Chester County’s Mushroom Farmers Look to Diversify, Grow More Crops Indoors

Image via Jose Moreno, Philadelphia Inquirer.

Mushroom farmers in Chester County are looking to expand their production with vegetables grown indoors, writes Sam Wood for the Philadelphia Inquirer.

Chris Alonzo of Kennett Square’s Pietro Industries grows around 20 million pounds of mushrooms each year on his three farms, but he’s among those looking to diversify.

“I’m excited about getting into something else,” said Alonzo.

He said that with a few minor adjustments, anything could be grown in the warehouses that currently produce only mushrooms.

“A few minor adjustments, and we could grow lettuce,” he said.

This could become a reality soon if local farmers decide to embrace vertical farming. Alonzo, chair of the Chester County Agricultural Development Council, is more than willing to try due to the issues facing mushroom farmers lately.

The possibility of indoor farming as a reasonable alternative to outdoor cultivation for a number of crops is possible thanks to innovations in LED lighting, environmental controls, and automation.

“The only reason we haven’t previously diversified is that it was not economical to compete with field crops for greens,” said Alonzo. “We’re looking at that market now.”

Read more about Chester County’s mushroom industry in the Philadelphia Inquirer here.

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