by Brad Clark Schmidt
Scott Lyons knows his mushrooms. The chief executive officer of Sublicious Farms has been successfully growing gourmet organic blue, pink, and yellow oyster mushrooms in an unlikely location since 2011: a warehouse in Broward County.
Now he’s looking to take his environment-defying techniques to farmers and fungus-lovers who live well beyond South Florida.
Starting out with a home-based organic composting company, Lyons worked for years to perfect a growing medium that would maximize mushroom production while operating within sustainable farming practices.
The resulting proprietary formula formed the basis for Sublicious Farms, which, in just five years, has outgrown a 9,000-sqare-foot warehouse and is moving to an acre of land on Sunshine Meadows Farm in Delray Beach.
The keys to being able to grow mushrooms successfully in such diverse environments in South Florida are the 53-foot-long refrigerated shipping containers that Lyons designed to act as fruiting chambers. Outfitted with fans, lights, temperature controls, and wheels, these Sublicious Farms containers are self-contained growing incubators that are ready to be trucked to any location and begin producing organic mushrooms.
Compost is environmentally friendly
Each $25,000 container includes enough colonized grow bags to get started immediately, and Lyons said that a single unit can produce 800 pounds of mushrooms a month. Once the mushrooms are harvested, the remaining compost can be used by the grower for other crops – or Sublicious will buy it back, while providing fresh grow bags to begin the cycle again.
Currently concentrating on oyster mushrooms, Sublicious plans to add shiitake and other varieties to its offerings.
Asked about the health-and-wellness properties of some species, Lyons explained that, this summer, Sublicious will be joined by an expert in the field who will help to expand the offerings to include many of these sought-after mushrooms.
In the meantime, Sublicious will continue to offer substrate and other growing supplies to local farmers, and to supply local restaurants with Sublicious Farms-grown mushrooms. The company also will work to transition to its new location in Delray Beach.
After the move, distribution of the sustainable growing platform will begin in the United States. Lyons said that his venture also will work on exporting its technology.
In a bid to move forward faster, Sublicious Farms has set up a Kickstarter project to raise funds. For more information about Sublicious Farms, visit subfarms.com.