Profile of the Month – Benalla Mushrooms

Andrew

Who…are you?

Andrew Cowan / Benalla Mushrooms.

What…do you do?

I grow certified organic mushrooms, ‘It’s not a job, it’s a life’.

Where…are you located?

Benalla, Victoria. It’s about a two hour drive from Melbourne.

When…did you become certified?

Just over 20 years ago.

Why…did you become certified?

We wanted to give people a choice of being able to buy organic mushrooms as there was no one else growing organic mushrooms.

What is your organic story?

My father and I started growing mushrooms over 25 years ago. We are the first certified organic commercial mushroom farm in Australia, and the longest lasting. Other certified organic mushroom farms have come and gone and now there are just two, so I have to work on any problems that arise myself and figure out things as we go along. We get phone calls from people all over Australia who are happy to be able to get certified organic mushrooms. One lady advised she is allergic to everything, but she can thankfully source our products which is usually a struggle for her. We also always have plenty of mums phoning us asking the difference between conventional and organic. I am always happy to explain the difference!

What do you love most about your business?

Growing mushrooms organically is a constant challenge and keeps you thinking and on your toes. I mostly love the different people I am able to talk to through this industry, people who want to know about organics. Some people I have spoken to hadn’t even heard of Benalla until we started selling the mushrooms! I love promoting certified organic, and the reason why, and am always happy to hear from interested parties who would like more information.

And….any good stories to share?

Jill and I have our life which is mushrooms. After 25 years of growing with only two weeks off, I definitely enjoy my job and love what I do.  I wouldn’t know what else I’d rather be doing, so will continue.

Andrew is very proud of his 17 staff who he currently employs at Benalla.

Mushrooms

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