Urban Valley: A Unique Mushroom Farm Thriving in the Heart of Brisbane

A unique agricultural venture is thriving in the bustling urban landscape of Fortitude Valley with Urban Valley, a mushroom farm founded by Joel Schiller and Rachel Hughes.

This innovative farm has carved out a niche in the gourmet mushroom market, a segment that saw a significant demand, especially noted during the challenging times of the pandemic.

Inception and Growth: Filling a Gap in the Market

The idea for Urban Valley germinated when the founders identified a gap in the supply of gourmet mushrooms.

Mr Schiller’s interest in mushrooms began during his tenure at Danielle Gjestland’s Wasabi restaurant in Noosa. The concept further developed when Ms Hughes, working at Suncoast Fresh, noticed a persistent shortage of gourmet mushrooms. 

This shortage became particularly pronounced during the pandemic, underscoring the need for a local, reliable source.

This thought laid the foundation for what would become Urban Valley. The farm began its journey in an old taxi depot and later moved to its current location in a warehouse in Fortitude Valley. 

The Farming Process: Innovation and Sustainability

Urban Valley epitomises sustainable urban agriculture. Their mushrooms are grown indoors in a controlled environment, starting from the incubation stage in bags filled with a substrate of wood and soy hull. The farm’s fruiting room is the centrepiece of this operation, where mushrooms grow in conditions meticulously controlled for temperature and humidity.

The process accelerates in the fruiting room, the mushrooms – otherworldly monster blues, fluffy coral tooths, button-like chestnuts – roughly doubling in size every 24 hours. 

This efficient and sustainable approach to farming aligns well with the urban setting of Fortitude Valley.

Community Engagement and Culinary Contributions

Urban Valley’s mushrooms have found their way into the kitchens of renowned Brisbane restaurants such as Stanley, SK Steak & Oyster, Bacchus, Restaurant Dan Arnold, and Goma Restaurant. Their presence in these prestigious establishments underscores the farm’s commitment to quality and sustainability.

Beyond production, Urban Valley engages with the community through tours and events. Mr Schiller and Ms Hughes have hosted intimate long-table dinners in collaboration with partner restaurants, showcasing urban farming’s potential. These events not only highlight the farm’s produce but also demonstrate the versatility of urban spaces for agricultural purposes.

Looking Ahead: The Future of Urban Valley

As Urban Valley continues to grow, its impact on the local food scene and the concept of urban farming becomes increasingly significant. The farm represents a shift towards more sustainable, localised food production methods, fitting perfectly into the diverse and dynamic backdrop of Fortitude Valley.

Published 8-Dec-2023