Agaricus mushroom production utilizing local substrate materials
Hawaii has year-round growing conditions and abundant agricultural land, yet it still imports more than 85% of its food. More than 2.3 million pounds of Agaricus mushrooms, a mushroom family that includes Portobello and Crimini, were imported each year in 2006 and 2007. Currently, these mushrooms are not produced in Hawaii. Increasing the production of locally grown food products would not only reduce the state of Hawaii's carbon footprint, it would minimize the dependency on imported food, and promote sustainable long-term solutions for Hawaii's small and mid-size farms/food producers. OCR is committed to bringing the cultivation of Agaricus mushrooms to small farms in Hawaii. However, an Agaricus mushroom industry in Hawaii is not economically feasible until local materials can be substituted for conventional substrate materials currently used in mainland mushroom production. It is also important to determine whether a renewable material can be substituted in any proportion for peat, which is the current (non-renewable) "gold standard" for mushroom casing. Expansion by OCR into mushroom cultivation, using local materials, is a logical extension of OCR's current recycling efforts, as green wastes compose a substantial portion of municipal wastes in Hawaiian landfills. This Agaricus mushroom cultivation project has the potential for providing small and mid-sized farms with an income stream while diversifying their year-round crop base regardless of what else they are producing. It will allow them to address a valuable high-demand local mushroom market with the freshest-possible products and will introduce an entirely new crop into Hawaii's agricultural industry. It will also have a positive impact on the environment as a recycling activity, and will provide farmers with spent mushroom compost to use as a soil amendment for their existing field crops. OCR's success with this USDA project will serve as a model for additional innovative recycling projects nationwide, and should lead to other high-value agricultural applications for small and mid-sized farms. The potential benefits are substantial if local sources for substrate and casing can be developed: Agaricus mushroom cultivation would be a new farming industry for Hawaii, one that could reduce Hawaii's imported food dependency. Agaricus mushrooms are highly perishable and sensitive to heat; therefore, they have to be flown in and kept refrigerated before consumption. A domestic source of fresh Agaricus mushrooms would reduce imported fuel dependency for Hawaii's population of over 1.4 million, and provide a source of mushrooms for its influx of tourists. Hawaiian production of Agaricus mushrooms would contribute to Hawaii's economic diversification at a time when it is even more important to think about energy conservation and protection of the environment.
Small Business Information at Submission:
59 589 KE IKI STE B Haleiwa, HI 96712
Number of Employees: