“In Ecuador, there are plenty of mushroom species, but the educational part is missing. That’s why I’m growing, in large part, by myself and educating others on it with Club de micología Ecuador. There we can educate anyone in the area on local mushrooms and sustainability,” says Thibaut Wagner, founder of Mushroom Ecuador and co-founder of the organization.
Thibaut came to Ecuador for his thesis project and developed an interest in producing mushrooms in the region. Thibaut has been in Cuenca, Ecuador, ever since and has been working to develop new partnerships, look for land and grow the business. As he explains, the most important part of building business opportunities will be to build public awareness around local mushrooms and sustainable farming.
“One of my goals is to find local edible species, research them with the mycology club and find ways to grow them on a large scale, eventually in protected structures,” says Thibaut. “This is why the Instagram page is my work; we need to establish ourselves and teach people how to consume mushrooms.”
Public awareness is the key to profitability
Mushroom Ecuador is currently operating on a small scale and produces oyster mushrooms, which are sold at 3 USD for 150 grams. Thibaut plans to introduce more mushroom types and continue focusing on cultivating consumer awareness, recycling biomaterials, and promoting a healthy lifestyle. All mushrooms are packed inside paper packaging.
For now, Thibaut rather focuses on producing in the Cuenca area where the farm is based. As the market is yet grand enough to satisfy, Mushroom Ecuador wants to expand collaborations with restaurants, private customers, and even bigger parties.
First mycology conference
From August 3rd to 5th, a mycology congress was held in Quito, Ecuador and focused on disseminating research on the sustainability of fungi and their many functions. Following this event, Thibaut notes that more people have an understanding of fungi’s potential as a source of food, medicine, and materials.
As do other fungi enthusiasts, Thibaut hopes that this conference has people thinking about mushrooms more and looking for different ways to incorporate them into their lives, such as by using mushrooms as a meat replacement or even using mushroom paneling in their homes.