Miracle Mushrooms in Merrywalks

A small miracle is happening in what was, until recently, a vacant shop in the Merrywalks centre.  Go and have a look in the window of Unit 23 – just down from King Street on your left.  You will see some cylindrical sacks of aging coffee grounds hanging in the shop window sprouting oyster mushrooms.

oyster mushrooms

Stroud based artist and mushroom enthusiast Dominic Thomas has created Fungusloci which is Gloucestershire’s first urban mushroom micro farm where Oyster mushrooms are cultivated on waste coffee grounds. I was lucky enough to see the workings of the farm last week.  You can also see it on http://www.stroudcommunity.tv/fungusloci/

Fungusloci mushroom farm will divert tons of commercial waste from landfill, using the discarded coffee grounds from local cafes as the growing medium for producing highly-prized, nutritious Oyster mushrooms. Not only is a healthy food produced from this waste, but at the end of the growing process the coffee grounds become a top quality compost, that can go back into the ground and help produce other local foodstuffs.

The mushrooms will be sold through Stroudco and the farmers market and to local cafes and restaurants (including those who contributed the waste coffee grounds) who are all keen to add locally-grown gourmet mushrooms to their menus and produce lists.

Fungusloci have begun collecting from two cafes, Star Anise and Mills. As production expands, coffee will be collected on a daily basis from more town centre cafes by bicycle and trailer.

At the heart of this new town centre enterprise is a sustainable production process, using little energy and having a low environmental impact.  An infrastructure has been created that is portable and could be replicated elsewhere.

Dominic Thomas, Fungusloci’s founder says; ‘the world of fungi is mysterious and fascinating.  I started growing oyster mushrooms using my own coffee grounds three years ago.  Oysters are particularly satisfying and exciting, because they can be cultivated on a variety of waste products, and can fruit in as little as six weeks. There is no waste – when the mushrooms are harvested the coffee has become a rich soil compost.’

Dominic has studied mycology and been cultivating exotic mushrooms on a domestic scale for 10 years.  He offers educational talks and workshops, guided walks, home growing kits, and works with schools and community groups on mushroom-related projects.  Contact Dominic on fungus@cscic.org or 07815448870 or 01453 767896

Fresh oyster mushrooms are both delicious and healthy. They are high in protein and B vitamins, low in fats and salt, and contain cholesterol-lowering compounds. Growing Oyster mushrooms on spent coffee grounds is a tried and tested method that has been pioneered and developed by organisations across Europe and America.  Until now, there have been no producers of Oyster mushrooms in Gloucestershire.

As you will see if you visit Merrywalks, the mushrooms are not yet ready for sale.  However Stroudco is looking forward to supplying Oyster and Shiitake mushrooms from Fungusloci in the near future – watch this space!  In the meantime you can buy regular white, brown and portabella mushrooms from Stroudco which should keep us going until the first Oysters are ready to sample.

To browse the full range of local produce available on Stroudco Food Hub or to download a catalogue go to www.stroudco.org.uk

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Job opportunity – Manager of @StroudcoFoodhub – £10 per hour – please pass it on

After 5 years’ brilliant work as the Stroudco Manager, Lynsey will be taking a full-time job that means that she will not be able to carry on managing our Food Hub.  We will be very sorry to see her go and wish her all the very best with her new role at The Chine School.

We are arranging a collection for Lynsey.  To contribute please contact info@stroudco.org.uk or phone Nick on 01453 840037

We are recruiting a Manager to replace Lynsey.  We need someone to start learning the ropes as soon as possible (which involves regular Saturday morning work) and as soon as they are trained up we will be paying £10 per hour on a self-employed basis.  For more details please see attached job description and person spec.

If you are interested in applying please download this Stroudco manager’s job description – April 2015 then send a CV and covering email outlining your suitability to manager@stroudco.org.uk or phone Lynsey on 0845 330 6340.  Closing date 20th April.  Interviews 22nd and 24th April.  Start date 25th April.

Please pass this on to anyone who might be interested


Stroudco management team

stroudco and tea towel

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Sourdough, Yeast and Gluten-Free Breads Freshly-made with Local Flour by @ArtisanBakerUK and Home Delivered by @StroudcoFoodhub

Sourcing organic flour from Shipton Mill in Frampton, Gloucestershire, Ori Hellerstein sells his amazing breads through Storudco.

artisan baker sign    Ori hand making bread 2 (3)   White tin loaf

Having managed a local restaurant in Jerusalem in his early 20s, Ori went on to graduate from the prestigious French cookery school, Le Cordon Bleu. He then joined a fine dining restaurant in London where he specialised as a pastry chef creating artisan breads, cakes and desserts for a number of high-profile clientele.  He was UK Pastry Chef in November 2012.  He says “even when I baked at fine dining restaurants in London we used to use Shipton Mill flour. It’s my personal favourite”. 

His recipes recipes use only organic flour, minimal amounts of salt and sugar and strictly no preservatives or additives. If he adds anything to his bread e.g. olives and nuts, he sources them from places he knows are of high quality.

To browse Ori’s current selection of breads go to the Stroudco shopping page

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Kid meat – even better than lamb and helps address a welfare issue

kid loinCotswold Kidmeat not only bringing a delicious, healthful new meat to Stroud but also offering a solution to a growing animal welfare issue.

