This week, the AMGA launched the 2021 'Mushrooms in Schools' program, with help from South Australian mushroom farm SA Mushrooms, providing a virtual mushroom farm tour for students at Burnside Primary School.
The launch and virtual tour coincided with National Science Week, with schools around Australia taking part in “Food by Design” themed science activities. Ahead of Science Week, Burnside Primary School science teacher Abby Macpherson had signed up to take part in the Australian Mushroom Growers’ Association’s (AMGA) ‘Mushrooms in Schools’ program; a free, ten-week educational program to teach primary school students about the third food kingdom - FUNGI.
The plan for the launch was to invite the students on an excursion to a local mushroom farm, however with the pandemic continuing to unfold, the AMGA brought the farm to the children - virtually.
AMGA Communications Manager, Leah Bramich explains, the virtual tour was as interactive as possible. “Along with the lesson plans, each classroom has received a number of mushroom growing kits, so the students can literally get their hands dirty and experience the fun of growing fungi together. Seeing the mushrooms grow in person really helps the students understand the mushroom life-cycle, which explains why mushrooms are the ultimate recyclers. Our aim is to teach children that mushrooms are very different to an ordinary vegetable and why they are a ‘superfood’ both for people and the planet.”
Farmer and owner of SA Mushrooms, Nick Femia, said he was more than happy to be involved. “We had 4 classrooms attend, so that’s about 120 students all tuning in live, eager to ask questions about mushrooms. We took them on a tour of our compost yard and our growing rooms, and I was able to explain what compost is made of and how mushrooms fruit from mycelium – a spiderweb like organism under the ground. We have some budding young mushroom growers in the group for sure, and the more we can do to teach kids about mushrooms and the importance of eating healthy foods the better.”
Head of Science at Burnside Primary, Abby Macpherson says the students are very excited to be growing their own mushrooms in class “The hands-on experience really helps the students understand the unique growing process, as they must tend to their mushrooms every morning and afternoon. They are genuinely excited to see them double in size every day.”
The lessons extend beyond mushroom growing, as Mrs Macpherson further explains “We have just finished a student survey and we have created a pie graph to report on how many mushrooms the students eat at home, some of the students have used fungi as their subject for a photography competition, and as we are getting ready for our first harvest, we are currently looking at mushroom recipes ahead of a cooking lesson. The mushroom kits have certainly helped spiked their interest in mushrooms.” Mrs Macpherson added.
To learn more about the AMGA "Mushrooms in Schools" program, or to discover how you can apply for free mushroom kits for your classroom, visit our Mushrooms in Schools section.
Watch the SA Mushrooms virtual farm tour with Burnside Primary
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