oyster mushroom success!
We are thrilled to share the success of our pilot-mushroom project! For the past month, our Permaculture Manager, Lindsay, has been hard at work in pursuit of a universally prized mushroom'the Pleurotus ostreatus, more commonly known as the Oyster mushroom.
It is said that the cultivation of mushrooms is an art, but we soon discovered it is also very much based on science and technology, requiring several factors all needed to obtain a good yield. The most important being: study and expertise on mushrooms; waste materials; and a facility that provides the environment required for mushroom growth and protection against insects, pests and disease.
The objective of this project was to pilot mushroom growing so that we could see if there was a market for this produce; educate the Kesho Leo Mama's on the most practical method of production and nutritional value of mushrooms; and to create an income generating activity that would help Kesho Leo take one more step towards being economically self-sufficient.
But before any growing could happen, we needed something to grow on. The substrate is to mushrooms, like soil is to plants.
Dried banana husks and leaves were chosen as the substrate as it is a readily available and sustainable material here at Kesho Leo and retains water'essential for the supply of oxygen in the cultivation process.
The substrate was then submerged into a large pot of hot water for 30 minutes for pasteurization, drained and then cooled allowing beneficial micro-organisms to grow.
Once cooled, the spawn (seed stock of mushrooms) were mixed together with the moist substrate and placed into clear plastic bags in a dark growing room, which slowly saw the formation of little mushroom buds around the edges of bag perforations.
After 18-20 days, they had grown to an unexpected palm-size, ready for harvesting.
Much to our delight, our Oyster mushrooms debut last Friday, at our fws organic veggie stand in Meat King, was a success and sold out within the first hour. Mushrooms are actually really hard to come by in Arusha and those available are quite expensive, so this is a smart business move for Kesho Leo. We are very excited at the thought of expanding our mushroom production bags and begin selling to the Arusha community on a regular basis.
Did you know…
Apart from their exotic taste, texture and culinary properties, the Oyster mushroom has a high nutritional value in protein, vitamins (particularly Vitamin C), minerals (calcium, potassium, phosphorous) and anti-oxidants.
During the cultivation process, it is important to keep everything as sanitary as possible'the air, the room, utensils, worker's clothing, and workers themselves' so as to keep bacteria from growing on the substrate (which would decrease the food available to the mushroom and/or leave poisonous residues) preventing a good yield.