Mason farm struggles to find customers as restaurants close

  • Brad Ikenberry and Amy Joyce of Mason have been forced to halt production of their gourmet mushroom operation, Joyberry Farms, as the restaurants they sell directly to have reduced their demand dramatically. Courtesy photos—

  • Brad Ikenberry and Amy Joyce of Mason have been forced to halt production of their gourmet mushroom operation, Joyberry Farms, as the restaurants they sell directly to have reduced their demand dramatically. Courtesy photos—

  • Brad Ikenberry and Amy Joyce of Mason have been forced to halt production of their gourmet mushroom operation, Joyberry Farms, as the restaurants they sell directly to have reduced their demand dramatically. Courtesy photos—

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Published: 3/26/2020 3:44:04 PM

Restaurants closing and reducing services has left suppliers without a place to sell their wares.

Brad Ikenberry and Amy Joyce, of Joyberry Farms in Mason, have been farming full-time only a short time, jumping in with both feet into raising gourmet mushrooms after the birth of their first child last year.

The farm raises a variety of mushrooms, including shiitake, Lions Mane, Blue Oyster, Yellow Oyster, Pink Oyster, and Phoenix Oyster. They sell their mushrooms at a variety of farmer’s markets, but the majority of their business has been direct sales to nearby restaurants. 

Business was going well, and the two were planning to increase their production this year by nearly half. That is, until the coronavirus hit, and restaurants, where they sell about 80 percent of their crops, suddenly had a much lower need for their product.

“We've had a huge setback. Almost instantaneously, our revenue stream ceased,” Ikenberry said.

Ikenberry said they’ve paused production for now, but because mushrooms take weeks to mature, crop is still coming in and Joyberry Farms is sitting on pounds of mushrooms with nowhere to sell them. 

A few of their regular Farmers Markets are still operating, and Ikenberry said the community has stepped up to put in individual orders, and Barrett Hill Farm in Mason has offered to pair mushroom orders with the customers who purchase meat from them. Ikenberry said he has been delivering individual orders all week.

“It's making a dent. A couple hundred bucks a day has really helped us get through our week,” Ikenberry said.

Some mushrooms can be dehydrated, but with 300 pounds of mushrooms coming in per week, it’s not enough to close the gap caused by the restaurant shut-downs.

Ikenberry said those community orders have been getting his family through the week since this started, but he fears it won’t be sustainable.

“The unknown is how long is this going to last, and we don’t know what it’s going to look like in the weeks and early months after the ban is lifted,” Ikenberry said. 

For more information about Joyberry Farms, or to contact them for an order, visit Joyberry Farms on Facebook or www.joyberryfarms.com.

 

Ashley Saari can be reached at 924-7172 ext. 244 or asaari@ledgertranscript.com. She’s on Twitter @AshleySaariMLT.


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