I wanted to build Mississippi Mushrooms into a company capable of providing quality and healthy produce for the Twin Cities, and also to provide jobs and resources to people involved with urban agriculture. Mississippi Mushrooms recently moved out of my home and into a warehouse in NE Minneapolis where we expect to produce between 300-400lbs of fresh mushrooms a week (in comparison with 20 lb/week at my house).
I have brought on two interns and expect to be able to pay wages by mid to late summer. We are also working with urban farmers to provide high quality compost for their operations. We built up our substrate sources and have developed substrate recipes that are entirely composed of waste byproducts from other local businesses! (Wood shavings, sawdust and chips, coffee chaff, spent brewers grain). This summer, we will be expanding into new markets and will be present at two farmers markets. Looking back, I can see that receiving the MicroGrant was crucial for allowing the business to grow at an early stage. At the time I was struggling to keep up with improving the growing space, and also paying all the bills.
Even worse, the amount of time and money the company demanded meant that I was also struggling to keep up with my personal finances. So before I received the funds I was faced with a problem: I could find more work to pay for everything the company needed, or I could make my hours available for building the company. I had time or money, but not both. While one thousand dollars really isn’t a lot of money, at the time it made a world of difference. The grant kept the company solvent and provided the financial flexibility so that I could spend time and money on the company, and I think it probably helped me to keep up with projects for at least two months! Looking back, I am convinced that without the MicroGrant Mississippi Mushrooms would be at least three months behind our current progress and have fewer connections with other companies and resources. The MicroGrant was a blessing, and I am looking forward to one day contributing back into the program!