Stroudco is selling increasing amounts of goat’s milk and cheese reflecting a UK-wide trend.   Consequently over recent years the numbers of nannies being milked has increased dramatically.  But there is a dark side to the dairy goat industry. Sadly, nearly all the dairy farms in the UK view billy kids as a waste by-product and they are killed at birth and their carcasses burned.

Goat meat is the most widely popular meat in the world and by eating kid meat we are giving a purpose to the lives of these billies.

Awarded 2 gold stars in the 2014 Great Taste Awards Cotswold Kidmeat is fully traceable and has been reared to the highest welfare standards with the kids kept in a free range natural environment with plenty to climb on and play with and try to keep them from getting bored.  The processing of the meat takes place in a very well-equipped kitchen on site, maintaining complete control of provenance.

It is generally agreed that kidmeat is as tasty as spring lamb (some say even richer and meatier) and is much healthier than all our regular meats, being higher in protein and iron and lower in fat (especially saturated fats) than lamb, beef, pork or chicken and lower in cholesterol than any of these red meats.

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Stroud’s most local organic wine

quoins orion

For over 5 years now, Stroudco has been offering wine from Three Choirs which is our most local vineyard.  However as Stroudco is a co-operative run jointly by its shoppers and producers, when a group of shoppers put in a request for some ORGANIC local wine we were on a mission!  A group of shoppers from Stroudco Food Hub recently went to sample the fare at Quoins vineyard in Bradford-on-Avon.    They were looking for the most local source of organic wine and were very pleased with the results.  Quoins have been growing vines and developing their wines for over 12 years and have won several awards.  Organically certified by the Soil Association these wines contain very low levels of sulphites and are suitable for vegans.  Stroudco shopper Gez Caldwell said ‘I was very pleasantly surprised to find that UK wine could taste as good as anything I have had from Europe or Australia.  It is great that it is so local and I can have it delivered to my door each week by Stroudco’

Alan Chubb has been growing vines and making wine at Quoins vineyard for 15 years.  Alan sells some of his wine through supermarkets, but finds their buying policies and mark-ups very restrictive and prefers to sell through independent outlets.  Stroudco’s price of £9.99 per bottle compares to the Waitrose price of £12.99 for exactly the same bottle see http://www.waitrosecellar.com/all-wines/wine-type/white-wine/quoins-organic-vineyard-orion

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The Future of Food

We would like to invite everyone to ‘The Future of Food’ at the The Lansdown Hall, Stroud GL5 1BB on Sunday 22nd February 7pm-9pm.  This is a joint event with Transition Stroud and will look at how Stroudco contributes to the global need for more sustainable food systems.  It will be an opportunity to hear about the growth of Stroudco, its contribution to the Open Food Network and how we can all help to build a more resilient local food economy through the shopping choices we make.

All welcome.

No entry fee.

For more details phone 01453 840037 or info@stroudco.org.uk

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Notes from Stroudco planning meeting and AGM 29/1/15

42 people participated in the meeting:

  • Producers (including Jonathan Crump selling cheese, Tasty selling cakes and preserves and Goat Maid Soaps),
  • Shoppers
  • Helpers
  • Management group
  • and other people interested in Stroudco.

We had a series of very brief presentations covering:

  1. History of Stroudco and Cardiff University research
  2. Stroudco finances and approval of accounts
  3. What is going well and what are the challenges for Stroudco
  4. How you can help Stroudco
  5. Stroudco and Open Food Network – the new software we are developing to update the Stroudco website
  6. Stroudco supporting GROWN – a new local food retail operation which will support Stroudco
  7. Cotswold Choice – a local food branding programme

There was then a brief question and answer session before we split into small groups to discuss:

  1. What are the priorities for Stroudco in the coming year?
  2. What can you do to help?
  3. What does the management group need to focus on?

These are the notes from those discussions:

What are the priorities for Stroudco in the coming year?

  • Coping with getting bigger
  • More volunteers
  • Danger of turning customers away because too big
  • Classroom is not big enough for sorting – need new system of operation for packing
  • New premises
  • Hubs in other areas – eg Gloucester, Nailsworth
  • Stabilise Stroudco – maybe by reducing number of shoppers or stopping orders once weekly limit is reached
  • Pay proper money – run as a business
  • Decide how big we want to be – what is the optimum size?
  • Decide if we want to increase the size of the storage and order processing space – model – scalability
  • From a producer’s point of view what is the optimum economy of scale – minimum value to make it viable?
  • Get new software system bedded in
  • Keep momentum – Stroud shop, other hubs

What can we do to help?

  • Put fresh eyes over current process – to help organise things better/more efficient
  • Buy more
  • Get more involved
  • Finding a new place to store the good
  • More volunteers
  • Suppliers could help with testing of the new software – engage with updating info
  • More volunteers to help with order fulfilment
  • Help with marketing, telling stories, social networking
  • More publicity e.g. Stroud Life

What does the management group need to focus on?

  • Work smarter not harder – efficiency
  • Satellite groups – deliveries to 3 or 4 outlying areas – perhaps leading to other hubs
  • Cashes Green community centre
  • Nailsworth warehouse
  • Go back to Parliament School and use Crockett’s new shop in Stroud
  • Get help from Stroud Council for premises
  • Big freezer and big fridge
  • Storage

We then confirmed the election of directors – Sarah Holder will stand down and Crockett Cresswell will stand.

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