Little Bunyip Mushrooms grow

Just 18 months ago, Chris Nuss and his partner Ella McHenry chose to make the Clare Valley their home. 

Chris Nuss, Ella McHenry and their seven-month old daughter daughter Sylvia, with beetroot micro-greens, radish micro-greens and pink oyster mushrooms.

Chris Nuss, Ella McHenry and their seven-month old daughter daughter Sylvia, with beetroot micro-greens, radish micro-greens and pink oyster mushrooms.

But it would be more than just a home as they moved to begin a small-scale farm and set up Little Bunyip Mushrooms. 

The couple met in Alice Springs where they took on the challenge of setting up a date farm, in a cooperative situation.

There they completed two seasons before heading south to Clare. 

“From doing that we decided we really loved growing food,” Ms McHenry said. 

They soon decided the Clare Valley would be their home. 

The couple looked at various products to find what would work best in their situation – no water allocation and something with a quick turnaround. 

It was soon decided oyster mushrooms would be best.

“When we did some market research there did not seem to be many people doing it (growing mushrooms),” Mr Nuss said. 

“There seems to be a gap in the market.”

Completely self-taught, the couple have overcome a range of hurdles to get to where they are.

The couple took a chance and decided to follow their passion.

“You just have to have a go,” Ms McHenry said.

You won’t know what you need to know until you do it.

“Be cheerful about being poor, it’s a skill and it’s a valuable skill. Being thrifty is a virtue,.”

Mr Nuss completed an online course to kick-start the business and it has been a learning curve along the way. 

The set up often takes over the bathroom – the perfect breeding ground for the mushroom culture – to the cool room, where an air conditioner is set up to control temperature. 

“That’s why we have an air conditioner in the shed and not in the house,” Ms McHenry said. 

It takes about 60 days from breaking up the culture from one petri dish to several, to harvest. 

Mr Nuss said they also hoped to build some underground mushroom growing areas.

The couple have since expanded to include micro-greens to their list of products. 

Three months into their dream, they sold their first batch of oyster mushrooms.

“All the chefs up here have been really great...people have been really supportive,” Ms McHenry said. 

Currently, Little Bunyip Mushrooms supplies Skillogalee, Sevenhill Hotel, Wild Saffron, Seed Winehouse & Kitchen, Pauletts, Terroir Auburn, Rising Sun Hotel and the Watervale Store. 

They also recently featured on the SBS series Andy & Ben Travel Australia. The couple visits the Barossa Farmers Market fortnightly, the next visit is April 1. 

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