Off Grid High Value Crop System: Harnessing Mushroom Farm Bi-Products for Soil and CO2 Enrichment to Produce Additional Specialty Crops

Award Information
Agency: Department of Agriculture
Branch: N/A
Contract: 2018-33610-28316
Agency Tracking Number: 2018-00209
Amount: $100,000.00
Phase: Phase I
Program: SBIR
Solicitation Topic Code: 8.12
Solicitation Number: N/A
Solicitation Year: 2018
Award Year: 2018
Award Start Date (Proposal Award Date): 2018-08-01
Award End Date (Contract End Date): 2019-11-30
Small Business Information
7034 WHITNEY RD, Graham, NC, 27253-9129
DUNS: 080267463
HUBZone Owned: N
Woman Owned: Y
Socially and Economically Disadvantaged: N
Principal Investigator
 Laura Stewart
 (336) 525-1406
Business Contact
 Laura Stewart
Title: Owner
Phone: (336) 525-1406
Research Institution
US interest in gourmet mushrooms has been growing rapidly, with a 50% increase in sales seen between2014 and 2015 (National Agricultural Statistics Service, 2015), resulting in an increase in small farmoperations specializing in this nutrient dense crop. This project will research how a new agriculturalenterprise model consisting of mushrooms, medicinal herbs, and a non?food vermiculture product canbe supported by harnessing two natural and often un?utilized bi?products of mushroom farming: (1)carbon dioxide enriched air which is produced by the oyster mushrooms and currently flushed from themushroom farm into the general air in most mushroom operations through a continuous exhaustsystem and (2) spent mushroom substrate consisting of hard wood pellets, soy bean hull, and mycelium.This project will result in a replicable farming model ideal for small and mid?sized farms which canefficiently produce:(1) gourmet mushrooms including oyster, maitake, shiitake and lions mane;(2) medical and culinary herbs including holy basil, ginger, catnip, chamomile and others; and(3) vermicompost, which will be used as both an on?farm product to enrich the soil for medicinal herbsand as a product available to customers for additional farm revenue.The principal investigators will build an off grid mushroom growing facility using solar power to keepmushrooms at their desired temperature, humidity level, and oxygen level. Mushrooms produce CO2,which, without constant fresh air exchange can raise ambient CO2 levels to over 2,000 parts per million(more than five times that of outdoor air). Instead of flushing this CO2 enriched air outdoors, it will bechanneled to a high tunnel to provide CO2 enriched air to medicinal herbs, fueling the photosynthesisprocess and resulting in larger leafs and healthier plants. In addition, spent mushroom substrate will beconverted to vermicompost, which will both supplement the soil of the medicinal herbs and provide anadditional farm sales project.We believe this project will be of particular interest to both rural and urban farms because (1) it can bereplicated on a small footprint of land (2) it overcomes the significant barrier of land access by makingthe project possible to execute on land without any infrastructure such as grid electricity or runningwater (3) it creates three valuable products, including two nutrient dense food products, with arelatively small financial investment and waiting time before harvest.

* Information listed above is at the time of submission. *

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