This Type of Farming Does Not Require “Mush” Room

Mushrooms are a sustainable, nutritious, and delicious food source for cold and windy climates.

Næmingar: Odmar Farøe and Luis Pellecer Jr.
Útbúgving: West Nordic Studies, Governance and Sustainable Management

The Faroe Islands’ climate and landscape is rather hostile to large-scale agriculture. The cloudy and dark days, constant rain, rocky terrain, and regular strong winds make it difficult to cultivate much vegetation. So what can we do about it? Well, we could find something other than Faroese people that can thrive in this dark, wet, and windy environment; Enter: Mushrooms!

To understand the process, we will begin by defining some important terminology:

Mycelium– the live, white-fungus looking bacterial colony at the bottom of a mushroomstub.

Spawn– white, fibrous matter which forms from mycelium, making the foundation for mushroom growth.

Innoculate– to plant, or impregnate. Substrate- growing medium. Such as coffee grounds, hay, barley, soil, etc.

Pasteurization– a process that kills microbes in food and drink.

Fruiting– part of the sexual phase of the fungi life cycle, this is when the “pins” form, prior to full growth.

Firstly, the spawn in which the mushrooms are to grow need to be inoculated in a chosen substrate. What we mean by this is that the spawn must be planted in a chosen medium, in this case the oyster mushroom spawn were inoculated in pasteurised Icelandic hay, obtained from a local ranch in Torshavn. The inoculated spawn were then placed in a cold, damp and dark place, in our case a basement, ensuring optimal conditions for mushrooms to grow. Throughout the process, careful attention must be paid to sterilization. We used store-bought rubbing alcohol to wipe down everything: working surfaces, our hands, equipment, growing bucket, plastic bags, and anything else that could come into contact with the vulnerable spawn.

We did not, however, harvest any mushrooms. It appears that some contamination reached our bags/bucket. Rather than having healthy mushroom caps growing from the holes, we have a sortof cobweb-mold which dominated the substrate. We do not know when and where the contamination may have happened, but recommend that future attempts pay more careful attention to sterilization.

We hope that this project will help pave the way for more effective, future projects. Mushrooms are very much a viable food option for the Faroe Islands as little to no outside materials are needed for them to grow. They have the potential to become a locally produced staple of the Faroese diet and possible export item.

Currently, the Faroe Islands imports most of its food, which highlights an overdependence on foreign supply chains. We must then take seriously, the possibility of one day having those supply chains threatened, leaving the locals dependant on local food production. Currently, and possibly the main reason for such high import levels, the climate in the Faroe Islands makes it difficult to consistently farm the land. This project, however, aims to turn this environment into a positive. We asked ourselves, “what grows well in this environment?”.

And so, we decided to try growing mushrooms. Oyster mushrooms are known for the lenient conditions in which they thrive and the short time needed for them to grow. Furthermore, they are a common and edible mushroom used in numerous recipes worldwide. Thus, it was concluded that this was an appropriate place from which to initiate our project.