Ingenuity and quick thinking saved Samford Valley Mushrooms when COVID-19 first hit and it’s produced a tasty new product and a whole new market.
Madi Leicester and Mitchell Bignell had ramped up to full production and had only been selling mushrooms for about a year, when Australia went into pandemic lockdown.
They had spent two years researching and building up their farm, so facing a collapse in orders so soon after going to market was a hefty blow.
Rather than give up, they looked at the excess produce they had and found a way to not only use it but extend its shelf-life.
Madi and Mitchell started marinating and dehydrating mushrooms to create mushroom jerky – a nutritious and tasty snack that has a 6-12 month shelf-life.
The venture started with small batches to see how the jerky sold, but word of mouth, social media and the support of locals soon pushed demand to unexpected heights.
And a revamped website enabling online ordering helped this side of the business as well as the existing fresh and medicinal products.
“We were in a pretty scary position and didn’t know how things were going to work out. It just went through the roof,” Madi says.
She says a return to shopping locally and supporting local producers is a big part of their success story.
“We’ve had immense support, especially from the Samford community,” Madi says.
“It was almost like the whole community banded together to shop local and it hasn’t dropped off.”
Samford Valley Mushrooms cut production for two months, particularly during the period cafes and restaurants were closed but many have since reopened and the orders are flooding back in.
As a result, Madi and Mitchell returned to full production in early June and now have back orders.
“We are definitely one of the fortunate ones. I have friends that have lost businesses and lost jobs. We’re very thankful for the support that’s kept us going,” she says.
“It’s reiterated the value of community. We wouldn’t be here without them. We love what we do and the community we’re connected with.
“COVID has been a blessing in disguise for us it’s been hard but we’ve been able to focus on the positives rather than the negatives.”