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Experiencing My City
Dominique Lynch-Gauthier et Lysiane Roy-Maheu

LOCAL, ECO-FRIENDLY MUSHROOMS

Urban agriculture
Published on
August 25, 2017
Urban agriculture has the wind in its sails. While most urban farmers are amateurs,others make the leap into urban farming as a career, like the duo of entrepreneurs behindthe Blanc de gris mushroom farm.

Dominique Lynch-Gauthier has a long-standing love affair with mushrooms. “I love to eat them, pick them in the woods, grow them at home… it’s a passion!” she said. In 2013, she participated in the École d’été en agriculture urbaine and discovered a mushroom farm in Paris.

“I wanted to start my own business. When I learned about this company that produced oyster mushrooms in the city using coffee grounds, that’s when it all started – I found my project!” she recalled.

Soon thereafter, she recruited her friend Lysiane Roy-Maheu for the project. It was Roy-Maheu who came up with the company’s elegant and evocative name. After a year of testing, visiting mushroom farms, studies and plans, Blanc de gris began its operations in Hochelaga in the spring of 2015.

200 kg of mushrooms

With her experience in restaurants and marketing, Roy-Maheu takes care of sales, while Lynch-Gauthier looks after production.

“Because our production method is non-traditional, we have to conduct a lot of research and development,” said Lynch-Gauthier.

Her blue oyster mushrooms are grown in buckets containing a blend of coffee grounds, spent brewer’s grains and wood chips from pruned trees. “The substrate has to be pasteurized, and we have to make sure that the temperature inside the buckets doesn’t get too high. Otherwise, the mycelium dies and bacteria take over,” she explained.

Today, in 1,200 buckets divided among six greenhouses, Blanc de gris produces 200 kg of oyster mushrooms each week, which will then be distributed in some 30 restaurants across Montréal.

Locavorism

In addition to being eco-friendly, Blanc de gris is part of another trend – eating locally. And rightfully so:

“Mushrooms are very fragile. They don’t hold up well with long days in transportation and storage,” explained Lynch-Gauthier.

Montréal restaurant owners who purchase Blanc de gris mushrooms get exceptionally fresh and crunchy oyster mushrooms with a rich, hazelnut flavour.

Now that their production has reached its cruising altitude, the duo of entrepreneurs is thinking about developing packaged products, like dried mushrooms. “We’d also like to re-use what’s left of our substrate after production,” added the co-founder, who thinks the material composted by the mushrooms could be used as fertilizer.

“I am proud of what we have accomplished so far and have done in accordance with our original values: circular economy, urban agriculture and locavorism,” she concludes.

 

Together for a sustainable metropolis 

Montréal’s 2016-2020 sustainable development plan is the result of concerted action with a number of local and municipal partners. The plan recognizes and reinforces the city’s commitment to reducing GHG emissions, greening, access to sustainable neighbourhoods and the transition to a green, circular and responsible economy.