Money in mushrooms

Farmers in the Yorkshire Dales with small areas of broadleaf woodland are being urged to grow gourmet mushrooms to boost their income.


A pilot scheme conducted by the national park authority and Skipton landowner Caroline Moorhouse has just yielded 7kg of Enoki, otherwise known as Chinese winter mushrooms.


Spring crops of Shiitake, Yorkshire Oysters and Chicken of the Woods are on the way and sell for 15-20/kg.


The national park’s Geoff Garrett is hoping the success of the project will inspire other farmers to have a go themselves and encourage them to look after areas which are often left unmanaged and unfenced.


“The problem with these little pieces of land is that they’re usually hilly and rocky so timber is neither an easy nor a lucrative option.


We think anyone who tries this could sell the mushrooms at local farmers markets or direct to B&Bs and hotels, thereby taking advantage of the thriving local tourist trade.”


It costs just 200 to buy a large quantity of dowling-infected mycelium spores – the fungus that produces mushrooms – which growers have to plug into pieces of cut timber.


And even this outlay could be covered by Forestry Commission grants, Mr Garrett said.


* For more details of the scheme, contact Gourmet Woodland Mushrooms on 01964 631868 or click on to Humungus Fungus at www.jac-by-the-stowl.co.uk.