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From local to global: engaging in the world’s food challenges through a mushroom cultivation case study.

Jones, Cynan 2021. From local to global: engaging in the world’s food challenges through a mushroom cultivation case study. MPhil Thesis, Cardiff University.
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The interdisciplinary approach to explore the potential for designing an energy efficient mushroom growing environment that can be linked to living spaces, is invaluable for innovative future indoor agricultural technologies to address food security issues in a way that fits with sustainable food production within Circular and Foundational economies. The author has developed a concept for high-quality, high-volume edible mushroom cultivation (mainly Shiitake and Oyster mushrooms) within a built space that can be established at relatively low cost in urban settings. The concept has been developed by the author from the growing system of The Mushroom Garden, Snowdonia which was originally designed as a diversification and new income generating model for farmers. The conceptualised model works as a functional full-scale prototype in Snowdonia that has been replicated in other situations and this dissertation focuses on three diverse Case Studies that show the flexibility of the concept: firstly the commercial business of The Mushroom Garden, Snowdonia, Wales, secondly the Carbon Zero Battlesfield Hotel in Northumberland, England and thirdly Awen Cymru, a social enterprise in Bridgend, Wales. The dissertation discusses themes which are central to the development of integration in both urban built areas and rural areas and each theme is discussed individually with main points noted below: • Sustainable production of clean, healthy, and nutritional food - Following initial set up costs (in the region of £6,000), the running costs are minimal. Recent research work by the author has discovered ways of making the system more energy efficient. All aspects of the growing process ensure that the food is healthy and nutritious. • Food security - the system allows control over the production of the mushrooms from substrate production to harvesting, all within a relatively small built area and can be applied to situations of extreme weather or conflict as well as long term food production for isolated rural communities or post-industrial urban areas. • The Circular economy - substrate for growing the mushrooms is produced locally e.g. park or roadside wood chip in cities for Shiitake mushrooms and any organic waste for Oyster mushrooms e.g. straw, grass cuttings, used coffee or used hops and barley from breweries. In fact, any organic waste can be used to produce Oyster mushrooms. When the mushrooms have been harvested the growing substrate can be mulched or composted by gardeners and growers. • The Foundational economy - The foundational economy is built from the activities which provide the essential goods and services for everyday life, regardless of the social status of consumers. These include, for example, infrastructures; utilities; food processing; retailing and distribution; and health, education, and welfare. In essence, it is an economic model based on a community’s needs and assets (human and built) rather than the traditional model of wants fuelled by mass consumption. The matter of food security is increasingly becoming the focus of attention by many national and international governments and organisations as well as national and global NGO’s. The challenges that food security presents to many poorer and rural communities have implications further than for the communities themselves. The dissertation reviews the case study of the health and nutritional benefits of Shiitake and Oyster mushrooms and looks at the yields and nutritional values of the mushrooms (including Vit D) under various light regimes (fluorescent and LED) and the costs incurred. The energy inputs into the growing system are analysed and recommendations for increased energy efficiency of the growing system are discussed. The dissertation concludes that the concept and the circular techno-environmental and social system can produce high quality nutritious food with minimal investment in a variety of Post-Anthropocene environments and demonstrates a transition to a bio-digital edible landscape. The system may also yield valuable nutrients and other compounds from the runoff water and spent substrate which can contribute to a circular growing system when incorporated into other communal growing projects. There is also a potential to investigate the co-design of living and food growing areas i.e., edible households using The Mushroom Garden growing system and other techniques e.g., hydroponics, permaculture, and mini herbs gardens.

Item Type: Thesis (MPhil)
Date Type: Completion
Status: Unpublished
Schools: Architecture
Uncontrolled Keywords: Living spaces, sustainable food production, food security
Funders: KESS
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 6 August 2021
Last Modified: 06 Aug 2021 11:09

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