To Premier Mushrooms, sustainability means increasing awareness of the impacts associated with our growing operation and taking action to reduce them without sacrificing our high standards for quality. In 2011, the company hired it's first Sustainability Coordinator to help spearhead the program. Efforts have focused on setting baselines and tracking resource usage for Key Performance Indicators. From this comes a better understanding of our operation and the ability to begin establishing performance goals.

Wastewater Recovery

Premier Mushroom's facility has been built to capture all waste-water that results from farming operations. A complex system of underground utility lines diverts farm water to a "Goody Pond" located on-site. This pond contains nutrient rich wastewater that is re-used as an input to the composting system. The benefit of this system isn't just maximizing the life-cycle of on-site water, but also providing our compost with a supercharged source of hydration. All the bugs that are created proliferate in the goody pond, and by default, foster a nutrient rich environment on the compost.

Energy Efficiency

Mushroom growing is a very energy intensive process due to the high level of technology and equipment required to grow product that is of top quality, while satisfying increasing customer demand. Premier Mushrooms has steadily reduced its consumption of electricity in growing and production since 2008. To date, 2,721,252 kWh have been avoided through the installation of ballast lighting, refrigeration retrofits and strip curtains to prevent the escape of cold air.

One of the farm’s largest energy culprits is the cooling system, which must keep grow-rooms at a steady 65 degrees year round. Naturally, this is where we decided to focus our initial efforts. In the beginning of 2012 Premier entered into discussions with PG&E’s energy department who determined that our usage could be drastically reduced. After analyzing several different models, we purchased a high-efficiency centrifugal chiller that would trump our current cooling system.

Integrated Recycling

Premier Mushrooms has taken several steps to reduce the impact its growing and production processes have on the environment. The mushroom growing process itself is naturally a very closed-loop system and complements additional sustainability efforts. Inputs to the composting process are all recycled materials while the outputs are mushrooms, spent compost, and water. The mushrooms are sold and the ones unfit for production are recycled back into the composting process. However, this is not limited to organic wastes.

Recycling is one of the most fundamental practices a business can exercise in order to reduce its environmental footprint. It’s also one of the most visible and cost effective, which makes it a great initiative for fostering a sustainability oriented company culture.

Premier has long recycled corrugated cardboard in its warehouse, but the program was limited due to a lack of commercial recycling services in the area. However, there still remained additional materials that could be removed from the waste stream. In order to begin recycling these materials, Premier had to seek out contracts with a 3rd party that could provide a pickup-service. A thorough waste audit revealed what remaining materials could be accepted into the recycling program. These materials included; plastic containers, polyvinyl, white and clear film plastic, plastic strapping, loose cardboard and various others.

Annual River Clean-Up

This event originated organically but developed into a partnership with the California Coastal Commission and several local businesses. Every year in September, Premier Mushrooms dedicates a weekend to cleaning up our coastal waterways, known as “Coastal Cleanup Day.” Last year, 55 out of 58 counties in California took part in the event cleaning up lakes, rivers and oceans all across the state. Colusa was officially the 55th of 58 counties to sign up.

The 1st annual clean-up was in 2012, the second was 2013, and the next will be September of 2014.

To see how much we gathered as a county and a state, refer to our clean-up blog for 2012 and 2013.