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Mousam Valley Mushrooms: Proprietary Technology & Customized Controllers

"We are a certified organic mushroom farm in Springvale, Maine. Our focus is on specialty mushrooms." - Emily Sharood Dickinson

Oyster mushrooms

The Mousam River runs just over 25 miles, emptying into the Atlantic Ocean in Kennebunkport, Maine. It flows through lakes and into an estuary - home to several native bird species, fish, and plant life. Upstream, the river is home to Brown and Brook Trout, ecological sites, and local farms feeding their communities throughout southern Maine. Up the road in Springvale is an organically certified mushroom farm run by the Sharood family. What started as a concept and senior thesis in Robert Sharood’s basement became a USDA organically certified specialty mushroom farm named Mousam Valley Mushrooms. 

Mousam Valley Mushrooms

“Mousam” - The Grandfather” Of Organically Grown

Mousam Valley Mushroom's genesis all began when Rob and his sister Emily approached their dad, John, with a proposal to build a specialty mushroom enterprise. They proposed a concept where they create a business that uses an agro-environmental approach to growing a delicious and healthy food source. Before John agreed to invest time and money into the project, they approached and pitched two large grocers, Hannaford Brothers Market and Whole Foods and they both jumped at the opportunity to buy their products. From there, they grew that start-up into an enterprise shipping mushrooms as far south as Delaware. The new founders of their specialty mushroom farm needed a much larger facility to grow the product and sought it out in Mousam Valley.  

Robert found and secured a 12-acre dairy farm with two large barns to build out an operation large enough to handle the scale of Whole Foods and Hannaford Brothers Market. The leaseholders of the farm, The Carpenters, own the old Carpenter Dairy, which milked Ashire cows but unfortunately closed in the late 1960s. Once there was interest and collaboration, the families decided to work together to preserve the land, only to be designated for agricultural purposes moving forward, which made it possible for local community members to drive on-farm and pick up organic products. While the focus of a large operation still affords them the food security and traceability needed to run their farm and packing house. 


Mushroom Production and Varieties 

As background, Emily shared that Rob, who runs the operations, outsources the purchase of inoculated logs and spores from Maine Cap N’ Stem and North Spore for Shiitake, which is close to 90% of their production.  The mycelium grows out for about 30 days, and once the Shiitake fruit - they begin to unfurl and show their gills. Once harvested, the Mousam Mushroom team picks, cleans, weighs, packs, and sorts - it takes them about 24-48 hours to land at the local grocer, using Native Maine as a distribution partner.  Mousam Valley Mushrooms also grow Italian Oyster, Pink Oyster, Katahdin Oyster, Butter Oyster, Lion's Mane, Cinnamon Caps, Velvet Pioppino, King Oyster, Maitake, King Oyster, and Chaga


Precision Climate Control and Technology Solutions 

The team focuses on building and creating the right indoor microclimates and environments for their various mushrooms. For example, the Sharoods built an environment likened to rainy spring and fall seasonality to grow the best log-inoculated indoor Shiitake. It takes a balanced technical environment that is precise and flexible enough to counterbalance any external climate changes. Navigating temperature, humidity, and CO2 is key to management. John’s background is in industrial software and technical development, where he built flexible and accurate HVAC systems for large plants. 

John used his commercial and industrial technology skills to establish a program and design a proprietary remote solution with a dashboard, sensor technology, and versatile electrical controller system to manage the diverse climates required to grow mushrooms. The Maine Technical Institute (MTI) collaborated with the farm as a consultant and a funding source for the technology. With a $150,000 investment from MTI, the team was able to build the project with the help of John Sharood, Alec Mackenzie, and Brian Richards, a local HVAC specialist involved from the onset. Farms everywhere can leverage this technology to compete with large-scale operations and distribution models. 

Controller System

Organic Certification

Mousam Valley Mushrooms is United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Certified Organic and Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association, Organically Certified Organic (MOFGA). To certify for organic status, a farmer must go through the rigors of certification in a 5-step process:

  1.  The farmer must develop, in writing, a system plan once the land is free of all substances for atleast three years. This plan must align with USDA organic standards. 

  2. Once written, secure a certified agent to work with you to ensure the plan's integrity and process flow. 

  3. An accredited agent must complete the inspection and will review your process flows and systems documentation on-site. 

  4. Inspection reports must be audited and signed off during the review. The plan will be compared to the actual plan and lot tracing for verification.  

  5. Certificate issuance takes place once all the criteria have been met. The farm must undergo a rigorous annual inspection before renewing and issuing the certificate. 

Mousam Valley Mushrooms goes through this rigor each year and recommends that if you are considering starting a specialty mushroom farm, lead with an organic plan upfront because conversion is more rigorous than a fresh start-up process.  

Certified Organic

Substrates and Composting 

Mousam Valley Mushrooms is strictly organic and does not use chemical pesticides. They are a high production facility and accumulate a lot of substrate, which they set aside for atleast six months to aerobically decompose for their buyers and local community members to pick up and use for local farming operations or spreading on freshly seeded lawns at golf courses, apple orchards, and local Community Supported Agriculture where they can use the application of mushroom compost and compost tea. 

SOil Composting

Growth In The Marketplace 

When speaking with their head of sales and market development, Emily Sharood - she explained their goals to add wholesale and commercial kitchen businesses to their list of client development opportunities are top on the list for 2024. There are many ways to work with Mousam Valley Mushroom; a great example is to purchase their seconds or leftovers for making soups and stews or a grocery kitchen that makes food for the masses—chefs offering specialty mushroom dishes in a value-added fashion, to the overall marketplace. 


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