Rakhra Mushroom Farm in Alamosa, Colorado
exemplifies the phrase "where there's a will, there's
a way." Mushrooms love low-altitude and high-humidity
climates - attributes typically found in mushroom-growing
states like Pennsylvania and Texas, not in a little
valley tucked in the Colorado Rockies at 7,500 feet
above sea level. But since the 1980s, Alamosa has been
home to a now-thriving mushroom operation.
The San Luis Valley may not seem like
the best place to have a mushroom farm, It's way too
dry and normally receives about an inch of rain a year,
so an effort to adopt technology that comes from Europe,
and find ways to make compost that maximizes the capabilities
of the raw materials and better control the process."
The air Rakhra injects into the compost elevates the
growing area's oxygen level to mimic that of a lower
In perfecting this system, Rakhra achieved
a milestone in 2008 when it reached its highest productivity
rates. The company grew six pounds of mushrooms per
square foot of growing bed area, which amounts to 15
million pounds annually. It set that number as its benchmark
and has maintained it since.
The company also has added to its product
lines in 2008. Before, the company produced only white
mushrooms. Also known as button mushrooms, these are
white or beige with a smooth texture. They are popular
in recipes, but Rakhra's customers demanded variety.
Portabella and crimini mushrooms were added. There were
difficulties in purchasing from other farms, so Rakhra
began growing them.
The portabellas and criminis are grown
similarly to the white mushrooms, so the company easily
integrated the new products. The farm was simply divided
into rooms according to type for two reasons. The portabellas
and criminis are brown mushrooms that grow better in
a slightly warmer temperature than the white mushrooms.
Also, mushrooms tend to crossbreed easily.