The Queensland couple farming in the city
WHILE some ideas start with a seed, it was a "grow your own mushroom" kit that did it for Amy Christensen and Mickey Pascoe, the Brisbane couple behind the inner-city mushroom farm Little Acre Gourmet Mushrooms.
"When we discovered mushroom growing kits, we grew one on our kitchen bench successfully and thought well hey, here's food you can grow in your house," Amy says.
The couple, who are engaged, then discovered that many mushroom species were only available from overseas imported sources - thus revealing a gap in the market.
"It's the perfect thing to farm in the city," says Amy, who has a background in graphic design.
"We thought we could provide a local source, meaning fresher, high-quality mushrooms because they didn't have to travel thousands of kilometres before making it to your plate. And it all grew from there," Amy said.
Amy, 27, and Mickey, 30, who previously worked in marine science, trialled the concept in late 2017 and began delivering mushrooms from their "farm" where they live in West End in April last year.
The mushrooms are grown inside shipping containers on organic waste such as sugar cane mulch and hardwood sawdust.
"Growing indoors gives you the advantage of being able to control the climate and growing conditions, something that is and will continue to be a real challenge for food production in the future," she says.
They now supply more than 20 restaurants and cafes in Brisbane including Arc Dining, Donna Chang, Blackbird Bar & Grill, Wild Canary, La Lune Wine Co, and Newstead Brewing Co.
The Little Acre Gourmet Mushrooms' core range includes pink oysters, golden oysters, white oysters, king browns, shiitake, lion's mane and cinnamon caps.
But it's not only about growing and supplying mushrooms; the couple also focuses on education as the unique food often divides opinion.
"Most people in Australia have grown up with only one mushroom to experience - the common button or field mushroom," Amy says.
"Believe it or not, button, field, swiss brown, portobello - these are all the same species of mushroom just picked at different stages or grown in different conditions to alter their appearance and intensity of flavour.
"The mushroom species we grow are tree mushrooms; they are all different species and they each have their own flavour and texture. They don't taste earthy or dirty because they aren't grown in compost, they grow on clean hardwood.
"Some taste sweet, nutty, savoury, meaty, they are all different, so our advice would be don't be afraid - give them a go and you might just find the perfect mushroom for you."
And her favourite? Well, that would be the king brown.
"They are the tastiest and really versatile. My favourite way to eat them is in Mickey's creamy mushroom pasta, a staple dinner in our house," she says.
Mickey, on the other hand, goes for the gold oysters because of their amazing bright yellow colour and nutty, cashew-like taste.
Little Acre Mushrooms' masterclasses ($155, from Sep) teach easy, low-tech methods of growing mushrooms at home.
Find Little Acre Mushrooms at the Davies Park Market, cnr Montague Rd & Jane St, West End, every Saturday.