8 Dec 2017

Meaty Mushrooms

From Country Life, 9:27 pm on 8 December 2017

In 1970, there were fifty mushroom growers in New Zealand – now there are just five. Clive Thompson is one of the stayers. He set up his first growing shed on the Wairarapa property 51 years ago and it now produces 7 tonnes of mushrooms a week.

Clive dabbled with growing mushrooms at home while he was at high school.

"I think I saw a book and it had a picture of a shelf farm and it was a pretty magnificent crop and I thought 'Oh that looks interesting.'"

The sight of a carpet of thousands upon thousands of mushrooms caps, beige against a dark bed of compost, still gives Clive a thrill.

"That's just beautiful isn't it," he says. 'It's pretty amazing."

Clive specialises in growing brown mushrooms.  They can be harvested as brown buttons but, give them a chance, and they'll develop into large flat portobello mushrooms.

He used to grow white mushrooms.

"The market rang me up and said we've got a grower that's got some open brown mushrooms and they seem to be really sought after. So we thought 'oh well', we'd try them.

As it turns out, it was a good move.

"The demand was huge, in fact, they were just about fighting in the market for them."