Oct 15, 2022
Tivoli Mushrooms started as a passion project for Chef Devon Gilroy.
Tivoli Mushrooms started as a passion project for Chef Devon Gilroy. As a chef, Gilroy has always had wild mushrooms on his menus. After 20 years in New York City and Cape Cod, Gilroy moved to the Hudson Valley in 2014 in search of a better relationship with farms. While working as a chef, Devon was exposed to the abundant variety of wild foods that the Valley has to offer and a growing community of people involved in boutique agriculture.
Fast forward: Now, just a few years later, Tivoli Mushrooms, the recipient of a $100,000 loan through the HVADC Agribusiness Loan Fund, is well positioned to become a major wholesale purveyor of specialty mushrooms in the North East.
After discovering his passion for foraging mushrooms, Gilroy began educating himself about mushroom cultivation, habitats and their identifying characteristics. He was foraging so much that after he had enough for the restaurant and himself, he had excess to pass along to fellow local chefs. He said it then became clear that there wasn’t any reliable way for local chefs to get the mushrooms they wanted at peek freshness and quality. It wasn’t just foraged mushrooms either. There was a need for cultivated mushrooms as well. He began driving to Kennett Square in Pennsylvania to purchase mushrooms for distribution. Known as the Mushroom Capital of the World, Kennett Square is the largest mushroom producing city in America growing over half of the country’s mushroom production. The visits generated another moment of inspiration as there were very few local mushroom farms in the Hudson Valley offering high end mushrooms, and there was an opportunity to supply freshly picked cultivated product to the market to supplement his wild mushroom sales.
“Tivoli Mushrooms really started in conversation with chefs about their cultivation needs,” Gilroy said. “There’s a lack of growers in the Hudson Valley. What mushrooms do come in from commercial distributors is part of their larger offering, not their focus. We focus on providing quality products to our customers.”
In 2018 Gilroy started growing in a small indoor 1,000 square foot space in Hudson that was quickly outpaced by demand and grew to 5000 square feet. The Warehouse at 99 South 3rd Street in Hudson is unlikely quarters for a farm, as the mixed-use property also houses a multi-vendor antiques center, but it has and continues to be home to Tivoli Mushrooms’ mushroom farm operations.
Last year as Gilroy was upgrading infrastructure, he partnered with CFO, Charlene Chai, and Logistics Partner, Brian Leth, to raise equity capital for growth and the team has made quick impact in expanding both the production and distribution operations. With the proceeds of the capital raise, Tivoli Mushrooms bought a five-acre farm property in Hillsdale and has been working on building a new 15,000 square foot state-of-the-art mushroom farm.
The company also recently took over the operations of a mushroom distributor in New York City which has accelerated the Tivoli Mushroom’s growth and expansion plans.
“We were always planning to make New York City a major distribution hub for our mushrooms and this strategic opportunity allowed us to make it happen much sooner,” said Gilroy. With the help of this acquisition, Tivoli Mushrooms is now providing mushrooms to many major restaurants in New York City. As the operations of the new farm in Hillsdale come online in early 2023, the company will be poised to be a major mushroom distributor in the North East.
With the use of strategic funds from HVADC, Tivoli Mushrooms was able to add vital equipment to their process including a walk in cooler for their New York City distribution hub and a transport van. Once all the new operations resources are online, Chai projects the company will be able to produce 10,000 pounds of mushrooms a week - a five- fold increase from current cultivation.
“We’ve been growing at a tremendous rate and HVADC is really helping us with operations by connecting us faster with the physical resources we need to support our rapid expansion,” Chai said.
At the same time as the company is growing it’s mushroom farming operations, the company is expanding its reach and offerings. It is now working with foragers all over the country to harvest the highest quality seasonally specific wild mushrooms. Tivoli Mushrooms brokers wild mushrooms like Chanterelles, Morels and Matsutake from a growing team of foragers seasonally, while cultivating some of the most desired gourmet mushrooms year round at the farm including Oyster, Reishi, Pioppino, Lion’s Mane and Chestnut, and many others. While Tivoli Mushrooms is a wholesale operation, the company is also busy with plans to launch Go Mushrooms, a customer facing brand starting with medicinal mushroom tinctures that we expect to see soon as operations ramp up. Tivoli Mushrooms may also be found in many local specialty retail stores and on restaurant menus in the Hudson River valley and in NYC.
“We’ve been incredibly impressed with Tivoli Mushroom’s organization and planning. They have a magnificent product but what makes them an ideal client for HVADC to work with is their dynamic and well considered scaling,” said Mary Ann Johnson, HVADC Deputy Director. “Devon astutely recognized a space in the market for exceptional, regional mushrooms and now the company’s growth is a big benefit to their customers and the overall vibrancy of Hudson Valley agribusiness ecosystem.”
“What defines us right now is service and quality – and amazing teamwork,” Gilroy said. “Coming from a restaurant background, we are very particular about what we are offering. We love being in the Hudson Valley. We live here for a reason.”
To learn more about the types of financing provide through HVADC’s Agribusiness Loan Fund Program visit https://www.hvadc.org/loans-and-grants.