BF 149: Identification and Use of Mushrooms in Farms, Gardens, and Forests

Fungi for Food, Medicine, Materials, and Remediation

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Learn basic ID, species, life cycle, and potential applications of mushrooms to solve community level challenges

Mushrooms are a fascinating set of organisms that are part of the larger set of fungi which includes yeasts, molds, and a host of other species. They are quickly gaining popularity for a wide range of applications from food to medicine to cleaning up toxic pollutants.

This course offers an overview of foundational knowledge needed to understand how mushrooms might play a role in your farm and/or greater community.

Students will learn the basic biology and life cycle, how to properly harvest and identify a specimen, and receive basic information and examples of ways humans are using mushrooms successfully depending on their goals and context.

While not required, this course is an excellent starting point for anyone curious about mushrooms as a prerequisite to our cultivation deep-dive courses including BF 151: Outdoor Mushroom Growing, BF 153: Indoor Mushroom Growing, and BF 154: Community Mushroom Educator Training.

Target Audience

All levels - This course is for new farmers or experienced farmers seeking to diversify their operations. It’s also relevant to woodlot owners and backyard gardeners, and forest stewards interested in this topic. Growing as a viable economic enterprise will be discussed, though techniques can also be applied at any scale. Mushroom growing is an easy topic for beginners with some experience farming and managing crop systems.

Course Objectives

At the completion of this course, you will:

  • Be able to describe basic biology and life cycle of fungi and mushrooms
Know the proper process for safe harvest and identification 

  • Learn methods for propagating and cultivating mushrooms

  • Discover medicinal mushrooms and their uses

  • Consider applications of mushrooms for materials and remediation of toxins in the environment


The bulk of the course happens on your own time, with discussions, readings, and assignments in Teachable, our virtual classroom. To add to the experience, webinars will be woven into the online interface of the course to allow you to meet on a weekly basis to learn from outside presenters and ask questions to address your farm issues in real time. If you miss one, they are always recorded and posted for later viewing.

Webinar Schedule

Live instruction for 2022 has concluded. While we encourage live attendance so you have the opportunity to engage with the presenters and ask questions, all webinars are recorded and posted in your online classroom for students to watch anytime. Once you have enrolled in this course, you will retain access to all materials indefinitely, and can return to participate in the live webinars in future offerings of the course if you wish. Our next live session will be offered in Fall 2023. Please join us!

Your Instructor

Community Mushroom Educators
Community Mushroom Educators

Our Community Mushroom Educators (CMEs) come from a range of backgrounds, communities, and experiences with fungi and together co- facilitate each mushroom course offered through the Cornell Small Farms Program. The teaching team for each course includes a Cornell-affiliated co-facilitator (Steve Gabriel) and one to three CME co-facilitators that offer content and facilitate demos, activities, guest speakers, and more to provide a rich learning environment. All CMEs complete an initial training and are then supported to develop their facilitation skills in virtual and in-person events centered around mushroom education.

Course Curriculum

Frequently Asked Questions

When does the course start and finish?
The course officially starts on the date given above, when the instructor gets involved and begins hosting live weekly webinars. If you are registering after the webinars have concluded for the year, you will have immediate access to all the course materials, and will be able to participate in the next year's webinars if you choose to.
How long do I have access to the course?
How does lifetime access sound? After enrolling, you have unlimited access to this course for as long as you like - across any and all devices you own.
What if I am unhappy with the course?
We would never want you to be unhappy! If you are unsatisfied with your purchase, contact us in the first 7 days and we will give you a full refund.

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