Scottish farm using mushrooms to decrease greenhouse gas emissions

Mushrooms are being trained to grow on waste in a bid to increase food security in Scotland as well as decrease greenhouse gas emissions. The project began during lockdown to show it is possible for people to grow their own food, even if they do not have a garden. It has resulted in a mushroom 'farm' housed in a 40 feet shipping container in Edinburgh which can produce 30 kg of fungi a month.

Non-profit collective Rhyze Mushrooms is now crowdfunding in order to set up a laboratory where the fungi can be trained to grow and thrive on a wide variety of waste streams. Local wild mushrooms will also be cloned and cultivated. At the moment, their oyster and lion’s mane mushrooms are growing on coffee grounds from nearby cafes as well as sawdust from local carpenters, but mushrooms have previously been used to clean up oil spills and can break down plastics and old clothes that would otherwise end up in the landfill.

Mushroom production is also seen as a way of transitioning to a more sustainable, resilient food system, and central to the collective’s work is supporting more people to grow mushrooms. They will be able to sign up as members and use the community laboratory, with support from Rhyze cultivators and mycologists.

“Lots of people don’t have access to green space, especially in the cities, but we have been growing them in our flats indoors,” said collective member Lauren Waterman. “You can do that quite easily and cheaply, so we are trying to make growing your own food accessible to more people. Cultivation workshops in community centers are a big part of what we want to do so that very low-impact food production is accessible to as many people as possible.”

She added: “Mushrooms are part of the fungal kingdom and play a role in cleaning up waste. That is what they do in nature and they will grow very easily on anything that needs to be decomposed. You can train them to grow on all sorts of things, but coffee grounds are good because they are nutrient-dense and sterilized by boiling water when coffee is made. That way, the mushrooms don’t have to compete with any mold.”

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