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It might not be the first thing that comes to mind when there’s a spare hour to fill in the Wairarapa - in fact it's almost not even the last thing – but once you’ve done it you’ll definitely recommend it!
Next time you do have a spare moment here give Parkvale Mushrooms a ring and head out into the beautiful Wairarapa countryside for a mushroom factory tour!
The Parkvale Mushroom factory sits in Parkvale (bit of a clue in the name there) just outside of Carterton and it’s the only place I’ve ever called that has its own phone line for compost.
Steve is so passionate and he knows exactly what he’s talking about – by the time he finished his introduction I could hardly wait to see the growing rooms (they’ve only 13 of them and they’re only huge). Big sliding doors roll back to reveal gloomy stacks of compost filled crates, each room we went to filled with different sized mushrooms. Interestingly, they’re actually all the same mushroom variety-wise and they’re picked at specific growth stages to give you a button, stuffing cup or flat shape and flavour.
The process from button to flat takes around a week with four flushes per spawned compost (which they make themselves and keep down the road at the compost factory – hence the line for compost!)
Flushes are growing processes e.g. the process of a mushroom – starting off as a spawn, growing into a button, moving into a stuffing cup and then finally into a flat. Fantastic setups – pickers move through the growing rooms thinning the hundreds of small mushrooms – what they take out are sold as buttons – this allows more room for the remaining mushrooms to get bigger. Pickers come through again and thin out further – these bigger mushrooms are stuffing cups (all the nice restaurants get these) leaving plenty of room for the flats to get nice and big.
This process occurs all year round and happens so quickly because each room is kept in a temperature range of 18 – 21 degrees – perfect growing weather. All of this results in the factory producing, on average, a tonne of mushrooms a day!
The Parkvale Mushroom Factory supplies Carterton New World, Fresh Choice, Masterton New World and Pak n Save Masterton directly as well as Turners and Growers, Fresh Direct and market gardeners who then disperse right across the rest of the North Island.
So try something new over the upcoming break, open 9am – 12pm every day tours for small/family groups are fun and free – just give them a ring and let them know your coming. Make sure you bring a bit of loose change too, there’s an opportunity at the end to buy fantastic fresh mushrooms straight out of the packing room.
When you visit, do remember it is a big operation, there’s plenty of great machinery to look at but it is working hard so don’t get too close!
For more information about the Wairarapa and all the things you can do here visit www.wairarapanz.com. Our i-SITEs in Masterton and Martinborough are open everyday and the staff here are always happy to help:
Masterton i-SITE Visitor Information Centre
Cnr Dixon & Bruce Streets
Martinborough i-SITE Visitor Information Centre
18 Kitchener Street