Gorgo-Gourovitch, M.1; Kathleen Sexsmith2
1Horticulture Extension Educator, Penn State Extension, West Chester, PA, 19380
2Assistant Professor of Rural Sociology, Penn State University, University Park, PA, 16802


Chester County, Pennsylvania is home to an estimated 68 commercial mushroom farms, producing two-thirds of all U.S. mushrooms (Holliday, 2018). Historically mushrooms were picked by single Latino migrant men; today Latinx families are settled in the area and both women and men work in harvesting. However, employers have identified a widespread labor shortage as the principal threat to the future of their businesses. The objectives of our work was to help identify gaps and needs that contribute to the problem encpuntared by both, workers and growers. We accpmplished the following goals by doing on farm face to face interviews with farmworkers mainly in Spanish as well as by sending and online survey to farm owners.

1. Assessing the scale and scope of impacts of the labor shortage on mushroom farm businesses.

2. Examining factors that motivate workers (particularly harvesters) to stay or leave a farm.

3. Identifying similarities and gaps between worker and employer perspectives on the labor shortage.

As a result of this project we concluded that: 

Many employers consider the labor shortage to be severe, especially for harvesting positions.

Harvesters’ motivations to stay on a farm are partly based upon factors that impact pay. However, 65% live with their families here. Therefore, flexibility with scheduling to facilitate childcare is perceived as an advantage, and the very early morning starting hours are seen as a drawback. 

Workers and farm owners agree on the importance of raising pay and providing benefits/ incentives to improve employee retention. Yet, workers put more emphasis on difficulties with scheduling and supervisors than employers. Similarly, Garcia (2006) indicates that “satisfaction with employer” is one factor that contributes to workers leaving or staying in the mushroom industry. 






All Accepted Posters