Story & photo by Kate O’Neill
Seven years ago, Gary Miller was commuting three hours a day from Uki to his software programming job in Beenleigh.
‘It was manageable, but when the business moved even further away to the Brisbane CBD, I knew something had to change.’
In between the long commutes Gary had taken a course in mushroom growing, which he immediately took a shine to. Maybe, just maybe, he could make it work…
After much trial and error he eventually did make it work; leaving the office to start his own mushroom business, Wollumbin Gourmet Mushrooms.
Gary now sells his home grown mushrooms at local farmers markets, including a regular stall at the New Brighton Farmers Market on Tuesdays.
He has several varieties, including White Oysters, Shiitakes and Shimeji (year-round); Nameko, King Oyster and Native Blues and Greys in winter; and in summer, Pink and Yellow Oysters.
Gary also makes grow-at-home mushroom logs.
All of Gary’s mushrooms are grown outdoors in the forest at his Uki property, a stark contrast to the way many commercial mushrooms are grown – in highly controlled indoor environments.
Gary says just letting nature do the work is his thing. ‘When I first started I didn’t have anything to grow them in, I was trying to make greenhouses and that sort of thing, but nothing worked. In the end I gave up. I took everything out, and threw it down into the forest. Next week I came home from work and they were just everywhere.’
Gary’s method of outdoor cultivation means supply can be highly variable. He says moon cycles, tides, equinoxes and the weather all influence growth, and that’s simply the reality of growing aligned with nature.
He says watching mushrooms grow is something he’ll never get tired of. ‘When you go down there into the forest and see them growing and getting bigger, it’s just amazing.’