Chantelle Johnson is taking her urban farm out of the dark and is now providing the community with oyster mushrooms through Gin Gin Gourmet Mushrooms.
Gin Gin Gourmet Mushrooms opened for business just two months ago and is already flourishing with a diverse range of oyster mushrooms, including blue, white and tan varieties.
Gourmet mushrooms have made their way into cuisines across the globe, with the unorthodox shapes, textures, and tastes making great additions to a variety of dishes; most gourmet mushrooms are grown and harvested on a small scale.
Chantelle said gourmet mushrooms were not typically sold in supermarkets because of the low shelf life, but she hopes to spread her love for mushroom to the wider community and have more households eating them on a regular basis.
“I use oyster mushroom in most of my recipes, in everything really,” Chantelle said.
“America is quite big on using gourmet mushrooms, and I think here (in Australia) we are used to white button mushrooms – whereas you can use oyster mushrooms in anything you use button mushrooms in, and I hope they will grow in popularity and more people will introduce them to the average kitchen.”
Sugarcane mulch ideal for gourmet mushrooms
Chantelle said she had always been captivated by how mushrooms grow, and she has found in the Bundaberg Region the ideal way to cultivate them was by using local sugarcane mulch as a base.
“I’ve always loved mushrooms, and I am fascinated with the way they grow indoors, in a climate-controlled area,” she said.
“People grow the oyster mushrooms either on hardwood, coffee grounds or cane mulch.
“I have found because of where we live, with the abundance of sugarcane, that the sugarcane mulch method is ideal.
“I love watching them ‘pop’, it’s called pinning as they pop out from the bag, it’s very different, I call them my babies.
“At the moment I am producing about 4kg a week, and I will be increasing this to about 20kg once I expand my grow room.
“It was actually my husband, Mark, who nudged me to test the market and sell them as I was producing too many to eat myself.”
Chantelle said living on a little more than an acre of land in Gin Gin was ideal for growing gourmet mushrooms as they took up little space, and the fungi also used little water which was perfect for her.
“It’s a landless production to grow these mushrooms,” she said.
“We grow them with a humidifier mist and 70 litres of water last about 4-5 days, so it’s worked out beautifully for us.”