The Fungi Folks

We believe in:

  • Low impact, sustainable, circular, and resilient systems
  • Organic and regenerative farming
  • Native UK mushroom strains
  • A more just food system
  • Connecting people and developing community through the almighty power of mycelium!

Who we are

Ben Gibson

Having fallen deeper and deeper down the Fungal rabbit hole over the past few years, Ben is committed to sharing his enthusiasm for this diverse Kingdom of life. He hopes to invite people into the fantastical world of Fungi, encouraging engagement with, and connection to these beautiful and mysterious organisms.

Dewi James

Resident elder of the Fungi Folks team and a life-long explorer of nature, Dewi brings a wealth of experience to the table. In his role, he supports the production team, lending not only a helping hand but also offering valuable and sound words of advice to enrich the collective knowledge and passion for the fascinating world of fungi.

David Gibson

Dave, Fungi Folks' CTO, loves tech and has a deep passion for mushrooms. His fascination extends beyond codes, driving him to create a captivating website mirroring his enthusiasm. With technical expertise and mycological curiosity, Dave cultivates a digital space for exploration and learning.

Large edible mushroom on a hand

Why Mushrooms?

Mushrooms are incredible functional foods.

They are high in protein, low in calories, rich in vitamins, minerals, and other bioactive medicinal compounds – and of course very tasty. They are enjoyed in their myriad forms in other cultures as a matter of tradition spanning centuries, whereas we in the West are a little late to the fungal party...

Fungi are nature's master chemists.

They produce a fantastic array of bioactive compounds. In this sense, researchers across the globe have been investigating the health potential of mushrooms for many decades now, only beginning to scratch the surface of the possible applications.

The medicinal use of fungi stretches far back into history.
Modern scientific studies serve to reinforce the knowledge gained from centuries upon centuries of experience. Much of this wisdom comes from different Asian medicinal traditions, however many of the species described are also native to the UK.

Our vision is guided by mycelium

Bioregional

Fungi are incredible – they are the hidden driver of ecosystems, pervading every corner of this earth from the driest deserts to the deepest seas. Their function within ecosystems is principally to recycle. They skirt the boundary between life and death, reconstituting dead organic (and inorganic) matter into new life. In this way, they create the soil and in doing so they are the source of our sustenance. In the same way, fungi can perform a similar role in human culture and systems.

They can take "waste", and transform it into something alive: mushrooms! We are facilitating this by growing mushrooms using sawdust from the local sawmill, Wentwood Timber Centre. Where possible, we integrate into the local ecosystem of our Bioregion, using local by-products to grow mushrooms. In doing so we honour the transformative power of fungi to create new life from what is accessible nearby.

Circular Economies

Life is circular and fungal decomposition is the driving force behind the cycles of the biosphere. By making use of by-products, we take a cradle-to-cradle,  rather than a cradle-to-grave approach. There are many ways in which the by-products of mushroom cultivation can bring new life. One possibility we have decided to explore is vermicompost… worms love mycelium! Spent substrate is mixed with organic manure and the worms are left to work their magic.


One mushroom we grow is rather different from the rest – Cordyceps. It belongs to a different phylum on the evolutionary tree from all the other mushrooms we grow, and has a different natural substrate – insects! We grow it in trays on organic brown rice supplemented with a nutrient broth. Studies have shown the beneficial effects of using this spent Cordyceps substrate as a supplement to animal feeds. We therefore intend to provide this spent Cordyceps substrate to local animal farmers, to promote health, and stimulate a healthy immune system.

Circular economies must go beyond solely material considerations, to create economies that value people too. We follow principles of conviviality to guide this: bio-interaction via bioregional integration, adaptability, relatedness, appropriateness and accessibility by taking an open source approach of sharing our processes with the community. This involves being accountable for our impact and in the long term we will be researching and mitigating our carbon and social footprints.

Local

Our food system relies upon increasingly elaborate and complex supply chains that span the globe. This ‘just in time’ system upon which our supermarkets operate is inherently unstable and during the COVID-19 pandemic, we experienced it’s precarious nature.

Local food systems are inherently more resilient, more sustainable in the face of the coming crises, have lower fossil fuel inputs in distribution, and help to weave together local communities.

Supporting local farms keeps money within local economies, creates jobs for local people, and does not fund the unseen exploitation of labour and degradation of the land in distant countries through industrial agricultural practices. Sometimes we do use inputs from afar; we make sure to pay a premium for quality products that value food producers.

Sustainability

When thinking about sustainability and environmental impact, mushrooms are a fantastic crop. Compared with other crops they require a tiny amount of water, they can be farmed vertically and so use very little space, they have very low energy input, and grow on many  abundantly available by-products. It is our duty as mushroom farmers to harness the incredible power of these organisms to transform materials perceived as waste  (sawdust/straw/etc.) into high quality nutrient dense food.

Our farm is powered in part by an on-site solar array, and we are experimenting in ways we can reduce our impact and dependence on extractive and polluting fossil fuel based energy systems. One example of this is that we are using waste sawdust to power our mushroom substrate sterilizer. This is usually done with high powered electric elements, but our trials with sawdust have been very promising so far!

Another avenue we intend to investigate is the use of compost power to generate hot water to heat our farm and methane (natural gas) to be used as fuel. This is a brief look into some ideas and developments we are pursuing at the moment, with many more things to tinker away with in the future… in any case, we will be calculating the greenhouse gas emissions we accrue and taking measures to offset them.

Medicinal Mushroom Course Foraging in the woods

Community

Fungi are nature’s connectors. The ‘root’ system of fungi – mycelium – exists as a branching matrix of cells, weaving its way through the soil, connecting the vast majority of plants together in a giant, dynamic, decentralised network.

In this sense, we strive to mirror the fungi by connecting and empowering people and communities. Through helping to organise events such as the first Fungi Fest held in Autumn 2022, we aim to grow the mycelial network of mushroom folk.

Through holding courses, we intend to share the skills and knowledge of fungal cultivation and tincture making to make it accessible and adaptable. Our aim is to inspire people to get involved in mushroom cultivation, connect with one another and with the land through working with fungi.

Mushroom Benefits

Modern studies and a long history of traditional use have indicated that mushrooms can offer natural immune support, stress relief, improved cognitive function, and promote overall well-being through a range of bioavailable compounds. Here are some of the potential indications:
  • Cordyceps: Energy, endurance, respiratory health, general vitality
  • Lion’s Mane: Focus, memory, general cognition, and gut health
  • Reishi: Stress relief, adaptogenic, sleep, immune modulation
  • Shiitake: Immune support, cardiovascular health, rich in vitamins and minerals

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