Female Log Grower State’s First
“I can do anything a man can do, when it comes to farming,” says Linda Stephen, a registered nurse, from Louisville, Mississippi, during a March 7 visit to the Alcorn State University Lorman campus.
According to the United States Department of Agriculture, a farmer with 200 logs or more is considered a mushroom grower. Being inspired to grow mushrooms — through her attendance at the 2016 Agricultural Field Day in Preston, Mississippi — Stephen has become the first female mushroom grower in the state of Mississippi.
“Alcorn State University’s Extension Program has helped me by supplying the knowledge and tools for the labor from start to finish, and all the way to production,” expresses Stephen.
Stephen came to Alcorn to acquire additional research on mushroom production. She was given a tour by Dr. Frank Mrema, forester/mycology specialist, School of Agriculture and Applied Sciences, which consisted of visits to the Alcorn State Experiment Station and Goat and Meat Facility.
With harvested mushrooms, Stephen attends conferences and workshops throughout the state to encourage farmers to invest in mushroom production. Shiitake mushrooms, which are inoculated and grown on sweet gum logs, have various medicinal benefits, such as, preventing chronic diseases, boosting the immune system, and fighting obesity.
“Not many people know the importance of mushrooms and their medicinal benefits. The Alcorn Experiment Station is trying to get farmers to realize that,” states Mrema.
In addition to growing mushrooms, Stephen grows apples, plums, strawberries, blueberries, string beans, beats, onions, and cabbage all for personal use.
To everyone, Stephen advises, “Get rid of the word can’t, and just do it.”
KeAmber Council, student media intern, contributed to this story.