Here at Woodfruit, we have a commitment to producing food with a low environmental impact. The fertilisers and pesticides used in conventional agriculture are energy intensive to produce and transport, and they cause direct damage to our wider ecosystem. We don’t use chemicals in our production process because we don’t believe in them, but also because we simply don’t need them. Our growing methods are based on systems the Japanese and Chinese have developed, adapted for use in the UK by Humungus Fungus. We use a mixture of woodchip, sawdust & organic bran on which to grow, and little else but Devon rainwater. The sawdust is a ‘waste’ product from Greyfield Timber sawmill and Carpenter Oak timber-frame builders – both are flagship sustainable enterprises in their own right. The woodchip comes from woodlands managed for conservation, and Dartington estate’s gardens maintenance. They are all sourced from less than 10 miles away from us, and turned into a valued crop of tasty mushrooms through careful management of the fungi’s growing cycles.
The waste at the end of the process (spent wood blocks) are then used as a biomass fuel in people’s homes or composted and returned to enrich the soil of our neighbour’s organic farm. In essence, we utilise the immense ability of fungi to break down and recycle nutrients, and produce innovative, high quality food at the same time.
The energy we use is on a ‘green tariff’, but realising this isn’t really enough we have bigger and better plans for the future. Once we’ve sold enough mushrooms, we’d really like to get a biomass boiler and take ourselves off-grid. Then we’d have a perfect little growing set up – using our own ‘waste’ to produce heat and electricity for the grow rooms. With wood being the renewable resource that it is, this set up could continue supplying Devon with high quality mushrooms for ever-more. For the time being, we use the best insulated grow rooms possible and keep electricity usage to an absolute minimum.
You will have heard much about local food in recent years. We won’t bang on about it for too long. Suffice to say that locally produced mushrooms use far less of the world’s resources than imported ones. The vast majority of mushrooms on sale in the UK are imported from Holland and China - with an accompanying high contribution in CO2 to our atmosphere. Even some of the UK-based exotic mushroom producers import their bulk growing substrates from Europe or China and merely finish the latter stages of the growing cycle off here. As with much of our food supply, this chain is completely unnecessary: we can do the whole process here – reducing energy usage, recycling abundant ‘waste’ and providing people with an honest income too.
Which brings us nicely to the other great benefit of supporting local food - helping in the much needed task of rejuvenating our rural economy. We know not everyone can afford to buy all their food from local sources all of the time, but by buying from local producers as much as you possibly can you are helping to support the people that live and work around you, and you are helping to keep your money circulating around your local economy - not some corporation's offshore bank account.
In short, we:
- Don’t use chemicals, fertilisers or pesticides
- Grow on little else but locally sourced wood – a 100% renewable resource
- Find an innovative use for a ‘waste’ product of low value (wood waste)
- Our own waste at the end of the grow cycle is composted or used as a woodfuel
- Use a ‘green’ energy tariff and highly insulated grown rooms
- Provide tasty & nutritious food to the local market – reducing food miles and contributing to Devon’s diverse and thriving rural economy.