AUSTRALIA’S MUSHROOM INDUSTRY
The origin of commercial mushroom growing in Australia can be traced back to 1933 in disused railway tunnels under Sydney – including the incomplete Circular Quay to St James line. In the late 1930’s the mushroom industry moved outdoors to the Hawkesbury district when growers created the first raised beds in open fields, covered by nothing more than straw and hessian bags.
It was hard going, with low yields and fragile mushroom crops at the mercy of Australia’s weather extremes. Relying on the expertise and hard work of newly-arrived migrants, the Australian mushroom industry became a reality.
With growing techniques in the 1940s and 50s still largely unchanged from the methods used in 19th Century Europe, mushrooms were very much a seasonal crop in Australia, produced during the cooler months.
It wasn’t until the 1960s that modern mushroom farming emerged on a world-wide basis. In 1961, 18 growers attended a meeting in Parramatta to discuss the future of the mushroom industry.
From these humble beginnings, the Australian Mushroom Growers Association (AMGA) was formed.
Committed to mushroom growers and the mushroom industry, the mission of the AMGA is simple: to provide wholesome food for the community.
In 2012, Australian Mushroom Growers celebrated 50 years of growing together.
Mushrooms are the sixth most valuable horticultural crop grown in Australia with 80% of Australian households regularly purchasing fresh mushrooms.
In the 1970s, most mushrooms eaten in Australia were sold in cans.
Today, we eat 95% of our mushrooms fresh!
As a nation, we love mushrooms; the taste, the simplicity, the versatility – mushrooms truly are the great all-rounder. In the 21st Century, the motivation for eating mushrooms is beginning to change. Over the next decade, the number 1 reason for people eating mushrooms every day will be health.
In fact, compared to most fresh vegetables, mushrooms are naturally better. Don’t be in the dark about the power of mushrooms check the facts for yourself.
One of the growing trends in our community is the move back to locally grown produce. Weekend Farmer’s Markets are thriving, as is the demand for organic produce. Of the 77 mushroom growers in Australia, most are located near our capital cities, with around 30% of national production based in the Hawkesbury area near Sydney.
The mushroom industry is also the ultimate recycler. Mushroom food is made from wheat straw, poultry litter, other organic materials, gypsum and water. When carefully combined, they provide the perfect nutrient-rich medium for production of high-quality mushrooms.
Once the mushroom crop is harvested, the mushroom substrate goes back into the environment as a highly sought-after potting mix and garden mulch. The cycle is complete.