Seniors, Let’s Go Mushrooming


Have you ever been mushroom hunting, senior friends? I have done it dozens of times in Iowa. Most of the time I get lucky and find a few spongy Morels, which are my favorites. We would not have any trouble finding mushrooms in Kennett Square, a borough in Chester County, Pennsylvania. Grab your coffee and let’s go…

The town, just off of Hwy 1, is known as the Mushroom Capital of the World. Over 51% of the nation’s mushroom crops are grown in southern Chester County. Mushroom farming in the region produces over a million pounds of mushrooms a week.


To celebrate this heritage, Kennett Square has an annual Mushroom Festival, where the town shuts down to have a parade, folks tour mushroom farms and have a good time. Now in its 29th year, the annual fest is expected to attract more than 100,000 mushroom aficionados. Highlights of this year’s festival include the National Fried Mushroom Eating Championship.

Seniors Discover Long Mushroom Growing History

Kennett Square’s founder is credited with introducing mushroom growing to the area. He grew carnations, a popular local commodity around 1885, and wanted to make use of the wasted space under the elevated beds. He imported spawn from Europe and started experimenting with mushroom cultivation.


Did you know that mushrooms grow from spores, not seeds, that are so tiny you can’t see individual spores with the naked eye? I know from visiting a mushroom grower that they prefer dark, cool, moist, and humid growing environments, so a dark cave with high humidity is a great place to grow them.

I learned that every 10 weeks, the beds inside the mushroom rooms are filled with compost mixed with spores, and covered with peat moss. The spores germinate and create a thick web of white threads called mycelia. Cocoa shells from a Hershey’s chocolate plant in Hershey, Pa., are just one ingredient in the compost that mushroom growers use to feed the fungi.

 We Could Grow Our Own…


Welcome to Phillips Mushroom Farm, in Kennet Square the largest grower of specialty mushrooms in the US. Now you can tell a Shitake from a Maitake or an Oyster from a Baby Bella.

We could drop by Kennet Square and the Mushroom Capital and pick up a kit to grow our own shitake and oyster mushrooms. Of course we could also purchase several varieties to take home.

Actually I think I’ll just head for the timber to find my beloved morels. jeb


  1. Morels are great but there’s another wonderful mushroom which is available from July 1 to the end of August called chanterelles. They are delicious, mostly bug-free and come up in the same spot year after year. Their golden color and unique shape make them easy to identify.

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