Updated: Sep 15
The story of SporeShift Mushrooms ...
Mushroom growing in NZ has been steadily growing in popularity over the last few years, as people learn the importance of mushrooms in the garden and in their diet. Starting out, my partner and I primarily focused on producing gourmet mushrooms for local restaurants and markets. We quickly realised there was a big interest, seemingly growing interest -- no pun intended -- in growing mushrooms at home, in the garden, or even experimenting with indoor mushroom growing in urban-settings. Just before our mushroom growing journey, we began the art of gardening and making a massive step in becoming fully sustainable throughout many facets of our life. After just a few years of producing most of our own food, keeping our own seeds and really digging deep into soil health (haha ok last pun ...), sharing our knowledge and educating people to produce their own healthy food is something close and important to us.
The shift to mushroom growing products ...
I started spending a lot of time working out what products could simplify mushroom growing for the average person, or even for kids, without all the speciality equipment that is usually required. While we do sell kits where everything is pretty much already done for you, all you have to do is water and wait, we also wanted to make a product that could easily show the entire process of growing mushrooms from the very basics. From the 'spawn' (seeds basically), to the 'substrate' (growing medium) and pasteurisation process, we wanted to give our customers at any age and background the autonomy to fully understand what is happening throughout the entire growing process and mushroom life-cycle. We took our method of growing oyster mushrooms and simplified it down into an easy 5 step mushroom growing kit that anyone could do at home. This kit has become our main product as an attempt to offer 'something for everyone.' This kit can grow great yielding commercial Grey oyster species (Pleurotus Pulmonarius), Pink oyster (Pleurotus Djamor) or even the Native-NZ Culture (Pleurotus Parsonsiae). Each culture offering their own unique flavours, appearance and textures.
Not long after promoting our simple grow kits and products, we began getting more and more advanced questions about spore work on agar, liquid cultures and advanced mycology. We thought why not try put this all together and make the one stop mushroom shop! We now offer as many mushroom growing products as possible to help everyone grow at home at every level, spreading the mycelial web of mushroom growing knowledge one spore-der at a time (ok i've gone too far with the cringe jokes ... this is why I grow mushrooms rather being a stand-up comedian). We realised that most of our learning on how to grow mushrooms came from trial and error: so having a shop set up where the products are local, affordable & shipped-out quickly, appeared to be key for serving the the growing number of keen mushroom hobbyists and even novice mushroom farmers.
NZ Mushroom Cultures and Biosecurity
All of our mushroom cultures are sourced within NZ from a pool of established cultures. Some of these are NZ-native and some imported commercial strains -- these cultures are shared amongst many other growers. The mushroom growing community is pretty tight within NZ and we maintain close relationships with almost all of the small gourmet growers across the country to share cultures, successes and failures, and even bounce ideas off one another to problem solve and improve. Although we are limited to the varieties of mushroom species we can cultivate compared to overseas, the interest in expanding the small scale mushroom industry is still growing and evolving. Not only are mushrooms being grown for consumption, but fungi is being experimented with in areas not limited to: building soil health and cleaning up contaminated soil, land stability and erosion prevention, creating sustainable packaging and building products, medicinal research, and even regenerating native bush in some cases.
For anyone interested, the official list of commercial cultures available to be imported is listed below as well as here on MPI's website.