Interview with Gale Ferranto

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  • Introduction
    Partial Transcript: We're recording. Today is February the fifth, twenty nineteen
    Synopsis:
    Keywords:
  • Family origins in mushrooms / role at the Pennsylvania Farm Show
    Partial Transcript: Can you tell me a little bit about how the family farm got started
    Synopsis: Ferranto gives a brief family history of her grandfather's beginnings in mushrooms that involved her mother and later herself. She talks about the start of her family's role running the mushroom-based food court section of the Pennsylvania Farm Show as well, a tradition that started with Ferranto's mother and they have continued for forty two years since.
    Keywords: agriculture; Angus cattle; Buona Foods Inc; cattle farming; cooking with mushrooms; education; family dynamic; family farm; grandparent; Harrisburg, Pa; immigrant; immigration; Italian; Italy; Mushroom Farmers of America; mushroom harvesting; parent; Pennsylvania Farm Show; sustainability
  • Mushroom Council
    Partial Transcript: Well I mean, I'm gonna skip around a little bit here
    Synopsis: Ferranto shares her role as a board member of the Mushroom Council and how the elections and appointment process works.
    Keywords: Buona Foods Inc; community outreach; industry relationships; Mushroom Council; Mushroom Festival, Kennett Square; North American Mushroom Conference; Penn State Short Course; Pennsylvania State University; USDA
  • Beginnings of Buona Foods / Ferranto's mother / early women in the industry
    Partial Transcript: So your grandfather started the farm part and then your mother started this company here
    Synopsis: Ferranto talks about her mother and the early days of her mother's wholesale business Buona Foods. She remarks on the few women in the mushroom industry, especially in the 1970s when her mother was active in the business. She only remembers three women in the local industry at all, including her mother.
    Keywords: Bella Mushroom Farms; Buona Foods Inc; community outreach; Eddie Leo; family business; family farm; import crisis; Italian; Laura Phelps; mushroom education; mushroom farm; Mushroom Festival, Kennett Square; mushroom growers; mushroom promotions; parent; Penn State; Pennsylvania Farm Show; Pennsylvania State University; siblings; women in the mushroom industry
  • Early mushroom memories / career in textile and apparel production
    Partial Transcript: So, um, I know you've been surrounded by mushrooms all of your life
    Synopsis: Ferranto describes some of her earliest childhood memories of mushrooms such as working with her mother at the Farm Show and cutting or stuffing mushrooms after dinner for local restaurants. She talks about how she was educated in textile and apparel production in New York and worked for a local company in Lancaster, Pennsylvania for many years before coming back to the family mushroom business to work alongside her brothers.
    Keywords: apparel production; childhood; children's fashion; education; family business; family dynamic; family farm; Fashion Institute of Technology; international manufacturing; Lancaster, Pa; manufacturing; marketing; outsourced labor; Pennsylvania Farm Show; textile production; textiles; travel for work
  • Going to work at Buona Foods Inc
    Partial Transcript: Can you say something about your early days rejoining the family farm
    Synopsis: Ferranto reflects on the difficult transition that she had, along with her family, when she decided to come back to work for her family after her previous career in textiles. She recalls having to relearn parts of the business and earn her place there. She talks about both of her parent's roles in the business and the direction that each of them focused their attentions on.
    Keywords: Buona Foods Inc; career change; community; consolidation; family business; family dynamic; family farm; male dominated industry; mushroom packaging; mushroom retail; parental relationship; retirement; transition
  • Cooking with mushrooms
    Partial Transcript: So, can we talk a little bit about the early demonstration and recipe days
    Synopsis: Ferranto explains where and how she still demonstrates cooking with mushrooms in local grocery stores to promote the product. She shares recipe ideas that both her mother and herself have used as well as how they use local demonstrations as a time to answer the public's mushroom related questions.
    Keywords: blended burger; canned mushrooms; cooking demonstrations; cooking with mushrooms; education; fresh market; fresh mushrooms; Giant Food Stores; importation; marinated mushrooms; mushroom products; mushroom recipes; mushroom retail; nutrition; stuffed mushrooms; traditional cooking
  • Bella Mushroom Farms growing variety / in-house processing
    Partial Transcript: So is there a particular type of mushroom that you do your practice with
    Synopsis: Ferranto talks about the kinds of mushrooms that Bella Mushroom Farms grows or contracts out to other farms to sell and then also describes the processing plant that slices and packages them in-house for retail. In addition, she mentions the difficulty when it comes to the harvesting timeline and how mechanization fits into that.
