Meet Your Rhode Island Mushroom Growers

RI Mushroom Co. and High Tide Mushroom Farm founders weigh in on the rich flavors and sustainable superpowers


Not every agriculture business starts with seeds and soil – some operate out of sterilizing autoclaves the size of tractor trailers and vast fruiting rooms to colonize all varieties of fungal wonders. Now a household name, RI Mushroom Co. put Rhode Island on the map for growing everything from Shiitakes to Pioppinos.

“I saw a hole in the market for mushrooms in the northeast, specifically in exotics. It was really interesting to me, the systems involved and the way you grow mushrooms,” begins RI Mushroom Co. CEO Michael Hallock. The Berklee music grad made a career leap from working at Columbia Records to getting his hands dirty learning the ins and outs of agriculture at Chase Farm in Middletown, then Farming Turtles in Exeter, and finally diving into mushroom cultivation in a closet at Middletown’s Sweet Berry Farm. “We’ve gone from 40 pounds a week to now we sell about 500,000 pounds of exotic mushrooms every week.”

Part of the legwork of getting a mushroom farm off the ground is helping consumers get over their fear of cooking with fungus. “I think people have the misconception that a mushroom’s a mushroom’s a mushroom, which isn’t true,” says Hallock. “When we first started selling at the farmers markets, I would give away Maitake to people who didn’t know what it was. They would all be repeat customers. It’s just that good.”

Hallock soon brought on a chef to develop recipes – and even worked for six months at the now-closed Loie Fuller in Providence to learn the trade – along with curating the Chef’s Mix. “I was looking for a way to connect and resonate with chefs,” says Hallock. “I could bring it in the backdoor of all of these restaurants and get to know the chefs and show them something they hadn’t seen. That ended up turning into our largest-selling retail item.”

A newer operation to the niche market, High Tide Mushroom Farm in Coventry has a mission of “growing sustainable, nutrient-dense, secure food networks,” explains founder Sam Morgan, “to showcase how practical mushroom cultivation can be as a regenerative food source, and also to display the practical uses of mycelium, which essentially are the ‘mushroom roots’ for our local land and water ways.”

Through the processes of mycoremediation and mycofiltration, not only are many mushrooms superfoods, but can also help fight pollution and purify water. “They’re incredibly versatile organisms that have the ability to absorb and break down a wide range of toxins, including petroleum products, heavy metals, plastics, and pesticides,” says Morgan. “The solution to a lot of our ecological issues has been hiding right under our feet the entire time!”

Not to mention, they taste delicious sauteed in butter and added to pizza, pasta, and any number of dishes. “If you look at the different varietals, like Maitake versus Lion’s Mane, it’s an entirely different flavor profile,” says Hallock. “Whereas a Maitake might have a really rich umami or meatier texture, Lion’s Mane mimics a lighter flavor like a seafood; it even has a different mouthfeel.”

“Mushrooms can be roasted, grilled, and fried,” shares Morgan. “The type you choose may depend on the dish you’re making. For example, Oyster mushrooms tend to have a delicate umami taste, and Chestnut mushrooms have a nutty and rich flavor. The possibilities are endless.”


Mushrooms on the Menu

Here’s just a handful of many statewide restaurants sourcing mushrooms from nearby farms:


Mushroom Bourgeoning over Polenta

Amaryllis, Providence


Petite Filet Mignon

Celestial Cafe, Exeter


Hand-Rolled Cavatelli

Hunky Dory, Warren


Butternut Squash & Mushroom Tacos

La Vecina Taqueria, Newport


Mapo Mushroom

New Wave Kitchen, Wakefield


Mushroom Grilled Cheese

Nicks on Broadway, Providence


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