What started as a school project has now turned into a very impressive business that sells New Zealand native mushrooms and kits, along with workshops, to help others grow their own.
Mushroomate takes the high-risk of extinction for New Zealand fungi seriously, and raising awareness is its biggest inspiration.
Mushroomate co-founder Esperanza Chue Reyes is passionate about New Zealand-grown native mushrooms, and fungal conservation. She’s a food technologist who has experience working at various NZ businesses.
“We are committed to help build what will be New Zealand’s first urban mushroom farm that supports the conservation of our Endemic/Native New Zealand mushrooms for our future generations.”
When Esperanza and her daughter Jersey started the company a lot of research had to be done as mycology was completely new to them.
They started growing oyster mushrooms in their bathroom as they had little garden space, using waste materials like used coffee grounds and recycled or reusable buckets.
Jersey and Esperanza were amazed at the results. Growing oyster mushrooms was straightforward, and they wanted others to try it out.
Covid lockdowns made things difficult for Jersey and Esperanza, as they mainly sold their mushrooms and kits at farmers markets.
To get around this, they took an online approach to selling their kits, deciding to not sell their oyster mushrooms due to courier issues.
They collaborated with other groups, companies, and communities over the past two years, and built relationships with people similar to them.
They also moved into a rural area because they were running out of room to grow more oyster mushrooms. Jersey and Esperanza discovered how to make their mushrooms spawn (mushroom seeds), which means they’ll be able to grow more mushrooms.
Jersey and Esperanza have some future targets in mind for the business.
They plan to cultivate and carry out product development for other types of NZ endemic/native mushrooms like pleurotus pulmonarius (NZ Native Phoenix Oyster Mushroom), Lentinula novae-zelandiae (NZ Native Shiitake mushroom), Hericium novae-zealandiae (NZ Native Pekepeke kiore, or Coral Tooth).
They also want to bring awareness to a traditional Maori food that had been forgotten once by putting their mushrooms into plant-based food products.
They also want to export in the future. However, their biggest goal is to get more people making their own mushrooms that are native to this country.
“Our focus is to encourage Kiwi families, schools, and local communities to choose to grow our NZ endemic/native mushrooms variety rather than imported species. Help us preserve our beautiful endemic/native mushrooms for future generations.”
Proud to be NZ Made
Mushroomate is New Zealand Made because the mother and daughter duo have loved the journey and experience they’ve had making and building the business.
They’re passionate about growing NZ endemic/native mushrooms and cultivating NZ endemic/native varieties, and they’ve loved the support that they’ve had. All its suppliers are NZ-based.
It’s fair to say this mother and daughter duo have had a great adventure growing NZ endemic/native mushrooms, one that they’ve loved and one they will definitely continue.