steps to becoming a profitable business. He hopes to turn his 20-year-long farming hobby into a primary income source.

He converted four of his existing farm buildings into space for inoculation, incubation, fruiting and storage. He has purchased fans, timers, grow bags, growing substrate, a water pump and plumbing fixtures. With the right equipment, he can control humidity, create the proper temperature and ensure adequate airflow, which are critical to fruiting mushrooms indoors.

“Through the help of AgOptions, I will eliminate lots of labor time with the ability to purchase proper equipment,” Rodney said. “This will increase the profit margin and give the business a solid cash flow.”

Since Rodney makes his own spawn from native mushrooms, he is saving up to 80 percent in start-up costs. He intends to produce all year long, harvesting one crop a week, which will provide a steady income.

Growing and harvesting most of his inputs on-farm, Rodney strives to be the largest and most productive mushroom operation in the region. He grows his own grains and straw and takes advantage of his wooded acreage, such as using logs for fruiting substrate. Water sources are also abundant throughout the property, keeping irrigation simple and cost effective. The farm even has different levels of shade to facilitate growing various types of mushrooms.

Rodney plans to partner with Mayland Community College, Mitchell High School and N.C. Cooperative Extension to promote community agriculture and educate those interested in mushroom production.

The demand for mushrooms exceeds the supply in Western North Carolina. Rodney expects to sell to the non-profit food hub, TRACTOR Food and Farms in Yancey County, local restaurants, roadside markets, and other farmers who set up at tailgate markets. Through a local food vendor, he has restaurant and store contacts as far north as Boone.

With this project, Rodney is finally putting attention to a dream he’s had for ten years. Until now, most of his attention has been on his job as a body repairman.

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