Crowdfunding campaign launches to grow mushrooms using whisky heat recovery

Green Grow Business Development Manager Dr Isabella Guerrini de Claire and Director Iain Findlay
Green Grow Business Development Manager Dr Isabella Guerrini de Claire and Director Iain Findlay

A company which grows mushrooms using used coffee grounds and whisky grains, and which can be powered by heat recovered from whisky-making, is launching a crowdfunding campaign on Burns Night in a bid to help it scale up production.

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Green Grow hopes to raise £60,000 in order to take its Scottish Gourmet MushroomMeal Box product across the UK direct to consumers. Each recyclable box will be delivered by post and contains six vegan-friendly meal portions, made from the gourmet mushrooms grown using by-products from whisky distilleries and other local food, drink and agricultural industries.

The mushroom-producing ‘Green Grow’ project aims to demonstrate the ‘circular economy’ in action. A circular economy keeps things useful for as long as possible by finding ways to process and re-use products. The company takes its name from Robert Burns’ 1783 song, ‘Green Grow the Rashes’ and has been using by-products from the whisky and coffee industry to create the perfect growing conditions for gourmet mushrooms.

By pledging a £20 donation to the crowdfunding page donors receive one of the Scottish Gourmet Mushroom Meal Boxes as a reward ahead of the March launch. Thereafter the boxes will be available via the online shop. Each box contains delicious mushroom-based risottos, polentas and lentil curries ready in less than half an hour simply by simmering in hot water.

Director Iain Findlay said, “This Burns Night, and during Veganuary and beyond, we hope that people will help us to show the food industry that there are ways in which waste can be eliminated or re-imagined as a valuable resource, as well as growing food locally to create tasty and easy to cook nutritious vegan meals like our Scottish Gourmet Mushroom Meal Box.

“We take by-products from local industries, such as the used malt from whisky distilleries or spent coffee grinds, to create the perfect compost for mushrooms. We then grow the mushrooms in used shipping containers, heated by biomass boilers or using hot water recovered from the whisky-making process. After harvesting the mushrooms, we recycle the compost again for forestry projects. Everything is re-used, so it’s a working circular economy solution and we can’t wait to take the product to market in the coming weeks.”

As well as producing mushrooms for consumption, Green Grow is carrying out research into a new type of bio-packaging which can be made from the compost once the mushrooms are harvested. The root system of the mushrooms – or mycelium – can be used to produce a recyclable packaging material which is an alternative to polystyrene. Working with Belgian partners, the company intends to make its own packaging from the mushroom mycelium and then use that packaging technology for a range of products, including the whisky which helped to produce the growing medium and the heat for the mushrooms to grow. Green Grow aims to make its low-cost techniques available to people all over the country so that they can work with local industries to reuse their by-products and grow mushrooms. The project has been part-funded by Highlands and Islands Enterprise, the Scottish Government’s ‘Unlocking Ambition Challenge’ and Scottish Edge.

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