WEST CHESTER − April 15, 2021 – An important program to promote the nutritional, culinary, and health benefits of Pennsylvania-grown mushrooms will receive $40,000 in state grant funding through the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture, state Senator Carolyn Comitta and state Representative Christina Sappey announced today.
The American Mushroom Institute (AMI), the leading national trade association representing the growers, processors, and marketers of cultivated mushrooms in the United States, will receive the matching funds for the Mushroom Farmers of Pennsylvania’s “Eating Better to Build Back Better” program.
This program focuses on mushroom culinary properties and health benefits, including naturally occurring vitamin D. It will also promote contributions to soil health and carbon sequestration.
“Local farms are an important part of our economy and locally grown agricultural products, like fresh mushrooms, can be the best part of any meal,” Comitta, who serves on the Senate Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee, said. “As we continue to work to advance our economic recovery, these funds will support efforts to promote the value of local farming and homegrown crops.”
“The mushroom industry is one of Pennsylvania’s largest, with an economic impact of about $1.1 billion,” said Sappey, who serves on the House Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee. “We want to highlight these family-owned and operated farms and all of the ways this healthy and valuable crop can be used in food.”
The funding comes through the Pennsylvania Agricultural Product Promotion, Education and Export Promotion Matching Grant, a program within the 2020-21 state budget. The department’s Bureau of Market Development offers the grant to encourage and maximize the promotion of Pennsylvania-produced agricultural products.
The AMI grant project was one of 16 across the Commonwealth to be awarded $300,000 in total state matching funds to increase consumer awareness of Pennsylvania agriculture products and market opportunities for agriculture producers.
“With so many appealing products produced in Pennsylvania, consumers don’t have to look far to find fresh, healthy choices close to home,” Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding said. “When aware of the options, consumers are more likely to choose local products. Promoting the story behind the food is a compelling way to attract consumers to Pennsylvania products. Once they make that first purchase, it is natural for them to become repeat customers.”
Non-profit organizations based in 11 counties received matching funds for projects, many of which have a regional or statewide focus. The department prioritized projects aligned to COVID-19 recovery.
Southeastern Pennsylvania is known as the Mushroom Capital of the World. Mushroom farms, many of them family-owned, have been growing mushrooms here for more than 120 years.
Pennsylvania continues to lead the country in mushroom growing. Today, more than 60 percent of all mushrooms produced in the U.S. are grown in Kennett Square, southern Chester County, and the surrounding region, according to the American Mushroom Institute, headquartered in Avondale. In 2020, Agaricus mushroom volume of sales totaled 796 million pounds, with Pennsylvania accounting for 66 percent of the total.