The owners of Bay of Fungi Gourmet Mushrooms have kicked off a fundraising campaign to roll out a new product that will inspire others to grow their own batch of gourmet mushrooms at home.
“We hope to empower other people to grow their own mushrooms,” says Ashley Broderick, a co-owner in the business with her husband Gavin Hardie and friend Nick Thompson.
The crowd-funding campaign, launched two weeks ago, will enable Bay of Fungi to bring their ‘Grow Your Own Gourmet Mushroom Kit’ to life, a product they say fills a need in an ever-growing market.
Broderick says when they first got the idea to begin cultivating gourmet mushrooms, it didn’t take them long to realize how much of a ‘niche’ market they had stumbled upon. The demand easily outweighs their supply when they bring their mushrooms to the local farmers’ markets – they typically sell out within an hour or two each week.
“In terms of what we’re doing and the scale we’re doing, there’s no one doing the same thing,” she says.
So with such a gap in the market, and with Bay of Fungi only able to produce at a small scale, Broderick says they decided they wanted to do something to give others the opportunity to grow their own mushrooms and experience the satisfaction of producing a nutritionally-dense, delicious tasting food right from the comfort of their own kitchen.
“We’re only so many people,” she says. “And this market is so huge, there’s more than enough to go around.”
The grow kits contain everything that is needed to grow up to three pounds of Blue Oyster Mushrooms, including simple-to-use instructions that will help growers harvest their first batch of mushrooms within 10-12 days of opening.
“The excitement of growing mushrooms is pretty fulfilling,” says Hardie.
With still about a month left to go, the campaign has already reached 60 per cent of its goal, with $5,400 already raised to help with the development of the grow kits, with some of the funds also going to support the completion of a lab on their Walker Road site.
“This will also help us build the laboratory we need,” says Thompson.
The funding would provide the “final push” required for the finishing touches on the lab, including some equipment, siding, plumbing, and more.
“Our situation right now can’t supply where we’re headed,” says Thompson of the growth of their successful operation.
Their Walker Road Farm features a solar-powered greenhouse in which the mushrooms are grown but, before they get to that stage, they are produced in a petri dish or agar plate – thus the need for lab facilities.
Unlike plants, mushrooms don’t have seeds so there is a very specific way to grow these gourmet mushrooms. First, a piece of a grown mushroom is cut and put in a petri dish. From that, mycelium, a white substance, grows and expands. The mycelium is then placed on grain and allowed to grow some more. Once it’s deemed strong enough, the mycelium and grain are mixed with sawdust and hung up in bags called logs. Holes are punctured in those bags for the mushrooms to pop out and grow.
Broderick says they are excited about the future potential of Bay of Fungi, and are pleased with the success so far of being able to provide sustainable gourmet mushrooms to the community.
Their years of toiling and hard work have begun to come together, where they’ve gone from buying a piece of land a couple of years ago and “hatching a crazy plan” to now selling their products at the Sackville and Dieppe farmers’ market with a hope to expand into the Shediac market this summer.
And what has made their gourmet Oyster and Shiitake mushrooms so popular?
“I think people enjoy having something different,” says Hardie. “People are engaged in trying new things and expanding their taste horizons.”
For more information on the campaign, visit www.indiegogo.com/projects/fungi-for-the-people#/