Fascinating fungi for food and revolutionised modern medicine

Although among the most widely distributed organisms on the planet, most fungi are inconspicuous because of their microscopic size and subterranean lifestyles. Often we are unaware of their existence beneath our feet until their fruiting bodies, mushrooms, emerge.

The fungus kingdom encompasses an enormous diversity of taxa with varied ecologies. A characteristic that places fungi in a different kingdom from animals, plants and bacteria is the presence of chitin in their cell walls.

Fungi are genetically more closely related to animals than to plants. Fungi do not photosyntesize, they are heterotrophs (organisims that cannot produce their own food), acquiring their food by absorbing dissolved molecules, typically by secreting digestive enzymes into their environment.

Scientific estimates now place fungi as the most abundant organisims on earth, far outnumbering their plant and animal counterparts, but only about 70,000 species of fungi have been described by mycologists.

Fungi perform an essential role in the decomposition of organic matter and have fundamental roles in nutrient cycling and exchange in the environment, many forming symbiotic relationships with plants.

They are also essential to many household and industrial processes. Fungi have long been used as a direct source of human food, in the form of mushrooms and truffles; as a leavening agent for bread; in the production of cheese such as Brie and Camembert; and in the fermentation of various food products, such as wine, beer, and soy sauce.

The discovery of penicillin, an antibiotic derived from fungi, revolutionised modern medicine. Fungi are now use to produce many antibiotics, cyclosporine, and other medicines. However, many species of fungi can be parasitic or toxic.

Want to learn more about these fascinating lifeforms and how you can grown your own mushrooms at home?

Watershed Landcare have invited proprietor of Gourmet Mushrooms of Mudgee and fungi fanatic, Uschi Rowlands, to present a talk about fungi as part of our lecture series at the Mudgee Small Farm Field Days.

Uschi’s talk, Fascinating Fungi, will be held at the Straw Bale Building (L8) at 10am on Saturday 13 July and will provide an overview of the Fungi Kingdom, some of their fascinating traits, and a look at how mushrooms are grown.

This event is supported by Watershed Landcare and is a part of the NSW Government’s Local Landcare Coordinators Initiative, supported through the partnership of Local Land Services and Landcare NSW.

Practical Skills for Soil Health

The days are short and there’s frost on the ground which means that the Mudgee Small Farm Field Days must be just around the corner. Watershed Landcare have been busy organising our lecture series for this year’s event and the program will feature a great line up of speakers on a variety of topics.

Are you a keen gardener? Watershed Landcare have invited passionate gardiner, Sarah Curry, to share her expertise and provide yo with some practical skills to boost the health of your soil.

Sarah Curry is a 5th generation farmer, agronomist and gardener with a strong belief that healthy gardens and produce come from healthy productive soils. Together with Husband, Josh, and three young children, Ted, Cate and Jimmy, they run a large dryland farm in South West NSW, producing cereal, oilseed and pulse crops. Sarah has a degree in Agricultural science majoring in Soil Science (B App Sc) and is an agronomist with 18 years experience.

Sarah also manages Majors Mulch, a business named after their property “Majors Point”. Majors Mulch grows and supplies, Mulching Pellets an innovative solution to the common problems of mulching. Mulching Pellets are easy to apply, weed and dust free and act as soil conditioners, improving soil organic nutrient levels. There are two types of Mulching Pellets, Premium Lucerne and Pea Straw. Both are legumes naturally high in nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium and a range of trace elements. As well as conserving soil moisture, both types of mulch improve soil water holding capacity and naturally improve soil organic nutrient levels, organically feeding plants.

Majors Mulch also produces Complete Compost, a rich blend of Lucerne hay, sheep manure and wheat straw slow roasted and aged to perfection. Complete compost can be added to pots, veggie gardens and garden beds to replenish organic nutrient levels.

Sarah will be presenting a talk to help gardeners understand the key elements of healthy soils and how to overcome common problems to boost your gardens health and production.

‘Healthy Soils = Healthy Plants’ will be held at the Straw Bale Building (L8) at 11:30am on Friday 12 and Saturday 13 July.

Want to attract more birds and pollinators to your garden?

We have also invited Tamara Bowman to present a talk about local plants and gardening tips that will attract birds and insects to your backyard. Come along and learn about the ‘Birds and the bees’ at 3pm on Saturday, 13 July.

These events are supported by Watershed Landcare and are a part of the NSW Government’s Local Landcare Coordinators Initiative, supported through the partnership of Local Land Services and Landcare NSW.

Landcarers Set to Head West

Are you aware of an individual or group that should be recognised for their contribution to caring for our country? We encourage you to please nominate them for one of the award categories in this year’s NSW Landcare Awards.

The 2019 NSW Landcare & Local Land Services Conference will be held from the 22-24th October in Broken Hill, NSW.

The Conference is being hosted by Landcare NSW, Western Landcare NSW and Western Local Land Services, and is being coordinated in partnership with local Landcare and community groups.

This conference is the premier event to showcase sustainability, Landcare and volunteering across NSW and includes the annual Landcare Muster and the NSW State Landcare Awards.

Landcare groups and volunteers can nominate those hard working, passionate people for recognition in the 2019 NSW Landcare Awards. Nominations close on Wednesday, 3 July.

This year there are 10 categories in the state Landcare awards including sustainable farming, indigenous land management, young Landcarers, Coastcare, innovation in agricultural land management and the BCF Give Back to Fish Habitat award.

Champions for the nine primary categories may be eligible for travel support to attend the 2019 NSW Landcare & Local Land Services Conference and Awards Gala Dinner.

This year’s Conference theme is ‘Healthy Landcare | Healthy Landscapes’ and will fdeature presentations from some of the most passionate, innovative and engaging people from around Australia. Delegates will also have the opportunity to kick up dust in the outback, party the night away at the Silverton Hotel and experience many more unique and wonderful events.

Don’t miss this chance to gather with around 300 people from Landcare and community groups, farmers, Aboriginal groups, industry and government representatives from across NSW and Australia.

Registrations are now open and discounted Early Bird bargain tickets are available until 5pm on Sunday, 30 June.

For more information, program details and to register, visit the NSW State Landcare Conference website: https://nswlandcareconference.com.au