In what year did you start supplying to Food Connect? 2021
Where is your farm/business located?
Which Aboriginal nation are you situated on?
What do you produce?
We grow around a dozen different species of mushrooms focusing on the saprophytic (wood decomposers) types. Specifically we grow a wide range of coloured Oyster Mushrooms, King Oysters, Shiitake, Lion's Mane, Pioppino, and Chestnut.
What methods and philosophies do you use? (e.g. raw, organic, biodynamic, regenerative)
Our philosophy is local and organic. We source all of our inputs as locally as possible. Although we are not certified organic we use all organic, non-GMO and chemical free inputs. Our mushrooms are grown on clean, untreated hardwood sawdust from Victoria, mostly Mountain Ash/Tassie Oak shavings. It is vital that the wood is hardwood so we have to get this from Southern Australia. We use Australian-grown, non-GMO soy hulls processed in Toowoomba as a supplement and we also use Certified Organic Wheat Bran from Kialla Foods in our Shiitake mix. It is near impossible to get organic soy hulls in Australia as they're all tied up in soy milk contracts so Aus-grown non-GMO is the best we can get. We use Australian-grown, certified biodynamic wheat grain for all of our mushroom spawn which we make ourselves in our lab and cleanrooms. Our spent substrate is taken to Loop Growers who compost it and use it around their farm. We also work with Neighbourhood Farm and a local ginger grower who take spent substrate as well.
When, how and why did you become a farmer/food-maker?
It started out as a hobby for Mickey and I in 2017. We wanted to grow more of our own food and discovered that mushrooms were the perfect thing to grow if you didn't have a backyard, they don't need soil or sunlight. We were living in a little cottage house in Paddington at the time and created a little grow room under the house. Mushrooms quickly became our obsession, they are extremely fascinating and the new flavours and textures created a whole new appreciation for mushrooms that we didn't have before, having grown up just with the regular button/field varieties. Soon we were growing more than what we could eat ourselves. We started talking to some friends of ours in the hospo scene and learnt that most of the gourmet mushroom supply was coming from Korea and being shipped all the way here. We thought that was crazy as we were growing them at home so there was no reason to not be growing them locally. We saw an opportunity to become local producers of mushrooms in Brisbane as no one was really doing it at the time. We needed to find a bigger space if we were going to grow commercially and we settled on a couple of insulated shipping containers in a car park in West End. Our first commercial delivery was in 2018 to our good friends Lucky Duck in Highgate Hill, who we still supply today. And it all mushroomed from there! We moved to a warehouse in Geebung in 2020 and now we've got a bustling little urban farm.
What does a typical day look like for you?
First thing I do in the morning is check on the mushrooms. Mushrooms double in size every 24 hours and there's a small window of time when they are at their optimum for picking. You can't take a day off if you're a mushroom farmer! So first things first is to see what needs to be picked that day. Every day mushrooms are picked and we have two delivery days a week where we personally deliver to our hospitality partners. Mushroom farming is quite repetitive and tasks need to be done every day to keep the growing cycles working and production ticking along. We have two teams, the farm team and the production team. And everyone is doing a different part of the cultivation process.
What do you love about what you do?
I love working out the best ways to do things, how can we make things as efficient as possible so that we can make the most of our small space, our limited resources and time. I think a lot of small-scale farmers are incredible problem solvers. I also find the community connections I've made incredibly rewarding. Through growing food, I've met a whole bunch of awesome people and made a lot of new friends, people with shared values, who I would've never met if I didn't grow that first mushroom.
Why do you choose to work with Food Connect?
Food Connect embodies the reason we started growing mushrooms. We wanted to supply people with high quality, locally grown food and that's what Food Connect offers. We share their values and appreciate that they care about the WHY.
What would you most like to see change in how consumers engage with their food?
Consider where it's coming from. How many food miles are on your plate? If it's organic that's great, but if it's organic and it came from 10,000kms away, has that had more of a negative environmental impact than a local responsible producer of the same thing? Eating locally and seasonally reduces the amount of pressure we put on the environment. It's about truly knowing where food comes from and what went into growing it, producing it, processing it rather than just what's on the label.