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Health scare leads Franklin County CEO to open mushroom farm

A mushroom farm is springing up in Franklin County, using innovative technologies to grow year-round. The new growth sprouted out of a near catastrophe.

FRANKLIN COUNTY, Pa. — This month marks five years since Setas Mushrooms CEO Kat Mackenzia suffered a near-fatal medical event.

"I was under a lot of stress and I suffered a stroke," Mackenzia said.

Experiencing severe pain, Mackenzia was prescribed pills to help her recover but said they didn't help. That's when her husband, Max Justice, recommended she try some mushrooms, a food she admits she hated.

"I was like, 'no, I'm not going to eat mushrooms. I don't like them,'" Mackenzia recalled.

After hearing more about the potential health benefits, Mackenzia started taking some mushroom supplements. Soon, her condition improved dramatically.

"I had my follow-up with my neurologist," she said. "I showed up there and he looked me up and down and said, 'Wow, you look amazing.'"

"I literally almost lost her, but thanks to the power of mushrooms she's back, I wouldn't say to 100%, but she's doing phenomenal," said Justice, chairman of Setas Mushrooms.

Astonished by her own results, Mackenzie began growing mushrooms on her own, forming her company, Setas Mushrooms, in 2020.

Needing more "shroom" to grow, the couple purchased a farm on Hege Road in Montgomery Township, about 10 miles outside Greencastle, Franklin County, last year. They're growing 27 different mushroom varieties, all non-psychedelic.

"We were growing 400 pounds a week out of our 6-car garage, so we knew that we were expanding and we were growing. It was time to find another home," Justice said. 

This home will help them produce more than a ton of mushrooms per week, all year long.

From the petri dish to the bag, the mushrooms start to grow in the incubator.
When ready to sprout, they're moved across the barn to a humidity-controlled chamber where they will double in size each day.

With a line of mushroom products and treats, Setas Mushrooms wants to share this powerful food with south central Pennsylvania and beyond. 

"This, it will blow your mind," Mackenzia said. "That's why they're called magic food."

Setas Mushrooms' grand opening is Saturday, March 18 from 2 p.m. to 7 p.m.

The event will feature live music, cooking competitions and enough mushrooms to feed 600 people. You can find out more about the fungi fun for the family on the Setas Mushrooms webpage.

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