Barters and Small Business: Finding and Selling Wild Mushrooms

The Barters and Bootstraps column shares success stories of people who barter and open small business ventures, includes stories about finding wild mushrooms and selling mushrooms for profit.

| April/May 1996

The Barters and Bootstraps column shares success stories in barters and small business ventures. (See the photos and mushroom illustrations in the image gallery.)

Barters and Small Business Success Stories

If someone were to tell you that you could be making $200, $300, or even $500 a day picking mushrooms, your first thought might be: "Are these the same kind that were passed around campus 20 years ago?" Not to worry. Commercial trading in wild edible and decidedly non-psychedelic mushrooms has grown tremendously in the last ten years. A little research, attention to detail, a willingness to learn, and some woods sense are all you need to become proficient in this trade. The most prolific commercial activity occurs in the Northwest, but there are marketable mushrooms in virtually every area of North America, and pickers at the height of the season can make thousands of dollars in your own small business venture.

I am often asked, "If these mushrooms are so valuable, why isn't somebody growing them in their barn?" Some, such as the shiitake mushroom, can be cultivated, however, the mushrooms listed here are generally mycorrhizal in nature. In other words, they are dependent upon the root system of the trees that they are growing under. If you can figure out a way to duplicate those roots in a barn, you'll make a fortune. Until then, we've just got to get out there and find them.

Getting Started in Your Wild Mushroom Small Business 

Do not attempt to go out and pick a mushroom to eat without getting someone knowledgeable to confirm identification of that species. Picking and eating without proper study is literally a prescription for disaster, given the number of poisonous varieties that often look perplexingly like their culinary counterparts. If you do not know anyone who can help, contact the North American Mycological Association in Ann Arbor, MI. They have chapters all over the country with many people willing to help out. Turn to the next page in this issue for a brief guide to some of the market favorites.

If you are in an area like the Northwest where much commercial activity occurs, it would behoove you to find a buying station to see what species they are taking in. Most buyers will purchase more than one species even though they are in a particular area for a particular mushroom. These buying stations are much like clearinghouses of information, and good places to track down pickers coming out of the brush to ask them some questions. Don't bother asking a mushroom picker exactly where his patch is; you are likely to get directions to the local dump. Mushroom patches are closely guarded secrets, especially as some species produce in the same spot year after year.

8/18/2018 5:03:29 PM

Sorry if this post keeps poping up i had to rewrite this over and over because when i hit share it would kick me off and not showed me it shared .

8/18/2018 4:36:17 PM

Hello i just got 12 pounds of chicken of the woods but dont know where or how to sell im in sissonville West Virginia if you come get ill do $13 a pound my number is 1304 202 1516 my email is cyberpug8969@gmail.Com just let me know and if yall shroom heads know any tips of where i can sell please let me know. I will work with you on price.

8/7/2018 7:26:19 AM

Hello! My name is Rebecca and I am looking for a buyer of chanterelle mushrooms. I am located in the Tri State area of NY/NJ/PA. Call or text, my cell phone number is 914-850-3424 and my email is I am also able to ship them anywhere in the United States.

mother earth news fair 2018 schedule


Next: September 14-16, 2018
Seven Springs, PA

Whether you want to learn how to grow and raise your own food, build your own root cellar, or create a green dream home, come out and learn everything you need to know — and then some!


Subscribe Today - Pay Now & Save 64% Off the Cover Price

Money-Saving Tips in Every Issue!

Mother Earth NewsAt MOTHER EARTH NEWS, we are dedicated to conserving our planet's natural resources while helping you conserve your financial resources. You'll find tips for slashing heating bills, growing fresh, natural produce at home, and more. That's why we want you to save money and trees by subscribing through our earth-friendly automatic renewal savings plan. By paying with a credit card, you save an additional $5 and get 6 issues of MOTHER EARTH NEWS for only $12.95 (USA only).

You may also use the Bill Me option and pay $17.95 for 6 issues.

Canadian Subscribers - Click Here
International Subscribers - Click Here
Canadian subscriptions: 1 year (includes postage & GST).

Facebook Pinterest Instagram YouTube Twitter flipboard