Famous Devon TV Mushroom Farm Reveals Expansion Plans
The owners of the famous Devon mushroom farm – which featured on ITV’s James Martin’s Islands to Highlands – have announced expansion plans that could see a new, state-of-the-art mushroom farm being built on the outskirts of Dawlish.
Scott Marshall and his partner Becca Bond started Forest Fungi in Warren Road, Dawlish Warren nine years ago after Scott realized the nutritional benefits of mushrooms after being diagnosed with testicular cancer.
After quickly realizing the big difference between imported specialty mushrooms and freshly picked ones, he decided to quit his senior management role at DFS and start growing his own gourmet mushrooms.
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As the climate in Devon is very different from where mushrooms grow wild in Asia, the farm has Shroom Rooms which recreate similar conditions.
No chemicals are used during the growing process and the mushrooms are grown on sawdust and rye blocks which are certified organic.
The farm, which also has its own shop and cafe and offers ‘U-pick’ tours, currently produces around a ton of mushrooms per week – 95% of which are sold across Devon and are used by top chefs and renowned restaurateurs. .
In July, he also opened an additional store and cafe, Forest Fungi Ashburton, in July Linhay Business Park.
However, Scott and Becca now want to make their mushrooms available nationwide and increasing productivity means having to build another mushroom farm elsewhere to function alongside their current farm.
Revealing how his love for mushrooms started, Scott said, âI’ve always loved mushrooms and picked and studied them.
âA few years before setting up the farm, I was diagnosed with testicular cancer and had to undergo chemotherapy. post-chemotherapy immunity.
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âThe more I looked at things, the more positive benefits I found. The mushrooms in supermarkets are usually grown in China, partially dried and imported. I tasted a fresh shiitake and thought it was a world apart.
âMy cancer diagnosis was a wake-up call, so I started to start my own mushroom business. Luckily, we found an abandoned greenhouse that no one else wanted, so we got it very cheaply. We opened a grow room and farm store run by just me and Becca. “
Over the years, the reputation of the farm and its offer have continued to grow. A major boost came when he appeared on celebrity chef James Martin’s ITV show Highlands to Islands.
However, the timing of its airing could have been better. The program was screened right at the start of the lockdown, so the store was not open to customers.
The shutdown did have some benefits though as it gave Scott and Becca time to build more grow rooms, which they wouldn’t have had time to do otherwise.
They are now at full capacity, which is why expansion plans are in place to allow Forest Fungi to spread its wings outside Devon, but without compromising quality or ethics.
Scott said: âThe new site will be much more high-tech with more specialized buildings and equipment. We partnered with a local farm owner to secure a large plot and run the business on a larger national level.
The first phase of the opening of the new site will see Forest Fungi capable of producing five tonnes of organic mushrooms per week.
Scott said: “These are crazy and exciting times, especially since the mushroom market is really booming.”
A decision on the urban planning request is imminent in the coming weeks. If the plans are approved, it is hoped that the new site will be operational by next March.
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