October brings together two important days: National Mushroom Day and National Farmer’s Day, so we sat down with one of our mushroom farmers, Matt Ticknor. Matt is the manager at South Mill Champs Mushroom Farm in Kennett Square, Penn. aka the mushroom capital of the world.
Mushroom Grower: Matt Ticknor, Kennett Farm Manager
Farm: South Mill Champs
What does a day in the life of a mushroom grower look like?
While the day to day may vary, the work and effort remain the same. First things first, I will come into the facility and review the quality and poundage of what was picked the night before so I can keep the sales department in the loop. After that, I will talk to my harvest manager and discuss how many pounds will be harvested for that day and the next two days. After that, it’s straight to the farm. Every morning I meet with my growers and harvesting crew to discuss what they are seeing out on the farm and what changes are necessary to make to ensure they produce the best possible product for our sales team.
How many people do you oversee?
I supervise four growers, one harvest manager, two assistant harvest managers and a utilities supervisor.
How many mushrooms do you harvest in a day or in a year?
I measure our harvest based on square feet and it can vary. I will typically break down harvest needs based on the variety of mushroom and work to ladder up to a goal square footage or roughly 1.5 million pounds per week at my specific farm.
What is your favorite mushroom variety?
I love maitake and I have a background in growing exotic mushrooms. I used to grow oyster mushrooms and eventually branched out from there and is now a certified mushroom convert. Growing up, I never really ate mushrooms even before working in the industry.
What’s something you know about mushrooms that most people don’t know?
Mushrooms double their size in 24 hours.
What’s one of your favorite ways to prepare mushrooms?
I’ve found that adding mushrooms to a smoker is an interesting way to make a unique pulled “pork” type dish.