Denmark WA: Medicinal mushroom mecca

If you’ve ever spent any time in Denmark WA, you’ll know it’s a place that just makes people feel good. Clean air, towering karri forests, ocean views and plenty of rain gives residents and visitors a sense of well-being. So when the Upson family first set eyes on their farm, they were struck by the pure potential of the place.

An irresistible location

The Scotsdale Valley is known for its picturesque countryside, sweeping views, native plants and animals, as well as its many local food producers. And the Upsons were keen to get in on the action. They bought the farm in 1995 and set to work setting up Touchwood Mushrooms.

Having previously owned Western Australia’s biggest mushroom farm, Graham Upson knew just what he needed to spawn and grow the best mushies in Australia.

Setting up shop

Growing mushrooms is an exact science. There is no room for error when it comes to humidity, light, and contamination. That’s why Graham knew he needed to build a Class-1 laboratory for his new project. This means that the air coming into the lab is filtered, so it doesn’t upset the sterile conditions inside. Not only that, he installed laminar flow hoods as

a second line of defence against contaminants.

Growing and spawning rooms were next on the list. Exact climate and humidity control would allow Graham to create optimal growing conditions for his crops. This was not a project for an amateur: Graham had been a mushroom grower for decades already, including five years as a Director of the Australian Mushroom Growers Association. He was the perfect man for the job.

Sweating the small stuff

Being a mycologist is a way of life. Years of specific study and specialisation helped Graham as he got Touchwood Mushrooms humming along.

After installing the infrastructure for his farm, he set to work growing mushrooms. Inspired by the fungi that grew all around him in the Scotsdale Valley, Graham mustered all of his patience and tenacity to produce his first flush in 1997.

He was off.

Setting the standard

Graham knew that sanitisation and procedure were the keys to producing the best organic, spray-free mushrooms. From the beginning, he has done all lab work in the morning, straight from home. He wears sterile protective clothing to be sure that no spores survive outside the lab. That’s because Graham wants all mushroom spores to stay in the lab, where they belong.

He also credits his eye for detail and meticulous record keeping for helping him clone only the healthiest spores for future mushroom crops.

Bringing it all together

It took this impressive combination of hard work, experience, persistence and (we’ll just say it) stubbornness to turn the newly purchased farm into the state of the art mushroom growing facility it is today. Graham and his family are very proud of what they’ve built at the top of the hill in Scotsdale and their product is a testament to their commitment to the industry.

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