    Keywords: agaricus biosporus; automated harvesting; Bella Mushroom Farms; brown mushrooms; business operation; exotic mushrooms; local business; local produce; mushroom market; mushroom packaging; mushroom processing; mushroom variety; production machinery; retail; specialty mushrooms; white mushrooms
  • Italians in the mushroom industry / harvesting mechanization
    Partial Transcript: So the last I hear was that the mushroom industry started with Quaker families
    Synopsis: Ferranto shares her understanding of the changes in labor forces and farm ownership since her grandfather's immigration to the area in 1917 when he started working in a mushroom house. She also advocates for the mechanization of mushroom houses in the future and how houses may have to be rebuilt and redesigned to accommodate being able to use new technologies.
    Keywords: agriculture; automation; immigrant; immigration; Italian; labor; labor force; manual labor; mechanization; Mexican; Mexico; mushroom beds; mushroom growing process; mushroom house; mushroom house design; Quaker; technological advancement; work force
  • Demand for mushroom products
    Partial Transcript: So we've talked about the labor and the technology angle
    Synopsis: Ferranto speaks to to increased demands for different kinds of mushroom products and how the fresh market for mushrooms is much more popular in the present day than the market for canned produce.
    Keywords: canned food; changes in the mushroom industry; demand for mushrooms; fresh market; fresh produce; increased demand; mushroom products; mushroom recipes; processed food
  • How mushrooms have stayed the same over time / Kennett Square Mushroom Festival and community benefits
    Partial Transcript: What hasn't changed?
    Synopsis: Ferranto shares the ways the mushrooms have stayed the same over the decades of rapid changes in the industry. She goes into detail about aspects of the Kennett Mushroom Festival that have grown and have greatly contributed to the community since her mother's days.
    Keywords: Berks County, Pa; Chester County, Pa; community outreach; economic benefits; education; family business; farm consolidation; genetic modification; Kennett Square, Pa; local business; local market; Mushroom Festival, Kennett Square; mushroom processing; nutritious; Pennsylvania Farm Show; raw materials; transportation; white mushroom
  • Changes in the Pennsylvania Farm Show and the Kennett Square Mushroom Festival
    Partial Transcript: How has that grown over the years
    Synopsis: Ferranto talks about the bigger changes she's seen in the Pennsylvania Farm Show and the Kennett Square Mushroom Festival. She continues to list the several ways that the Mushroom Festival in particular contributes to the greater Chester County community such as large donations to community organizations and educational grants.
    Keywords: Chester County, Pa; community event; community outreach; education; local business; local produce; local products; Mushroom Council; Mushroom Festival, Kennett Square; Pennsylvania Farm Show
  • Individual outreach / renewable energy / enjoying the industry
    Partial Transcript: So with some of the outreach that you do
    Synopsis: Ferranto talks about some of the business expansion opportunities that Buona Foods and Bella Mushroom Farms have considered such as food trucks. She speaks to the use of renewable energy like wind and solar in mushroom growing as well, which Bella Mushroom Farms has not moved into yet. Her favorite part of working with mushrooms is the cooking and education sides of it that she's involved with.
    Keywords: community outreach; cooking with mushrooms; education; FarmHer; food trucks; local business; neighbor; Pennsylvania State University; renewable energy; small business; solar power; technological advancements; technology; wind power
  • Difficulties in mushrooms / future of family dynamics / end of interview
    Partial Transcript: You talk about being in 4-H a lot before
    Synopsis: Ferranto shares the challenges that she recognizes in the industry like being able to step away and take time for herself when she needs it. She ends the interview emphasizing the changing family dynamic of the future of the family business and how the succession process will look different for the next generation than it did for her generation as well as the importance of spending quality time with family members.
    Keywords: 4-H; agricultural family; agriculture; ancestry; family business; family dinner; family dynamic; family farm; family values; farm consolidation; HVAC; mental health; physical health; Pony Club; self care; succession planning; temperature control; year round growing; youth organization