“There aren’t too many people like us” even among the mushroom-growing families of Kennett Square and its environs, says Michael Basciani. “We’re one of the very few, if not the only, fourth-generation mushroom farmers in the country. Not many make it that long.”
The Basciani saga begins along the Adriatic Sea, in the Italian province of Abruzzi. Even today, the province is hardscrabble country. And it was from here in 1915 that Michael’s grandfather left for a new life in the New World.
“He started picking mushrooms for the Pratt family in 1915,” says Michael, “just like the immigrants from Mexico who come into Chester County nowadays.” Within five years, the grand old man was in business for himself. Three sons followed him, and one son’s three sons followed in turn. They are Michael, Richard, and Mario.
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