For some Michigan residents, harvesting wild mushrooms is a cherished pastime. For one company in Scottville, growing and harvesting gourmet mushrooms is an enterprise.
Traditionally, farm work is dictated by the seasons, and bountiful harvests are reliant on the kindness of Mother Nature. But in the controlled grow rooms at Gourmet Mushrooms, Inc., harvesting is a year-round endeavor.
Gourmet Mushrooms is located on U.S. 10 in a former green bean canning facility. However, mushroom cultivation has been the primary activity on the property for over 15 years.
Cultivating a company
Gary Mills started the Scottville farm in 2005 under the name Diversified Natural Products. Mills’ experience with fungi goes back decades. He has a Ph.D. in mycology/microbiology from Michigan State University, where he also taught and did research. “I’d been at the university for a long, long time and actually had patents for growing morels. This facility was really built for morel mushrooms. So I wanted to push that technology further,” Mills said.
Mills had hoped to also expand work on a separate fermentation product, but the 2008 global financial crisis changed his plans. “Our primary investors were Wall Street guys. As soon as 2008 came along, guess what happened? The economy sank. The Wall Street guys, they disappeared. So then we started looking for other people to come in,” Mills said.
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