Recycle & Grow

July 27th, 2017
Recycle & Grow
First it was the disposable coffee cups and now it’s the coffee grounds.

Aldgate man Daryl Clarke’s mushroom growing kits utilise used coffee grounds, turning them into actual growing grounds that spawn oyster mushrooms.

“Coffee grounds are full of nutrients,” Daryl said.

“The story of the coffee grounds is that all the water, transport, energy and food miles that’s put into the coffee beans - only one per cent ends up in the cup.”

“The other 99 percent of the nutrients, time and energy is ditched, however the coffee grounds are full of good nutrients for oyster mushrooms.”

In just three short years Daryl Clarke has taken his ingenious idea to reduce coffee grounds waste and turned it into a flourishing business.

“It comes from an interest in sustainable agriculture and recognising how much waste comes out of retailers,” Daryl said.
“I’ve been researching for about three years with different types of mushrooms and I found that oyster mushrooms such as blue oysters and grey oysters in particular like growing in coffee grounds.”

Daryl’s paired up with Adelaide’s Abatage Studios to create the growing kit and brand the business, Fun Guy Fungi.

“Josh from Abatage did the design and I worked with another group to make the box,” Daryl said.

That group is local manufacturer Custom Cartons, who have been producing the boxes from recycled cardboard, further contributing to the sustainability of the product.

Daryl’s mushroom kits have been a work in progress for the past three years.

“This project has been ticking away in the background, my usual job is running an IT company so this has been on the sidelines,” he said.

In June, Fun Guy Fungi finally came to fruition officially launching at the World Environment Fair at the Wayville showgrounds.

“I sold out on the second day and since then I’ve sold everything I’ve made so it’s going quite well,” Daryl said.

“In the last 12 months I’ve taken it to Melbourne too - there is a warehouse there making them and obviously I’m doing them here in Aldgate.”

The prospect of growing your own produce may be a little intimidating for those who weren’t born with a green thumb, however Daryl says the kits are easy to use.

“You open the cardboard box up and cut a hole in the bag that’s inside, then all you have to do is keep it moist,” he said.

“It can be on the kitchen shelf or anywhere, as long as it’s out of direct sunlight so it doesn’t dry out.”

“Basically it’s all there in the box - you’re buying a mini mushrooms farm and your only job is to keep it moist.

“After two to three weeks mushrooms will grow, they come in flushes so you pick them off as you need them over a couple of months.

“You should get up to a kilo of gourmet oyster mushrooms, which is quite a lot.

“When it’s finished fruiting you compost it in your garden.

“The coffee grounds are good for the garden and keep bugs and slugs away instead of using pesticide.

“The only part that can’t go in the compost is the bag but we’re working on creating a biodegradable bag that works with the mushrooms.”

Daryl has garnered the support of many local businesses, eager to contribute to the environmentally sustainable project.

“I get recycled coffee from the Organic Market and all the usual suspects,” Daryl said.

“The cafes are very willing and some have even approached me.

“They are obviously mindful of their organic waste and can see a positive in up-cycling their waste - it’s good for everyone.”

Patch Garden and Kitchen in Stirling both donate their coffee grounds to Daryl and sell his mushrooms growing kits.

“I think it’s a really great idea, at Patch we love the idea of recycling our coffee grounds because we have a lot of them!” Patch owner Ben Barnett said.

“It’s good to be able to support a local fella, with a local idea, using local grounds.”

Patch have only been stocking the kits for a short time, but already they’ve had a great public response.

“We sold three in the first day – people are very interested in them,” Ben said.

“To be able to lean over and pick mushrooms from the box to then cook in your own kitchen is great. My five year old son is really keen to grow them too.”

Following Daryl’s quick sell-outs it’s clear the kits resonate with customer’s wants and needs.

“I’ve been getting a lot of photos and feedback from people who’ve been sharing their mushrooms, so that’s really lovely.”

Luke Tonkin bought a mushroom growing kit at the World Environmental Fair in June.

“I saw Daryl’s stall and it looked very alluring,” he said.

“I’m a big believer in renewable agriculture and Daryl is one of the few entrepreneurs in Australia that’s getting a foot into it.”

“There’s nothing like fresh mushrooms that you can just pluck from the garden and cook right away – it’s so convenient and the organic product provides so much more nutrients, it’s a real bang for your buck.”

As promised, the growing process has been a breeze and the harvest has been plentiful.

“It’s been really easy, I just put them in a dark spot in the laundry and keep them damp,” Luke said.

“It’s still in the fairly early stages but it’s already spawned about 30 mushrooms – I expect it will quadruple in the next few weeks.”

“I’ll definitely keep buying the kits, it’s a really great initiative and is especially great when you don’t have a big garden.”

Following the success of Fun Guy Fungi Daryl could be forgiven for resting on his laurels, however he’s eager to further the up-cycling trend.

“I’d like to see it expand and have it set up in each city,” he said

“I’d like to explore other kinds of mushrooms and other facets of up-cycling too.”

You can find Daryl’s Fun Guy Fungi growing kits online and at Fred’s Eatery, The Organic Market, Patch Kitchen and Garden and Coopers Farms Supplies.

For more information visit the Fun Guy Fungi Facebook page or http://www.funguyfungi.com.au

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