Stan Doninar, one of the two partners in the mushroom farm, showed a growing room ready for harvesting today. The room featured whole white mushrooms and portabella mushrooms. (Ernie Over photo)
(Shoshoni, Wyo.) – Rocky Mountain Mushrooms in Shoshoni is slowly growing its market as the “newest kid on the block” in the mushroom raising industry. With the newest facility, and one of only two mushroom farms in the Rocky Mountains (the other is in Utah), company principal Stan Doninar said cracking the grocery market is not an easy job, “but we’re making slow and steady progress.” He said the company’s three main products, white whole mushrooms, brown Cremini and Portabella mushrooms, are selling well in Denver, Billings, Idaho Falls and, to a lesser extent, in Salt Lake City.
During a rare tour of the facility, for members of the current class of Leadership Fremont County on Thursday, Doninar said the Shoshoni farm is producing between 40,000 and 50,000 pounds of mushrooms annually. He said the company’s goal is to get to 60,000 pounds production.
Because most mushrooms sold in the United States come from very large farms on both coasts, Doninar said Rocky Mountain Mushrooms must be self reliant. “In the larger farm areas, the growers can work with each other. If, say one grower gets a large order for pieces and stems, they can work with a neighboring farm to fill the order. Here, we’re pretty much on our own.”
The Shoshoni facility has 24 growing rooms, each with growing racks 90 feet long, six beds high and 1.4 meters wide. Two racks are in each growing room. For one cycle, from mixing and finishing the compost, to building the beds and adding the spores, to production of the finish product takes about 65 to 72 days.
Because of the sensitivity of growing mushrooms, the farm turns down most requests for tours. “The chance of contamination is too great, and we spend a great deal here to protect the growing rooms from outside bacteria or contaminants. On Thursday’s visit, the Leadership class walked through shoe baths of bacteria killing solution before entering the main farm facility, and only entered one growing room that was being prepped for harvesting today.
Doninar said three crops of mushrooms can be obtained from one bed, and then the compost is removed, the room cleaned and prepped for the next batch. “we harvest two rooms a week to provide a continual supply for our customers,” he said. Because of the relatively short shelf life of mushrooms, any interruption in the growing cycle could be catastrophic. “Our customers want to see that truck every three days, and in the winter we have mountain passes to deal with as well.”
Despite the challenges of growing mushrooms, Doninar said he and his partner are learning more and more each day about the business, and hiccups are becoming less frequent, pointing the business closer and closer to its ultimate production goal.
The mushroom farm is open for walk-in customers and the mushrooms are always subject to availability. For instance, on Thursday, the farm was not selling any brown Creminis, but had the white whole and portabellas in stock. The mushrooms can be purchased by the pound, or in five or ten pound boxes. For questions, call the farm at 307-876-2377.
Photos by Ernie Over, Click to enlarge.