My name is Kathi Lafferty and I opened The Mushroom Cap in 2004 evolving from a desire to showcase the MUSHROOM in the Mushroom Capital of the World.
Since buying a building at 112/114 W. State Street in Kennett Square, PA in 1997 to open “The Growing Tree” (a business I had started in 1984 at my home in Landenberg, PA), I often thought that Downtown Kennett Square needed a place for visitors/tourists or locals to buy Fresh Mushrooms right from the farm.
My husband Tom and his brothers Phil and Steve have operated the family mushroom business, that was started by their Dad, Philip in 1946, since the early ‘70s. Our son Chris joined the family business in June, 2004 after graduating Penn State. He is now general manager at Hillendale Peat Moss, a service business connected to the industry. Our family grew the white (agaricus) mushroom. We now have other Mushroom farmers growing shiitake, oyster, maitake, crimini and white mushrooms in our mushroom houses in Avondale, Landenberg & Kennett Square in PA and Hockessin in DE.
At The Mushroom Cap we show a very informative 13 minute video about the Mushroom Industry in Chester County. All those who watch walk away having learned how mushrooms are grown, where they are grown (so many people want to know where the caves are), see a processing plant and most importantly find out about the benefits of eating mushrooms. This film eliminates the need to go on a farm tour which is no longer offered due to Food Safety regulations. Videos can be purchased.
In 2007 I was offered what was in storage from the original Phillips Mushroom Museum which closed in 2001. It was time to make room for some great pieces – a model of a mushroom house and packing room, displays showing the parts of a mushroom, how shiitake mushrooms grow and the history of mushrooms from their very beginning. It feels good to have saved what is a big part of our heritage here in Kennett Square, PA.
We are very proud to say we are The Mushroom Capital of the World – which we claim because there is no other place in the World that grows as many mushrooms in a concentrated area as here in Southeastern Chester County.
We hope to see you at The Mushroom Cap! Since opening in August, 2004, we have had visitors from many foreign countries as well as most of the US. We are very friendly and will usually ask where you are from, what brings you to town, etc. We may ask to take your picture under our “Kennett Square is Cool” sign………which you can email to yourself. We give advice on where to eat and where to shop. The Mushroom Cap becomes a very “small world” at times. Conversations lead to someone knowing someone………….
And the best kept secret “under” The Mushroom Cap is The Growing Tree, a toy shop featuring Melissa & Doug, Calico Critters, Name Trains, You Name It Barrettes, Bruder Trucks and more.
Hope to see you soon,