In Nantes, a 19th-century chapel has been transformed into an urban mushroom farm

Mushrooms grown outside heart of Nantes and, even more, in a chapel? This is the crazy project of the Urban Mushroom, an agricultural company co-founded by Romain Redais and Camille May. For almost a year now, these two urban farming enthusiasts have established their mushroom farm in the old Martray chapel, located in the Talensac district. Three tons of shiitakes with an organic label have already been produced by the company, which multiplies projects.

Selected as part of the “places to reinvention” call for projects launched by Nantes in 2018, this urban mushroom farm is a little bit special. And rightly so, it is installed in an old religious building of the 19th century, the chapel of Martray, as reported 20 minutes† This was chosen first for its thermal properties: “The chapel acts as a climate buffer, with relatively low temperature fluctuations”, explains Romain Redais, a graduate in industrial chemistry and co-founder of the company. Since then, ventilation problems have arisen and the team has increased its vigilance. “You still have to be careful, especially with heat stroke, and come every other day”continues Romain Redais.

Because the chapel houses a precious treasure. Shiitake mushrooms grow there on hundreds of blocks of clear substrate, installed on rolling boards. Three tons of these mushrooms of Asian origin have been produced for a year, indicates 20 minutes“It’s a fast, quiet and space-saving culture. We couldn’t have made potatoes in the city! †says Romain Redais.

Already 8.5 tons of organic mushrooms sold

The small company from Nantes specializes in urban cultivation of labeled organic mushrooms and has a second production location in the former MIN. She grows shiitake mushrooms, brown mushrooms and oyster mushrooms above ground on a substrate of straw, sawdust and grain bran. In one season, the Urban Mushroom has already sold 8.5 tons of its organic mushrooms. These are sold through AMAP to restaurants in Nantes and also for direct sale during a small market organized every Friday afternoon in the chapel. Deliveries are made by bicycle “for a limited ecological footprint”, we read on the company’s website.

Those who present themselves as “the only strict mushroom growers in Nantes and even in Loire-Atlantique” to continue their development. They hope to double their mushroom harvest this year and plan to eventually diversify into endive production.

In addition, these urban farmers plan to grow their mushrooms on brewer’s grains, barley residues that are recovered after the brewing process. Objective: to derive incineration waste that consists of 70% water.

An example of sustainable and ecological food production, right in the city centre.

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