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supporting kentucky’s farmers


August 2005


Billy Webb inspecting mushrooms

Billy and Rebecca Webb own Sheltowee Farm, a 200-acre mushroom farm located in Salt Lick, Kentucky. The Webbs began cultivating shitake and oyster mushrooms on their property in 2001. They also harvested the wild mushrooms that grew in their forest.


The demand for their mushrooms was so high among regional chefs, restaurants, caterers and retail consumers that the Webbs knew they had to construct a building to sustain consistent year-round production.


They turned to MACED’s Agricultural Diversification Lending Program to help finance the expansion of their business. With additional funds from the Kentucky Agriculture Development Board, the Webbs were able to build an indoor mushroom growing facility. Later the Webbs used technical assistance from MACED to improve the farm’s financial management and inventory systems.


“Small business agencies wouldn’t work with us because we were farming; agriculture lenders didn’t see mushrooms or facilities to grow them as collateral. MACED had an answer for our immediate needs and worked with us to create solutions for our long-term viability,” said Billy Webb.


Today the Webbs grow about 1,000 pounds of oyster and shitake mushrooms every month and deliver their organic product to over 80 restaurants and retail outlets. Most of the restaurants are in or near Lexington but some are as far away as Atlanta.


There are many more family farmers like Billy Webb who are diversifying their agricultural income. Kentucky has over 90,000 family farms and MACED believes that family farming is a vital part of a healthy local rural economy. MACED is committed to investing in small farms to help them survive and prosper.


For more information about Sheltowee Farm, visit their website.