Mushroom Cultivation 2.0 (2019)
Last year we partnered with mushroom expert, Danielle Stevenson, to introduce mushroom cultivation to the Botshabelo community. Our introduction of fungi to the community included three major parts;
Infrastructure and construction;
Mushroom education and skills training required for community members to maintain a healthy mushroom cultivation operation;
Providing the equipment and tools required to operate a sustainable mushroom growing operation
We specifically introduced oyster mushrooms which are full of protein, vitamins, minerals, anti-oxidants, and have immune modulating properties. Oysters are very easy to grow and prolific once established, thus making them the perfect type of mushrooms to launch Botshabelo’s mushroomm growing operation.
This year we'll be supporting the ongoing Mushrom Project in three major ways:
Elevate and maintain their existing production and infrastructure
Design a sustainable and profitable business plan that can be implemented by the community as a source of income
Continue to purchase the oyster mushroom spawn until the community is able to manage inoculation and/or purchase their own spawn.
Challenges and Triumphs
The first few months surfaced many challenges, from finding the right materials to grow the mushrooms on, mold, and maintaining growing conditions/temperatures. But embracing every experience as a learning experience, the community faced these challenges head on. Early this year, the community dialed in their growing process and, it's been more fruitful than we ever imagined. They discovered that their ideal substrate is straw, which they've successfully sourced locally. They also established relationships with local fungi growers and enthusiasts. This little growing network shared many tips and tricks that would jump start Botshabelo's mushroom production.
We initially estimated that their production would proliferate for about 8-10 weeks. However, to our surprise, they are proliferating continuously for about 14 weeks. This means they are fruiting more mushrooms than we anticipated; which a major reason for celebration! Check out some of the photos from their recent harvests.
The community has embraced mushroom cultivation as a development opportunity for their community and has continued to host mushroom education and skills training with their school classrooms. They are even looking into making Mushroom cultivation part of their school programming. The existing mushroom ambassadors have also enrolled more community members in the ongoing maintenance of the mushrooms, and even the little ones are getting involved in the process.
Since they've been so successful with their mushroom production, the community is cooking with the mushrooms multiple times a week and teaching the children to cook with them on the weekends. Their growing passion for fungi doesn't stop here though, this year CSW will be exploring what it looks like for Botshabelo to turn their mushroom operation into a profitable business that continues to support the community.
Total Estimated 2019 Project Cost: $4000+
Project costs include:
Growing materials and supplies
infrastructure upgrades and maintenance