This small Pennsylvania region produces half the mushroom crop in the U.S.

Nov 11, 2017

In a small section of Pennsylvania, indoor farms are producing more than a million pounds of mushrooms every day.

Farmers in Chester County, Pennsylvania, have been producing mushrooms since the late 1800s, when several local Quakers decided to grow them in the space underneath their flowerbeds, NPR reported in 2012, citing local lore.

Today, the industry generates hundreds of millions of dollars in sales each year for Chester County, which has also held a yearly mushroom festival for more than 30 years. The area’s commercial mushroom farms grow them indoors, which allows them to carefully control the environment and maximize production.

Recently, indoor farming — a model that commercial mushroom producers have used for decades — has drawn more attention as an approach to sustainable food production. Michael Guttman, director of the sustainable development office for Kennett Township, Pennsylvania, spoke with the PBS NewsHour Weekend about the area’s mushroom heritage and the lessons that mushroom production offers for other farmers.

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