On the heels of the successful Works of HeART project & the full funding of the Huay Nok water program, Tiger Trail’s FairTrek dives into sustainable agriculture!

Sprouting mushroom bags. Image courtesy of FAO.

Mushrooms can be a vital ingredient in the diversification and sustainable development of rural communities. Tiger Trail’s community based tourism arm, Fairtrek, recognizes the value of these edible fungi and created Mushrooms for the Masses. The Mushrooms for the Masses plan not only adds a new revenue stream, but also a sustainable, non-seasonal source of nutrition.

Example of a sustainable mushroom cave Fairtrek will build.
Example of a simple mushroom cave.

What’s the Plan? How is it Sustainable?

Our plan is simple; mushrooms love cold, dark spaces. For only $500, we supply a village with a simple bamboo cave and 1000 mushroom bags. These bags provide mushrooms for 4 months. Each bag has the potential to provide 933g, that makes nearly 1000kg of mushrooms for the community! As the cottage industry develops, Fairtrek student groups and volunteers will construct larger caves from reclaimed water bottles to create the perfect, moist climate for maximum fungi cultivation.

In order to create less plastic usage, the Tiger Trail mushroom masters are researching sustainable methods to raise the crop. For instance, future plans include a bamboo housing or unusable denim (i.e. jeans that are beyond repair) made into bags. After the 4 month growing cycle, the mushroom compost can be used as organic mulch for other vegetables. For example, aubergines & tomatoes love the mushroom compost.

Why Oyster Mushrooms?

Oyster Mushrooms have a high market value in Laos. They have a stable price of around $4 per kilo, but the nutritional value far outweighs the financial as the diet in traditional village farming communities is often short of essential dietary needs. Oyster mushrooms provide plenty of protein, vitamin D, B vitamins, and folic acid. Additionally, they provide an abundance of minerals such as iron, zinc, potassium, phosphorus, and selenium. Mushrooms also stimulate the immune system and can defend against respiratory illnesses.

Because of these benefits, the program dictates 25% of space in the mushroom cave is
designated to the school. Mushrooms harvested from that area can be used in school meals or sold to provide school supplies. As a result, the younger members of the village receive more adequate nutrition.

How You Can Support FairTrek’s Mushrooms for the Masses

You are able to support Mushrooms for the Masses in three ways. Firstly, a donation page is set up here. Additionally, you can share this blog post to spread awareness of FairTrek and the many projects we run. Or come visit the mushroom villages and participate in the upkeep!

The villages for this program offer simple, friendly homestays where you work side by side with the community towards the shared goal. The homestay experience gives a unique cultural and rural perspective on Laos. Other activities can be included such as trekking, kayaking, storytelling, and traditional dance classes & workshops. We can also include a farming and fishing trip.

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