Solve the mystery in mushroom growing

Gerard and Mary Fegan of C&L Mushrooms have been producing superior quality, local mushrooms at their farm since 1986
Gerard and Mary Fegan of C&L Mushrooms have been producing superior quality, local mushrooms at their farm since 1986

C&L Mushrooms of Mayobridge, Newry will this year celebrate its milestone 30th year in business. Gerard and Mary Fegan of C&L Mushrooms have been producing superior quality, local mushrooms at their farm since 1986 and plan to celebrate by opening their gates to the public and participating the Bank of Ireland Open Farm Weekend on 18th June 2016.

They invite visitors to come onto their farm to learn exactly how their ‘Fungi’ are grown with the promise – you won’t be kept in the dark!

C&L mushrooms is one of thirty four members of the Producer Organisation Northway and many of the group’s mushroom and strawberry growers will attend the family fun day to help celebrate the farm’s significant industry achievements as well as to demonstrate the unique, safe and ethical way in which they grow and pick their product. The Open Farm Weekend is an opportunity for you to meet the Northway People from all over Northern Ireland who work together to ensure you have the choice of better quality and better tasting local product on your shop shelves.

Between 10.00am and 4.00pm on the 18th June, come along to participate in the Award Winning Northway Mushroom Trail. During the trail visitors will be guided through the farm, the mushroom tunnels and a series of fun and interactive activity zones, throughout which the mystery of mushroom growing is revealed. All of this will be ahead of an opportunity to taste Northway Grown Mushrooms, specially prepared by former BBC2 Great British Menu Chef, Chris Mc Gowan, who is taking time away from his highly acclaimed, Wine and Brine Restaurant in Moira. On hand until 2pm, ahead of returning to the restaurant to prepare for the evening service at Wine and Brine, Chris will present a special tasting menu that will showcase the very best, fresh and natural, locally produced Northway Grown produce range. There will also be entertainment and competitions and Kevin McAllister from Q100.5FM will broadcast from the farm too with additional goodies, prizes and giveaways from the Q Crew.

Throughout the past 30 years, the husband and wife team behind C&L have invested in perfecting their mushroom growing process on farm and they now produce in excess of 37.5 tonne of local mushrooms per week that are destined for the shelves of Tesco, M&S, Sainsbury and Waitrose, as well as the shop shelves of their loyal, local and independent customers every week. The duo are looking forward to the opportunity to showcase Gerard’s unique mushroom growing knowledge and Mary’s mushroom harvesting techniques together with how their continued investment in production and processing facilities on the farm, with the support of Northway, has enabled them to flourish throughout the years, producing some of Northern Ireland’s finest mushrooms.

Speaking of the event, Mary said: “When Gerard and I first started producing mushrooms here we were just eighteen years old and grew 70 tonnes of mushrooms annually. Thirty years on and we, together with our hardworking and valued team, have the capability to produce half of that amount weekly for our customers!” Gerard went on to say, “We are really looking forward to inviting the public onto the farm, to give them an insight into what is involved in producing top quality, local mushrooms and the Open Farm Weekend is the perfect platform from which to do this.”

Speaking on behalf of Northway, Elaine Shaw added: “Having participated in previous, successful, Bank of Ireland Open Farm Weekends with our members, we know that it is an excellent opportunity for C&L Mushrooms, during their special year to encourage, engage and demonstrate their strengths in the industry to their customers, whilst showing them just what is involved in local mushroom production.

“At Northway we enable our members to work collaboratively, to continually improve efficiencies in production to offer an ethically produced, safe and affordable local produce rage. The Northway Team and Members will be delighted to join Gerard and Mary on the farm on 18th June to help them enjoy the festivities and to engage with the public on the work that we do as a group to ensure only the finest and freshest produce carries the Northway Grown logo, our mark of quality on shop shelves.”

Like many industries, Mushroom production in Northern Ireland has come through some testing times in the past and Northway members have successfully demonstrated that by working together to continually perfect product quality and deliver value, it is possible to thrive. So, if you would like to learn more about local mushroom production, if you would like to learn more about Northway, Northway members and see inside C&L Mushrooms or if you would just like to do something a little different, visit C&L Mushrooms, Mayobridge, Newry on Saturday 18th June from 10am and participate in The Bank of Ireland Open Farm Weekend 2016 and the Award Winning Northway Mushroom Trail.