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African Gourmet Mushrooms

Grey oyster, pink oyster and shitake mushrooms grown in converted shipping containers in the Western Cape; fresh for the Cape Town market place.

Note: Food With A Story has included these details on behalf of African Gourmet Mushrooms. If you are from African Gourmet Mushrooms please contact us to get profiled and/or have the listing transferred.

Stellenbosch, Western Cape

Retail outlets

This product is listed as available from the following retail outlets:

Neighbourgoods Market (Woodstock)   Stellenbosch Fresh Goods Market   Checkers (Western Cape)  

A jack of all trades lands on fungi

Peter de Kok is something of a jack-of-all-trades. Having started his meandering career path as an accountant, he has dabbled in a wide variety of ventures along the way to becoming an exotic fungi farmer. Roughly six years ago, while he was running a refrigerated shipping container contracting business, he saw hundreds of slightly damaged containers going to the dump each month, and he wanted to find a way of reusing them.

A friend of his was growing mushrooms at the time, and together they converted a container into a growing ‘fungi-house’. Peter, who had always wanted to get into farming, finally saw his chance. One container growing shitake mushrooms quickly expanded to seven, cultivating pink oyster and grey oyster as well.

Recycled containers the perfect incubator

Shitake mushrooms (which are renowned in Asia for their medicinal properties) are sensitive to four environmental factors: temperature, moisture, light and carbon dioxide. So the shipping containers are the ideal mechanism for controlling these factors; they are light-proof, air-tight, and well insulated. Once the spores have established themselves in the substrate (100% organic wood), Shitake takes approximately 42 days to fruit for harvesting. The process has multiple steps; from sterilising the substrate to ensure that the spores have the best chance of survival, to fluctuating the temperature to encourage fruiting.

The oyster mushrooms are grown in the spaces between the containers, which are simply but cleverly managed to create the perfect conditions for their growth: warmth and humidity. Tiny eco-systems develop in these spaces - water is introduced to create humidity, which in turn attracts frogs which eat the insects that attempt to feed on the mushrooms. Symbiotic nature in action!

Fungi cultivation naturally eco-efficient

The cultivation of these mushrooms using the containers is incredibly eco-efficient. The containers are diverted from the dump; invasive alien trees are felled for use as the substrate; and the sensitive nature of the produce means that absolutely zero contaminants (like pesticides and herbicides) are used in the production. On top of this, mushrooms are extremely water efficient, and between the seven containers, only 50 litres of water is used daily. Peter also reclaims all unsold produce from outlets and dehydrates the unspoiled mushrooms for storage and later reuse.

Opportunities for community upliftment

It is partly because of this low-input high-output system that the Department of Trade and Industry approached Peter two years ago about starting a community development mushroom-growing initiative. Peter, who firmly believes that his grandchildren will not have a future unless we create as many jobs as possible, as soon as possible, jumped at the opportunity to help. As of February 2011 there are three separate community operations underway: one each in Danoon, Worcester and Sir Lowry’s Pass Village. Peter assists these projects by finding customers and providing marketing assistance. However, Peter says that the projects are in desperate need of basic business skills if they are to grow into sustainable ventures.

Peter also has a host of other ideas for micro-farming community initiatives using the containers, believing that “food production is the mantra of the future”.

Note: Anyone looking for a lucrative and efficient little business investment can get their own exotic mushroom container and start-up kit for R250,000.

Benefits of African Gourmet Mushrooms

  • 100% organically grown (free of all contaminants and chemicals).
  • Re-uses scrapped shipping containers.
  • Very water-efficient compared to other food sources.
  • Supports community development and job creation initiatives.
  • Shitake mushrooms have medicinal properties and are known immune system boosters.

Historical facts and medical benefits of shitake mushrooms

Opportunity to grow mushrooms

Anyone looking for a lucrative and efficient little business investment can get their own exotic mushroom container and start-up kit for R250,000. Watch the following video clip for more information.

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