Below Farm: Growing Mushrooms in Abu Dhabi
Below Farm is growing mushrooms in Abu Dhabi. They have found a way to grow mushrooms in the middle of the desert, a place where mushrooms don’t usually sprout from.
The Founding of Below Farm
Below Farm was founded in 2021 by Bronte Weir, Liliana Slowinska, and Wojciech Slowinski. Bronte is the managing director, while Liliana is a business development specialist, and Wojciech is an electrical engineer.
Growing Specialty Mushrooms
Below Farm specializes in growing “specialty mushrooms” such as oyster, king oyster, shiitake, and lion’s mane. They are the first in the region to grow and sell high-end mushrooms, which are better than imported mushrooms due to their freshness and delicate nature.
Meeting Abu Dhabi’s Challenges
Abu Dhabi’s scorching daytime temperatures and strong winds posed a challenge for indoor mushroom-growing technology. However, Below Farm has overcome these challenges by developing specially adapted, pressurized chambers covered in insulation to keep the interiors cool.
Below Farm upcycles waste materials to make blocks for the mushrooms to grow on.
Sustainability is a key goal for Below Farm. They grow their mushrooms on specially made blocks using upcycled waste from date palms, a significant crop in Abu Dhabi. This allows them to contribute to reducing waste and repurposing resources.
Business Expansion and Market Growth
Below Farm produces around one ton of mushrooms per month and is looking to expand to meet rising demand. The global mushroom market has been growing steadily, reaching $62.4 billion last year, driven by the increasing popularity of plant-based and vegan diets.
The Future of Below Farm
Below Farm aims to raise funds for a larger-scale farm to double their production. They also plan to explore greener practices, such as using spent growing blocks as biofuel to power the farm. Ultimately, they want to establish the Middle East as a center of excellence for mushroom cultivation.