There’s nothing like a breakfast of giant mushrooms to start the day, but local grower Martin Martini says growing mushrooms can be a dangerous hobby. ‘You can find yourself driving down the highway with your head out the window scanning the landscapes for fungi!’
‘Once you get your eye in you see them all over the place. Kids are the best mushroom hunters, they are great to take out to the forest. They can see things the adults can’t see.’
Martin says he has found about five different species of native oyster mushroom (otherwise known as Pleurotus) but he says the one he recently found was a whole new ball game. ‘I was out visiting a friend in Upper Main Arm when I saw these white mushrooms growing on an old fallen gum which is unusual, because oyster mushrooms normally like to grow on fig trees.
‘My friend Jason Lau, who is like the Bruce Lee of Australian amateur mushroom circles, cloned it. The fruiting body was as big as my head and I fed it to my mother-in-law and she said it tasted like squid.’
Mullumbimby’s giant fig tree has a new life
Recently Martin salvaged the limbs of a fig tree felled in Mullumbimby and took it home to grown mushrooms on it.
‘Whenever I see people taking down trees, I always wonder what mushroom would like to grow on that wood – I was surprised to see them taking down that giant fig in the middle of town so I had a nice chat with the tree arborists and they said they would put aside some of her branches. I am sure that tree was a she.
‘I Spent my day making several car trips up and down the hill with the arms of that fig – the oyster mushroom I found and Jason cloned in Main Arm will be perfect for growing on those fig branches and will give that tree with all that history a chance to produce food for years to come.’
Martin says he believes mushrooms are going to be a great solution to health, medicine and food production in the future. ‘They are a great protein substitute and taste more complex to me than meat – and in Australia, we are at least a hundred years behind the rest of the world with what we know about our edible fungi.
‘Last time I did the count I had eaten over a hundred wild fungi from around Australia and I feel like that is just the tip of the iceberg as far as what we can eat – the increasing over population of the human race and the fact that we are removing forests to make way for more cattle seems insane when forests could produce mushrooms.
Belly of the World Mushrooms
Martin has started an Instagram account called Belly of the World Mushrooms. ‘My wife had the idea – she said mushrooms are really like the belly or stomach of the world. Without them nothing would be here. Mushrooms are decomposers, they break everything down.
‘I actually believe mushrooms are talking to us and wanting us to produce them – more and more turn up at my place in the landscape every year because I take the time to take an interest in them.’
Martin is not the only one who sees mushrooms as more than just a vegetable – there is a school of thought that believes mushrooms are aliens…
Martin and Jason are running two one-day workshops in Goonengerry this weekend to teach people how to grow fantastic edible mushrooms in their backyards. ‘They are far superior than what you find in the supermarkets and it’s a lot easier than you think to get them growing.’
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