Mushrooms are Sweeping the World of Urban Farming

More and more people are discovering the magic of growing mushrooms at home.

Mushroom growing on windowsill in urban farming

(FotoHelin /

2020 saw the domestic arts make a roaring comeback, as people spent more time indoors. At-home hobbies, such as cooking and gardening, have been enjoying a major revival in popularity.

According to the BBC, sales of seeds and gardening accessories have skyrocketed over the last year, and a survey from supermarket Tesco found that the number of people cooking meals at home from scratch has spiked. 

Riding the momentum of these back-to-basics movements, there’s a hot new trend winning over at-home hobbyists, one that combines the best of the gardening and culinary worlds. Mushroom growing has become more popular than ever before, with a study showing the market worth a staggering peak of $16.7 billion in 2020.

Michael Crowe, an Arizona-based entrepreneur and fungi enthusiast, has sold at-home grow kits since 2017. But with the advent of the pandemic, he’s seen sales soar. It “just blew up,” he told The Guardian. “It seemed like everybody, everybody was looking to grow mushrooms.”

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Crowe said that his customers often send him progress photos of their fledgling fungi, and added that taking up mushroom growing as a hobby can give people a sense of community. “It’s just so cool because it can bring together people of all ages, from all walks of life and people all over the place can grow food and have a really good time learning about it,” he said.

But the benefits of mushroom growing go beyond making new friends. From a mental health perspective, the act of gardening can provide a major boost. A Preventive Medicine Reports meta-analysis concluded that people who regularly garden experienced a lessening of anxiety and depression. With the barrier to entry so low - water and a knife are pretty much the only requirements to get started - it’s easy for aspiring mycologists to start growing.

Growing an edible crop can be empowering, helping restore and strengthen a person’s sense of agency during unpredictable times. “Sustainability and self-reliance are trending, which perfectly explains an increasing demand for mushroom grow kits,” registered dietician Erin Hendrickson told Modern Farmer. Mushroom cultivation can serve as a natural starting point for people interested in exploring growing more of their food at home.

Unlike most crops, mushrooms have a distinctly dramatic, dynamic growing process. People don’t have to wait for months to see the fruit of their labor, as the fungi are incredibly responsive and develop quickly when placed in the right conditions. This makes mushroom growing especially exciting for families with children.

“I buy [mushroom growing kits] for the novelty and for observing the grow patterns because they’re so diverse and interesting – it piques this childlike wonder,” at-home grower Jenn Xu told The Guardian. “If you look away for two hours and look back, it’s doubled in size.”

As people embrace the simple joys of cooking and gardening, mushroom growing is the perfect blend of culinary and green pursuits. Whether it’s a creamy, wavy oyster mushroom or a long-stemmed Enoki, there’s something magical about the fungi’s aesthetic that resonates with millions all over the world. With growing kits poised to continue capturing the hearts of adults and children alike, it seems that this trend is here to stay.

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