A SOUTH Australian primary school has been taken on a virtual tour of a mushroom farm to learn more about the "third food kingdom" - fungi.
As part of National Science Week in August, a class from Burnside Primary School took part in the Australian Mushroom Growers' Association's "Mushrooms in Schools" program, coming under the Food by Design theme
The free, 10-week educational program teaches students about the details of mushroom production.
The program included an excursion to the local mushroom farm, however with the pandemic continuing to unfold, the AMGA teamed up with local Waterloo Corner mushroom farm, SA Mushrooms, to deliver the farm tour to the classrooms virtually.
AMGA communications manager Leah Bramich said the virtual tour was as interactive as possible.
"Along with the lesson plans, each classroom has received a number of mushroom growing kits, so the students can literally get their hands dirty and experience the fun of growing fungi together," Ms Bramich said.
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"Seeing the mushrooms grow in person really helps the students understand how mushrooms grow and why they are the ultimate recyclers.
"Our aim is to teach children that mushrooms are very different to an ordinary vegetable and why they are a 'superfood' both for people and the planet."
Farmer and owner of SA Mushrooms Nick Femia said he was more than happy to be involved.
"We had four classrooms attend, so that's about 120 students all tuning in live, eager to ask questions about mushrooms," Mr Femia said.
"We took them on a tour of our compost yard and our growing rooms, and I was able to explain what compost is made of and how mushrooms fruit from mycelium - a spiderweb like organism under the ground.
"We have some budding young mushroom growers in the group for sure, and the more we can do to teach kids about mushrooms and the importance of eating healthy foods the better."
Head of science at Burnside Primary Abby Macpherson said the students were very excited to be growing their own mushrooms in class.
"The hands-on experience really helps the students understand the unique growing process, as they must tend to their mushrooms every morning and afternoon," she said.
"They are genuinely excited to see them double in size every day."
The lessons extend beyond mushroom growing, according to Mrs Macpherson.
"We have just finished a student survey and we have created a pie graph to report on how many mushrooms the students eat at home, some of the students have used fungi as their subject for a photography competition, and as we are getting ready for our first harvest, we are currently looking at mushroom recipes ahead of a cooking lesson. The mushrooms have certainly spiked their interested," she said.
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