Shiitake mushrooms are prized for their health benefits. A rich source of selenium, iron, dietary fibre, protein and vitamin C, these exotic mushrooms are now being grown sustainably in Norfolk, as locals will be delighted to know.
Woodfruits of Norfolk, located in the Bure Valley of North Norfolk, is the UK’s only commercial grower of shiitake mushrooms. The firm recently won the environment category at the North Norfolk Business Awards.
Husband and wife team Anton den Engelse and Vicky Riches’ commitment to sustainable production and a low-carbon lifestyle recently won them an environmental award at the North Norfolk Business Awards.
To harvest the shiitake mushrooms, Woodfruits of Norfolk grow the mushrooms on substrate blocks made from barley grain and oak sawdust, a by-product from a nearby sawmill.
Rainwater harvesting is used to supply non-food parts of the growing process, and new ways have been found to re-use single-use plastic mushroom bags at least five times before disposal.
Designed to be a low-waste, low-carbon model of sustainability, a shipping container is used as a fruiting room. Even the walls are made from from a reclaimed Bird’s Eye blast freezer from Lowestoft, saved from landfill.
Much of the timber has come from discarded wooden cladding from cable reels used to connect the Sheringham Shoal offshore wind farm, which were rescued in exchange for a charity donation and used for floor boards, cladding and building frames.
Anton den Engelse and Vicky Riches, who also live on site, endeavour to live a low-waste lifestyle themselves, using an off-grid solar power supply in their own home.
In an interview with Eastern Daily Press, Anton den Engelse explained: “It is not just about reducing waste. It is about preventing redundance. For example, the beauty of using a shipping container is that it has already done its work, so it has paid off its carbon.
“Everything here is done with that in mind. We wanted to create a self-reliant live-work unit.”
Rosa Medea is Life & Soul Magazine’s Chief @rosamedea