Mushies sprout high rewards

Akers' labour of love


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Take a look inside one of Australia's best mushroom farms, right here on the NSW South Coast.

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For the years Michele Akers worked as a chef in the Southern Highlands she was constantly searching for the perfect mushroom. 

After turning up dead ends time and time again she decided, if you want something done right do it yourself.

So she opened Shoalhaven Gourmet Mushrooms with her husband Gary. 

Now, nine years down the track, the duo’s mushies are classed as some of the best in Australia. 

“I wish I'd had this product when I was working as a chef,” Michele said. “I found it very hard to get products of this quality.

“We gave it a shot, started off small, with a small farm and then we had to expand to this current property because it just went bananas.”

The duo grow white, Swiss brown and portobello mushrooms year-round in eight purpose-built, state-of-the-art growing rooms on their property in Termeil.

“We started with five 20-foot (6m) shipping containers and now we have a purpose-built farm,” Gary said. “Overall we are growing 800 kilograms of mushrooms every week and there is never anything left.”

Gary said growing mushrooms was equal parts science and dedication, a recipe he loved.

“I always wanted to grow the ultimate product,” he said. “A lot of people think all mushrooms are the same, but they are not. There is a definite science to it. 

“A lot of producers go for top yield, but the quality is poor. 

“We have to watch them constantly. Michele or I always have to be here.”

This year the Akers took out all three entered categories at Sydney Royal, with an overall score of 99 per cent, for the third year in a row, and won four gold medals at Royal Hobart Fine Foods last year.

The Akers currently supply restaurants including Tallwood and Bannisters, both in Mollymook, along with a number of eateries and supermarkets in Canberra and produce markets. 

The Akers have made the decision to place Shoalhaven Gourmet Mushrooms on the market, both the farm and the business. 

“We are maxed out, but there is room to grow,” Michele said. 

“The opportunity is there to continuing growing the business, we have people asking for orders we simply can’t fill.”

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