Sustainable Living Providers – Story #7 Fraser Coast Mushrooms
Sustainable Living Choices on the Fraser Coast – Sustainable Providers
by Ewa Bekiesch – Permaculture Designer and Sustainable Living Consultant
This is the article I wrote for the Fraser Coast Magazine ‘The Beacon’ issue #18
“In this series, I am interviewing sustainable businesses in our region and hope to encourage the Fraser Coast residents to support our local sustainable providers. Interested in participating? Info and how to contact me at www.earthbooth.com.au”- Ewa Bekiesch
A sustainable business considers its impact on the environment, society and ecological health.Today, we are introducing ‘Fraser Coast Mushrooms’
Basic outline of your business that includes the Who, What, Where and since When of your business story: We are Kim and David Hunt, Fraser Coast Mushrooms. We started farming with pretty much zero knowledge. We left the city and bought a lime orchard in Maryborough at the end of 2011. It had been run as a conventional farm and that is what we learned in our hand over. It didn’t take very long before we decided that sort of farming was not for us. We were very lucky to meet some people who headed us in a biological approach to farming and while we are not certified organic for either our limes or now our mushrooms, a more natural approach is very much our focus. We have struggled for years with drought conditions and insufficient water to grow the limes or even diversify into different fruit or vegetable crop but after much research found we could grow mushrooms, there was a space in the local market for them and they are a fabulous healthy food source for many. We were back to zero knowledge on how to grow mushrooms but what a fantastic opportunity to learn and grow.
Tell us what you stand for as a business and why are you considering yourself being a sustainable business provider? We believe that the food should not have to travel thousands of kilometres to reach consumers. We want to remain at a size that can service the Fraser Coast. Keep it local, keep it fresh and keep it healthy. All farms should be responsible for the soil and the planet, growing nutritious food for a local area. We have a focus on eliminating waste, not only do we ensure the spent mushroom compost is re-purposed but we also have sourced local people to take the harvest ‘waste’ (ie the stems or reject mushrooms) and even our used boxes and put them to great use on their permaculture farm. Soon, as we grow, we will need to find more like minded people to take advantage of these by products from our farm.
What was the initial idea to create your business? Tell a quick relatable story about why you started your business – We started growing mushrooms because our lime orchard of 2000 trees was getting increasing harder to manage in times of drought. We had to find a diversification that was more sustainable with water usage.
What you specialise in and the work you love doing – Well we grow mushrooms for the people and restaurants on the Fraser Coast. We love the learning how to be more self sufficient. David is a tradesman fitter machinist so can do the building and repairs required, Kim is a business analyst and has a keen eye for detail. We really love taking our mushrooms and limes to the markets and interacting with our customers.
What challenges are you facing while running your business? Old guard mindset, you need to use chemicals to grow, as new kids on the block in the mushroom world we are looking at ways to grow without the use of chemicals. Thinking outside of what has been done, for example can essential oils be used to help deter the fungus flies instead of pesticides in the growing medium and sprays in the rooms?
How do the customers benefit from using your services/products? Absolutely the freshest produce we can supply, nutritious and spray free.
What is the future of your business? What do you hope to achieve within your business? Give us a glimpse into your future goals – As the demand for our mushrooms grow we want to expand, we would like to grow more specialist mushrooms (oysters, shitake, lions mane etc) Hopefully in the not to distant future we would like to build a commercial kitchen so we can value add to our produce for our customers (eg mushroom pastas, smoked or marinated mushrooms, lime products, so many options). We need to grow in a way that is sustainable for us financially as well as being able to supply a great product with packaging and processes that are sustainable for the planet.
Additional notes and reflections – This has really gotten us out of our comfort zone and into something we knew little of. The more we learn about mushrooms the more we realise the less we know and in fact the world knows about mushrooms.
Contact details – David and Kim Hunt, phone 0466884906, Facebook and Instagram – Fraser Coast Mushrooms