The Rapidian Home

Mushrooms keep growing at The Urban Mushroom

Mary Ann Faulkner, new owner of the local purveyor of the indoor-grown mushrooms, has expanded farmers market sales and keeps her focus on education and serving her customers.
Mary Ann Faulkner, owner of The Urban Mushroom

Mary Ann Faulkner, owner of The Urban Mushroom /Caitlin Hoop

Underwriting support from:

Where to find Mary Ann and her mushrooms:

The Urban Mushroom

2345 Chicago Drive SW


Follow The Urban Mushroom on Facebook.


Find Mary Ann at the Fulton Street Farmers Market every Friday and Saturday.


Golden Oyster mushrooms

Golden Oyster mushrooms /Caitlin Hoop

More mushrooms growing.

More mushrooms growing. /Caitlin Hoop

Mary Ann Faulkner, new owner of The Urban Mushroom, is regarded as the “Rocker Mushroom Chick” by her customers at the Fulton Street Farmers Market. Little do they know, she actually has years of experience not only in the food industry but in the music industry as well. 

“I was in the music industry and was on tour for 15 years. Then I had kids and moved to Michigan,” she says. “And here I am growing mushrooms.”

Her venture into farmers markets started eight years ago, when she started growing heirloom tomatoes. When she first moved here, she noticed a void in the market for available quality tomatoes. So she grew them herself. That grew into a full blown produce stand for the next seven years. When blight struck her tomato crops two years in a row, Faulkner knew it was time to move on. Having always been a fan of mushrooms, this past spring she took it upon herself to learn all she could this fungus. 

As Grand Rapids has been experiencing a quiet food revolution, with a growth not only in diversity of food choice as well as a demand for whole natural foods, local farmers and entrepreneurs have been making use of the temperate climate and plentiful rainfall in West Michigan. The region has long been a source for fruits and vegetables, and recently a new food option has opened up for food lovers to try: mushrooms.

“I had heard of a group of guys growing mushrooms indoors, and I knew I had to meet them,” Faulkner says. “So I basically inserted myself in their lives and worked at The Urban Mushroom for free in the beginning.” 

Last spring, The Urban Mushroom premiered its mushroom CSA and began offering its members high quality organic mushrooms at restaurant prices, and selling to restaurants. The founders of Urban Mushroom taught Faulkner all about growing mushrooms and in exchange she taught them all about the value of the farmers market. Through developing their business at the farmers markets around town, she quickly became the face of the company to many local customers.

“I love chatting with my customers and building relationships,” she says. “I have been having 60% repeat business week to week at the market. I am invested in them.”

Faulkner’s level of commitment was tested this fall when through a turn of events the business became solely hers. 

“I was committed to The Urban Mushroom but I didn’t know if I was capable.” she says. “But how could I walk away from my customers?” 

Jumping in head first as the sole owner and employee, she has experienced nothing but growth. Faulkner has built relationships with more and more restaurants around town who have become repeat customers. Her level of consistency and dedication to her product is key. Faulkner sells her mushrooms not only at the farmers market, but also through Relish Green Grocer, Farmlink, West Michigan Co-op, a winter CSA as well as from her brick and mortar growing room. 

“I will drive just about anywhere to bring people mushrooms, and I also allow people to come to me and buy directly,” she says. “I will go to any lengths to provide people with these awesome products.”

Often, what her new customers want to chat with her about are the three regular questions: Are mushrooms poisonous? Are they psychadelic? Do you have morels?

Faulkner, now a professional grower, says they answers are more complex than yes or no. The majority of mushrooms found locally are not poisonous, although she says people should not eat mushrooms they are unsure about and learning to identify mushrooms is definitely a skill. The mushrooms for sale via The Urban Mushroom, however, are grown organically from identified spore in a proprietary mix that can include a variety of ingredients including sawdust, cottonseed hulls, or coffee grounds.

Growing mushrooms to maturity is a three-month process that requires regular misting - three times a day. Faulkner uses a backpack mister and is up at 2 A.M. every day to make sure her mushrooms have the moisture they need to grow. As such, Faulkner knows exactly what her product is and what went into it; it’s not poisonous or psychedelic, and currently it isn’t morels either- she says with a certain glimmer in her eye.

A woman with a vision, Faulkner strives to educate more people about this superfood. She prioritizes her goals as for The Urban Mushroom as: education, promotion and sales, putting community outreach before profit because she wants to share her love for mushrooms with others.

Being the only mushroom grower in West Michigan, she is ahead of the curve. Currently she grows a wide range of mushrooms such as oyster, maitake, lion’s mane and shitake mushrooms. Since the mushrooms are grown indoors, Faulkner can provide Grand Rapidians with mushrooms all year round, which is practically unheard of in the Midwest. For those who forage for wild mushrooms, the season only lasts from spring to the early fall.

“It’s all grown indoors, which extends the virility of the mushrooms and also is much more biologically efficient,” she says. “There is no dirt or bugs to fight against. How could it not be successful?”

Not to mention the mushrooms taste phenomenal. 

“I see the glow in their faces when people try my mushrooms for the first time,” she explains. “They become addicted.” 

The Rapidian, a program of the 501(c)3 nonprofit Community Media Center, relies on the community’s support to help cover the cost of training reporters and publishing content.

We need your help.

If each of our readers and content creators who values this community platform help support its creation and maintenance, The Rapidian can continue to educate and facilitate a conversation around issues for years to come.

Please support The Rapidian and make a contribution today.

Comments, like all content, are held to The Rapidian standards of civility and open identity as outlined in our Terms of Use and Values Statement. We reserve the right to remove any content that does not hold to these standards.