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Hockessin mushroom farming family's roots run deep

John R. Stinson & Sons, Inc.
White button mushrooms from the Stinson family farm.


Kennett Square, Pennsylvania has long been known as the “Mushroom Capital of the World.” But its annual festival– which started in 1986 – includes Delaware mushroom growers too.


Randy Stinson is a second-generation mushroom farmer for John R Stinson & Sons, Inc. started by his father in 1959. He says he’s one of the only remaining original mushroom growers in Delaware.


He is following in his father’s footsteps, managing the family mushroom company with help from his 33-year-old son.

Randy grew up helping his dad as a young boy.


“I’m the oldest son. I started going around with him pretty much when I was three and four years old, by the time I could get around on my own," Stinson said. "But if I wasn’t in school, I was always with my dad.”


Randy’s two younger brothers are also still involved in the maintenance of the farm.


Randy said at that time, brown portobella and baby bella mushrooms were among the mushrooms his father grew.


“Appearance wise, they’re almost the same as a white button other than they’re brown and their taste is a little bit stronger," Stinson said.


But now, the Stinson farm grows and sells only white button mushrooms that became popular in the fresh mushroom markets and are the leading mushroom seller in the U.S. today.


Stinson said that every week, 24,000 square feet of mushrooms are harvested. That comes out to about 7.5 million pounds produced and sold every year.

Credit John R. Stinson & Sons, Inc.
White button mushrooms grow on the Stinson's family mushroom farm.


All mushrooms are grown inside in a climate-controlled setting, which Stinson said mushroom-festival goers will have a chance to observe this weekend.


“After we put the peat moss on the bed, my ceiling grows up through the peat moss and we start and introduce fresh air to keep certain moisture levels and it will start to pull together and form little pinheads, we call them," Stinson said. "They’re actually baby mushrooms.”


Stinson says from the time the mushrooms are seen starting to come out of the ground from the time they’re ready to be harvested is as short as eight or nine days.


He added that mushrooms can double in size in as short as twenty-four hours.


Stinson said the entire process – from the time compost is put into mushroom houses to the time the crop is harvested – takes about eleven weeks.


Stinson’s participated in the Mushroom Festival the past several years.

He'll play the role of a handyman (and jack-of-all-trades) at the festival this year.




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