Margin’s Mushrooms started off as a bit of an experiment to see if a cool room from our old ice cream factory would be suitable for us to grow mushrooms.
On the way through this journey, I met Neal Marland, a third generation mushroom farmer whose family have been in the commercial mushroom farming business from almost the start of the industry. Neal took the time to show me their state of the art farm.
Looking back on this now, this is what inspired me to do a lot better job of setting up the rooms than I was originally going to do. Having invested so much time into getting a good set up to grow mushrooms in, it was then important to learn how to grow them.
I put in the effort had some successes and failures and great support from the industry and Neal Marland.
I have always read a lot. I use to read Australia history, war history, novels and the newspaper every day. For the last few years all I read is mushroom cultivation books, back issues of the Australian Mushroom Growers Association magazine, online information and articles on mushrooms.
In June 2011 we expanded our operation into the old Woy Woy Abattoirs which had been closed and unused for 7-8 years.
The whole family jumped in and helped with the set up. My wife Christine finished her work, managing a coffee shop, and joined the business full time, My eldest son Charlie held his part time job but worked full time on the mushroom farm. Our youngest son George was doing his final year at school so he was hard to get hold of but helped out whenever he could.
We had a team going for a couple of months. Fred Nichols the owner of the abattoirs pitched in and helped every day, My mother made lunches for everyone and my father helped me all day everyday for months while we recycled the cool rooms into our mushroom farm.
We produced our first crop in 2011 rolling out room 2 about a month later. After a few more months we commissioned room 3 and about 2 years later we commissioned Room 4.
Along the way we have continued to tune up our mushroom growing skills. We have a collaborative approach to this where we discuss our growing decision so we all benefit from the experience.