There are a number of shipping container farms that are designed to grow herbs, lettuce, and other small plants, but now there are also ready-to-grow mushroom farm shipping containers.
Ready-to-Grow Mushroom Farm Shipping Containers
Farmbox Foods has developed a gourmet mushroom farm that is installed inside of a shipping container, and I for one, am excited. I’ve been growing oyster, shiitake, and lion’s mane mushroom as a hobby for a few years at a very small scale. I’ve been using a technique to grow mushrooms in buckets with hay or wood chips or other organic matter as a growing medium for the mycelium (mycelium is kind of like the roots of the mushroom typically called the vegetative part of the fungus, while the mushroom itself is the “fruiting body” of the fungus), but creating the right environment for growth can be challenging.
Shipping container farms are a form of Controlled Environment Agriculture (CEA), so it makes sense that the environmental controls used for growing plants could be adapted to growing mushrooms. Of course, the specific growing equipment is also significantly different than when growing plants indoors vs. mushrooms indoors. Though there have been some attempts at using hydroponic systems to grow mushrooms, there’s really not a need for a hydroponic set up that you typically see for growing plants indoors. Mushrooms don’t require light to grow, (though at certain stages in the growing cycle light is beneficial – and it also depends on the type of mushroom) so grow lights aren’t required.
Money to Be Made
Farmbox has stated that their mushroom shipping container farm is laid out to produce 400 pounds of mushrooms per week in a 320 sqft space. Assuming that is mostly oyster mushrooms and that the price per pound for wholesale stays around $6 per pound ($12 per pound retail), then you could generate $2,400 (or $4,800 retail) per WEEK from one mushroom farm shipping container!
Since this is a piece of hardware, then a commercial property owner would need to rent out a micro-property to the mushroom farmer. The CRE owner would then make money on the lease and their tenants could enjoy fresh mushroom year round. Of course, the farmer would make money from selling mushrooms to the tenants and nearby restaurants, grocery stores, farmers markets, etc. Micro-properties can be found through the micro-property listing search.
A Few Pioneers
FarmBox isn’t the first company to create mushroom farm shipping containers, but it appears to be the only company that is selling a turn-key farm. Green Box Mushrooms received funding through an agricultural lending platform called Steward to create their own shipping container farm for mushrooms. Though there are a great many indoor mushroom growing facilities around the world, there are only a few others that have realized the benefits of converting a shipping container into a mushroom farm.
In the UK, there is an urban mushroom farm called The Mushroom Garden, and in the US there is Haw River Mushrooms. Since shipping container farms can be placed fairly easily in urban areas, a mushroom farm in your neighborhood could crop up at any moment.
Location, Location, Location
If you’re thinking about starting your own shipping container farm, remember that just like in any other form of real estate, location is super important in micro real estate – especially for a shipping container farm. And it’s not just what building or parking lot something is it, but also where in that building or parking lot that can make all of the difference.
What Equipment is Inside a Shipping Container Mushroom Farm?
A shipping container mushroom farm typically includes the following equipment:
- Grow lights to provide the necessary light for the mushrooms to grow
- Climate control systems to maintain the temperature, humidity, and carbon dioxide levels within the container
- Air filtration systems to remove contaminants and maintain air quality
- Irrigation systems to provide water to the mushrooms
- Shelves or racks to hold the mushroom growing trays
- A generator to provide power to the equipment
- An insulated container to maintain the optimal growing conditions.
Do Mushrooms Really Need Grow Lights to Grow?
Mushrooms do not require sunlight to grow and can be grown indoors with artificial light. However, the type of light used can affect the growth and quality of the mushrooms.
Mushrooms require a specific spectrum of light that is different from the light needed for plants. The light spectrum required for mushroom cultivation is in the blue and ultraviolet range. Grow lights that emit in this range can be used to provide the necessary light for mushroom growth.
Additionally, mushroom cultivation typically requires a dark period to promote fruiting, so the grow lights need to be turned off during this time.
That being said, there are some mushroom species that can grow with natural light, but are usually grown indoors to have a better control of the growing conditions and to get a more consistent crop.
There are several types of grow lights that are suitable for growing mushrooms, including:
- Fluorescent lights: T5 and T8 fluorescent lights are commonly used in mushroom cultivation because they emit light in the blue and ultraviolet range that mushrooms need. These lights are also energy-efficient and have a long lifespan.
- LED lights: LED lights are also a popular choice for mushroom cultivation because they emit light in the specific spectrum required for mushroom growth. They are also energy-efficient and have a long lifespan. Some LED lights are specifically designed for mushroom cultivation and can be adjusted to simulate different stages of the growth cycle.
- High-intensity discharge (HID) lights: HID lights such as metal halide and high-pressure sodium lamps are also used in mushroom cultivation. These lights emit a broad spectrum of light and are more powerful than fluorescent or LED lights, but they also consume more energy and have a shorter lifespan.
- Incandescent lights: these are not recommended as they don’t emit the right spectrum of light and also consume a lot of energy.
It’s worth noting that the type of light that is best for a specific mushroom cultivation setup will depend on factors such as the size of the growing area, the number of mushrooms being grown, and the desired yield. Consulting with an expert or doing research on the specific needs of the mushroom species you want to grow is recommended.
What types of irrigation systems can be used to grow mushrooms?
There are several types of irrigation systems that can be used to provide water to mushrooms, including:
- Drip irrigation: This method uses a network of tubing and emitters to deliver water directly to the base of the mushroom growing trays. This method is efficient and can help to conserve water.
- Flood and drain: This method uses a tray or bed to hold the mushroom growing trays, which are periodically flooded with water and then drained. This method is also efficient and can help to promote the growth of mushrooms.
- Ebb and flow: This method is similar to flood and drain, but uses a pump and timer to control the flow of water. This method is also efficient and can help to promote the growth of mushrooms.
- Hand watering: This method is the most simple, it consist of watering the mushrooms by hand. This method is not recommended for large scale production but can work well for small scale or hobby cultivation.
- Mist irrigation: This method uses a misting nozzle or a fine spray to apply water to the mushrooms. This method can help to maintain the humidity levels required for mushroom growth.
The type of irrigation system that is best for a specific mushroom cultivation setup (morel mushrooms are tough to grow) will depend on factors such as the size of the growing area, the number of mushrooms being grown, and the desired yield. Consulting with an expert or doing research on the specific needs of the mushroom species you want to grow is recommended.