Sackville's Bay of Fungi expands gourmet mushroom business

Sackville entrepreneurs are building a new off-the-grid facility that will allow their gourmet mushroom business to expand.

Sackville company is working to get fungus out of their basement, by expanding their business

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      Sackville entrepreneurs are building a new off-the-grid facility that will allow their gourmet mushroom business to expand.

      Gavin Hardie said Bay of Fungi produces gourmet mushrooms as opposed to the "button mushrooms" that are often found in grocery stores.

      In order to grow their business, however, the company needed to expand its facility.

      With financial help from the Department of Agriculture, Gavin Hardie and his business partners are building a greenhouse, which is attached to a refrigerated trailer.

      "This is a reefer trailer, so it's insulated, and it's got a washable, food safe interior so it's the perfect building or perfect box to grow mushrooms in," said Hardie.

      Hardie said he expects to be done the new growing facility in about a month.

      The refrigerated trailer was spotted by Hardie on Kijiji for free. Using someone else's junk to expand his business fits with Hardie's philosophy.

      He said he tries to keep waste to a minimum. Hardie said he will be insulating the greenhouse floor using old pieces of doors, also found on Kijiji, and plans to power the operation with solar power.

      "We're in a remote area. We don't have access to power lines so we're going to do it all photovoltaic (solar) panels and so it'll be off grid and a self-contained unit," he said.

      Business started as an experiment

      Ashley Broderick is a co-owner in the business and is married to Hardie. She said she hopes the expansion will help get the business to a point where they can make a living.

      She said she's also looking forward to reclaiming parts of the house lost to the mushrooms.

      "The constraints from doing it from home are obvious, right. We have a lab upstairs, we do a lot of the sterilizations in our kitchen," said Broderick.

      "It's not really ideal."

      She said they started the business in the basement more than two years ago, as an experiment, while they figured out how to get the mushrooms growing consistently.

      In the early days, Hardie said they learned from trial and error. A third business partner, Nick Thompson, is a biologist, which helped the business in the beginning.

      Broderick said, unlike plants, mushrooms don't have any seeds so there is a very specific way to grow these gourmet mushrooms.

      To grow them, a part of a grown mushroom is cut, it's put in an agar plate or petri dish.

      Mycelium, a white substance that looks like mold, grows and expands.

      Once it covers the agar plate, Broderick says it's put on organic rye grain and allowed to grow some more.

      Once it's deemed ready, the grain and mycelium are mixed with hydrated hardwood sawdust and hung up in bags.

      Holes are punctured in the hanging bags, where the mushrooms start to pin, or pop out, and grow.


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