The Mushroom Experience

Mushrooms, or fungi, belong to a group of living things quite distinct from all other plants in that they have no chlorophyll. Therefore they must feed by breaking down and consuming dead matter or invading living organisms.

ClathrusVentnor Botanic Garden

This decay process builds the soil and nutrients for the plant kingdom. New research is showing that mycelium, small threads sent out great distances through the soil by fungi, form part of the mycorrhizal relationships that sustain ecosystems.

The majority of fungi, like most majority plants or animals, are inedible, not worthwhile or even poisonous. However, the mushrooms we grow in our Fruiting Chamber are very edible indeed.

Oyster MushroomsVentnor Botanic Garden

The practice of their cultivation is well honed and people are becoming more accustomed to these unusual mushrooms on their plates. The Fruiting Chamber is hidden in the underground coal and boiler caverns of the old hospital.

Though they are in fact decay fungi which feed on plant remains or wood, yellow, grey and red oyster (Pleurotus ostreatus) are delicious, having been selected by growers over many years.

Cage mushroomVentnor Botanic Garden

The mushrooms then make their way to the restaurant or the dehydrator to be vacuum packed and distributed across the Island. VBG is also host to a number of naturally occurring fungi.

Since this Victorian discovery the fungus has crossed the Solent and is appearing in increasingly northern climes, further evidence from the Fungi Kingdom of climate change.

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