The Spanish region of Extremadura has the right ecosystems for the reproduction of mushrooms and this has helped it become one of the country's largest exporters of wild mushrooms.
In 1979, an entrepreneur from Moraleja, a municipality located in the Sierra de Gata region, in the northwest of the province of Caceres, decided to work with this product and started an agro-food company that would become essential for its marketing in Spain. "I started by buying mushrooms from neighbors in the area and selling them in a very small market. Now my suppliers come from many parts of Spain and Portugal, and I export to countries like Italy or Israel. It is not easy, because at the end of the day, we are speaking about a premium quality product," says Julián Martín, 68, owner of Productos Silvestres Julián Martín.
In good campaigns, Martín can sell around 800,000 kilos of mushrooms, which he buys not only in the region, but also from the rest of Spain and Portugal. It markets them all year round under the brand name El Campanillo. It sells the mushrooms fresh, but also canned, frozen and dehydrated.
The Gurumelo, the flagship mushroom in the spring
The municipality of Villanueva del Fresno is known for a tourist festival that puts Extremadura's flagship mushroom of the spring, the Gurumelo, in the spotlight.
The picking of this mushroom is carried out in the region from February to May, more or less, but also in the north of the neighboring province of Huelva. In Villanueva del Fresno, within communal lands, there is a regulated mycological preserve.
"The goal is to regulate the right to exploit the communal property in the best possible way," says the mayor of Villanueva del Fresno, Ramón Díaz Farias. Those registered as citizens of this municipality do not have to pay a mushroom picking fee on those lands. Yes, those who are not registered there must pay.
"The mushroom sector gives financial support to many families. Those who pick them can make up to 10,000 Euro in the three months of the campaign," said the mayor.