The secret life of mushrooms

The secret life of mushrooms

Smart Farmer News
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A couple in Orange, NSW, is discovering food on the land and making a decent buck in the process.

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SLIPPERY CUSTOMERS: Into The Woods Foraging has found mushrooms like these slippery jacks in the woods around Orange, NSW.

SLIPPERY CUSTOMERS: Into The Woods Foraging has found mushrooms like these slippery jacks in the woods around Orange, NSW.

A couple in Orange, NSW, is discovering food on the land and making a decent buck in the process.

Emma Bradford and her partner, Andrew Deasey, started Into The Woods Foraging four months ago.

While the business might be in its infant stage, its birth was certainly a long time in the making.

Ms Bradford, born in Sweden, was only two years old when her mother took her wild mushroom foraging for the first time.

Last year, Ms Bradford realised saffron milk caps and slippery jacks grow in Australia the same way they do in Sweden.

Once autumn arrived, Ms Bradford and Mr Deasey kicked off their business with a focus on those two species.

"You can grow and farm oysters, enokis, shiitakes and all those little gourmet ones you see in the supermarket," Mr Deasey said.

"The saffron milk caps and slippery jacks only grow under pine trees, so you need to have that symbiotic relationship.

"Since you can only get them in the wild, you just have to walk around to find these spots and have a nice stroll in the fresh air while you're doing it."

The pair currently forages twice a week through a few forests in the Orange area.

"We look for the freshest ones possible, but we leave some behind so they keep growing," Ms Bradford said.

"I think it's important not to be greedy."

Ms Bradford believes some people would find wild mushrooms overpowering.

"If there is such thing as a gamey flavour to a mushroom, the ones we pick have got it," Mr Deasey said.

"You don't even need to have meat with them.

"If we have a fresh patch we don't sell straight away, we dry or freeze the mushrooms to preserve them."

The pair are often approached by people who are keen to know where the wild mushrooms live or are unsure what to do with them.

"We don't want to keep this all to ourselves," Ms Bradford said.

"We would love to educate people on how to preserve things and how much we can get from mother earth.

"If you have the knowledge to do something, go out and do it."

Ms Bradford said wild mushroom foraging feels like a quest for gold.

"Sometimes, you walk around for ages and find nothing. Then it's there and it's just an amazing feeling," she said.

  • Jarrod Sansom is the 2019 winner of the JB Fairfax Award for Rural and Regional Journalism. As part of the award he interned at The Land's Orange office last month. The Land is a media partner and sponsor of this award.
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