Bengalureans, Learn How to Grow Mushrooms in Just 6 Hours at This Unique Workshop

Bengalureans, Learn How to Grow Mushrooms in Just 6 Hours at This Unique Workshop

Learn how to grow oyster mushrooms in your backyard using easy techniques in less than six hours! #Growyourownfood


When Vinay Parade visited Kodaikanal in 2016, he knew that the next time he comes back, it would be to stay permanently.

Vinay was visiting Karuna Farm, and he loved the off-the-grid life of the community residing there. “Visiting Karuna farms, I fell in love with the forests. The locals had converted a potato farm into an agroforest. Here, the community was growing avocados, guavas, oranges, passion fruit, and cherries among others,” he says.

Learn how to grow oyster mushrooms in your backyard using easy techniques in less than six hours! Book your slot at this awesome workshop, here.

Participants at a mushroom growing workshop organised by Vinay

Four months after visiting the farm, he quit his job in Bengaluru and moved to Kodaikanal. Since his big move, he has engaged with the local community, learnt how to farm and even built a home for himself. “It took me almost two years to build my home here. I constructed it with natural materials like stone and mud,” he shares proudly.

The 38-year-old is an expert at growing mushrooms and has been conducting workshops at Kodaikanal and across the country.

Two years ago, Vinay along with his friend Nagesh Anand, started experimenting with growing mushrooms with very little investment.

“Mushrooms have been on this planet for over a billion years even before humans existed and we know so little about them. They are a keystone species to enable the continuation of life on this planet,” he says.

Moreover, he adds that mushrooms are nutritionally-rich food and an easy crop to grow. They need just five per cent water to grow as compared to other food crops. “Mushrooms do not need any light and constant watering to grow. Most importantly, we recycle agricultural waste from growing mushrooms to create a food source for other crops,” says Vinay.

Why mushrooms and what to expect at the workshop?

Mushrooms grown using the technique that Vinay and his friend experimented with

The process that they use for teaching is simple for even school children to start growing mushrooms, asserts Vinay.

“We found a zero energy consumption method of sterilising that could be suitable and sustainable for growing mushrooms. We promote this through workshops where we encourage people to experiment on their own,” he says.

He then goes on to explain the process that he and his friend developed. They use a unique method where they make a mixture comprising of sterilised straw (residue of crops like rice) and mushroom spawn. The method they came up with uses limestone mixed with water to sterilise the straw.

This is more efficient than the conventional method that requires heating the straw at very high temperatures for long hours.

Vinay explains that since they use limestone in the process, the mushrooms they grow is also high in calcium content. After being successful in their endeavours, he realised that it is something that they can easily teach farmers who can earn a good price selling the mushrooms. A kilo of oyster mushroom can fetch anyone about Rs. 200 which is much higher than button mushrooms that fetch about Rs. 120 to 150 in the market.

Participants at the workshop holding the mixture used for growing mushrooms

Anyone willing to attend the workshop can expect an overview of the mushroom life cycle and grow oyster mushrooms at home in little space. He would also share ideas on how we can use mushrooms for land restoration and cleaning pollution from water bodies.

Life and activities at Kodaikanal

In a bid to help the farmers in Kodaikanal, Vinay along with his friend Ashwin Khasnis started a trust in June this year naming it ‘Prayogashala’. The objective of the trust is to promote reforestation projects, promote agroforestry and help farmers move away from chemical farming towards something more organic. Additionally, they are also working to make safety equipment more accessible to farmers as they are at health risks due to spraying pesticides and herbicides.

Vinay with a participant at a oyster mushroom workshop that was organised in January this year

He has also been teaching these farmers the basics of myco-permaculture to help them understand how growing mushrooms can be useful. They also make organic fertilisers available to farmers and also teach them how to prepare it. One example he states is that of ‘panchagavya’ that is prepared using cow dung, cow urine, milk, curd and ghee. This mixture helps in attaching good microbes to the soil, which helps in easier absorption of nutrients.

He has already started growing different fruit trees in his three-acre farm and has been selling this produce in cities like Madurai, Mumbai among others.

This is not the first time that Vinay has made such a big move. In the early 2000s, after pursuing a degree in Computer Science Engineering and working in the IT sector for a year in Mumbai, he quit that profession to pursue his passion for photography.

He has also worked with a lot of e-commerce startups setting up their studios and training photographers. He was also a visiting faculty for photography at NIFT, Mumbai.and other places too. A self-taught photographer, he continues to take up shooting assignments once in a while.

Learn how to grow oyster mushrooms in your backyard using easy techniques in less than six hours! Book your slot at this awesome workshop, here.

“Moving here, I started to learn more about a sustainable life with our natural world and learn life skills that we have forgotten as a collective in the cities. Now, I see growing our own food as the only effective act of rebellion against the monster of consumerism that threatens our human existence on this planet,” he signs off.

(Edited by Saiqua Sultan)

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