William Swayne was a successful florist in Kennett Square

He had an idea

His idea was to grow mushrooms beneath his greenhouse benches. He sent to England for spawn, and the results were encouraging enough that he built the first mushroom house in the area. His son, J. Bancroft Swayne, returning from college, took over the mushroom business and made it a commercial success, eventually developing a spawn plant and a cannery in addition to the growing houses.

Inspired by the Swayne success and the attractive price of mushrooms in city markets, others began the production of mushrooms as their principal occupation. For more than 100 years, mushroom farmers have been growing mushrooms in southeastern Pennsylvania.

In the 1950s


Mushroom growers formed the American Mushroom Institute. An organization to act as an advocate for the mushroom farm community.

AMI is still an active and important organization in the mushroom farm community. It promotes increased consumption of cultivated mushrooms by every means possible, including research, advertising, publicity, merchandising, consumer education and government relations. The organization also assists in developing better and more economical methods of growing, packaging and shipping mushrooms.

The AMI continues today to work with mushroom farmers and suppliers and with educational institutions, including The Pennsylvania State University, for the betterment of the mushroom growers. The AMI is a national voluntary trade association representing the growers, processors and marketers of cultivated mushrooms in the United States and industry suppliers worldwide.