Jerónimo Segura left his job as chief economist and assistant professor at the University of Wisconsin in 2018 because he was not happy. He imagined himself in some consulting job. But he found he had a lot of free time when the kids were at school or sleeping. He began to fill that time trying to grow mushrooms. He calculated how much his family was spending on mushrooms a week, and thought he could try growing his own for fun.
He began researching online how to grow mushrooms that grow in manure.
I found myself going out and looking for manure from our chickens to make this compost that these things were supposed to grow in but never grew. I just kept growing mold.
When that experiment failed, he turned away from forums on the Internet and began searching academic literature for better advice. He found a sustainable way to grow mushrooms used in developing countries.
People all over the world are growing mushrooms in some of the craziest conditions. In Southeast Asia, they grow them in bamboo huts. I thought that if they can farm in difficult socioeconomic conditions that are not necessarily very clean, I might have a chance to do it here.
This process involved a lime pasteurization method, rather than steam sterilization. Segura knew that the latter would not be an affordable option for him, as a lab could cost tens of thousands of dollars. He began using the lime cold pasteurization method to grow oyster mushrooms in wood pellets with sawdust (and not manure).
In its first months, it says that between 80 and 90% of the spores it planted failed. But now, he says, 98% of them have been successful.
Segura started sharing photos of her mushrooms on Facebook, and soon people started asking her if they could buy them from her. More and more clients, and what started as a hobby in his basement quickly grew into a thriving local business: Segura & Sons Mushroom Farm. Segura sells mushrooms to families through a CSA at local restaurants, as well as at his wife’s store.
When this adventure began, Segura claims that he never imagined it would become a viable business venture. I didn’t even know if there was a mushroom market in Wisconsin. But there was, and is now known as ” mushroom man ” in the city.
Suddenly, when people knew me as this economist, now they speak of me as mushroom man. I didn’t think I was going to be successful growing mushrooms, much less a mushroom farm.
More information: SeguraMushrooms