Our story so far
In summer 2020, we began growing oyster mushrooms in our basement in East Manchester. We quickly grew to supply community veg box schemes, forming connections with the amazing community of growers at Platt Fields Market Garden. It wasn’t before long that our need to expand beyond our basement became apparent, and we were fortunate enough to be invited to join the space at Platt Fields, where we are currently outfitting two shipping containers for mushroom production, along with a weatherproof wooden structure which will act as a preparation, teaching and learning space.
In our corner of the site we have some extra space that we would love to turn into a community laboratory for anyone to use for all things mycological! As a co-operative, we want Myco to collaborate, connect, and learn from our community, and this lab is a key part of that.
We know that fungi have a vital role to play in the fight for climate justice; they have been known to break down persistent pollutants in the soil, filter contaminants from water and stabilise slopes. Fungi have a wide range of culinary and medicinal uses, and people have even been using mycelium as a building material, as a vegan leather, and as a biodegradable alternative to styrofoam.
Myco is a collective built around a shared love for the fungi, with a commitment to food and environmental justice. We believe that mushrooms have a vital role to play in building a food system that is sustainable and resilient, as well as supporting a rich ecology and a more environmentally just world.
Despite being integral to the history of life on earth, mycology is a relatively new field and doesn’t have as much funding from institutional sources as you would expect. Most of the above applications for fungi have been pioneered by community mycologists, people with a passion for fungi but no access to University labs or corporate R&D teams. We hope that our farm, workshop space, and lab can provide a hub for mycologists to further explore our relationships with the fungal world and it’s practical applications, as well as providing inspiration and learning opportunities for people who haven’t yet discovered their love of fungi! We want our space to be accessible to all, regardless of institutional resources or scientific background.
We believe strongly that fungal biodiversity is important for everyone - therefore strains should be held in common and that the benefits should be shared with all who need them.
Our vision for the lab
With this fundraiser we are looking to raise money to build the community laboratory and kit it out with appropriate equipment.
Myco is a workers co-operative, meaning that we are owned and managed democratically by our workers. Our members are all LGBT+ and many of us are disabled: building an inclusive working and educational environment is fundamental to how we operate.
The lab will be nonprofit and operate on a sliding-cost membership basis to ensure it is as accessible as possible, with all money going back into the lab to pay for maintenance costs and consumables.
We are fundraising for £6,000. This will cover:
The physical structure of the lab itself - £2500;
Sterilisation equipment (laminar flow hoods, pressure cooker or autoclave) - £1800 ;
Cool storage for samples (fridge and freezer) - £600;
Furniture (desks, storage shelving, chairs) - £1000
Consumables (isopropyl alcohol, gloves, masks etc.) - £100
We are hoping that the main work of constructing will start in Spring 2022, after we have finished construction on our farm and workshop space.
Rewards for contributions
Myco badge and sticker pack - £5
200g punnet of oyster mushrooms - £10 (25 available)
Tote bag - £20 (200 available)
Limited edition mushroom lino print - £25 (20 available)
Voucher for 2 people to attend a 3 hour Myco workshop - £40 (5 available)
Voucher for 2 people to attend a full day Myco workshop - £75 (5 available)
Guided tour of the farm and grow walk-through - £100 (2 available)
To claim, please email [email redacted] (dot) com with a screenshot of your donation receipt and what reward(s) you’d like. We won’t be arranging these until the end of 2021 so we can focus on getting the farm up and running so please be patient with us! Rewards will be collected from our site at Platt Fields Market Garden in Fallowfield, Manchester or posted for an additional cost - please mention this in your email.
What happens if…
We don’t raise the target amount
We will still endeavour to make the community lab a reality! We will explore alternative funding methods, for example through grant applications. We may need to kit out the lab at a slower pace based on how well the sales from the farm do: even if this were the case, we would ensure that people who wanted to become members could use whatever equipment and facilities we were able to afford. In other words, when it comes to the lab, whatever we’re able to build will be made accessible.
We manage to raise more than the target
If this happens and we find that we have more money than we need, we will firstly make sure that funders are made aware. We’ll consult with funders and people who express an interest in / join the lab about what they would like to prioritise - whether it’s bringing the costs of access down, or whether it's investing in another piece of kit.
Thank-you for sharing and helping make this project possible!