Specialty mushroom grower Adam Bray is about to launch his urban farm LOT WST, which will double his growing capacity and serve as an event space, beginning with two chef-led launch parties in early February.

After almost a year of teasing the next phase of speciality mushroom business Westside Mushies, founder Adam Bray is about to launch his new urban farm, LOT WST.

On Friday, 3 February, Westside Mushies will welcome the public into its newly christened warehouse for its first official event (Adam has hosted a couple of gatherings at the site prior to it being fitted out).

Chef Ash Ryan of My Grandma Ben (aka Chef Snax) is on board to produce a range of vegan street food dishes for the occasion, such as KFC-style oyster and lions man mushroom nuggets.

The celebration will continue on the following Friday, 10 February, with Duane Tilka of Carton Deli popping up with, among other things, some mushroom ice cream with tamari caramel.

These events will be followed by a dinner series at the venue, scheduled for March.

Establishing a visitor-focussed urban mushroom farm has been a long-held goal for Adam, who has supplied mushrooms to some of Adelaide’s best restaurants since late 2020.

Adam signed the lease for the space at the beginning of 2022, with plans to create an expanded mushroom farm to help him meet the growing demand for his speciality mushrooms.

Previously operating out of his dad’s shed, Adam says his business grew to the point of maxing out the original space, growing 120 kilos of mushrooms a week. Some of the restaurants on his client list increased the size of their orders threefold over this time.

This new site will allow Adam to double Westside Mushies’ output, which means he’ll be able to service the many customers he’s kept on a waitlist.

“I’ve had all these extra customers wanting to come on board, because it got busy so quick,” he says.

“A couple of people could only wait so long, so some people are probably sick of hearing about it, but there’s a lot of people… [who are] still waiting.”

The expanded growing space is only one element of Westside Mushies’ LOT WST project. Adam will also establish a farm gate at the front of the venue, where the public will be able to pick up mushrooms and growing kits for use at home. On Saturdays, he’ll serve coffee from the space, too.

Later in the year, Adam will run education courses out of LOT WST, at a couple of different levels.

“[There’ll] be a super cheap course… where they just learn the basics and they get a kit, and all they’ve got to do is spray it,” he says. “But then there’ll be a more in-depth one where I actually make it with them. And it’ll be… all jar-based, no single-use plastic.

“I can see that potentially maybe twice a month, or once a month with three sessions. That’s what I’m most excited about with it, is the classes and courses.”

While Adam is excited to be on the cusp of welcoming people into his new space, it’s been a long road to this point.

Building a business as a solo operator, relying heavily on the support of family, is not a glamorous process. The intense enthusiasm that got Adam into mushroom growing in the first place, and led to the founding of his business, can only carry him so far.

“Before these [previous Shedgustation] events, it was hard to get out of bed every day,” he says.

“It made me all excited, straight after them… I’ve always been so excited by that idea, so to see people in there, and then raving on about it, posting and sharing, I’m like, ‘I’m not crazy. Keep going’.

“It just pushed me through bits where I was starting to think, ‘What am I doing?’”

Family has also been a massive support for Adam throughout the difficulties of building a business, particularly his dad and his partner.

His son has also given him perspective, spurring him on to pursue success in his business.

“I want him to be proud of me as he grows up, sort of thing. That makes you stop being selfish and sooky sometimes,” he says.

With LOT WST’s first official event approaching, Adam is at peak levels of verve.

“I’ve been so full of beans,” he says. “Ticking off the to-do list, no leaving stuff for tomorrow. Because I know it’s now or never.”

For more information on LOT WST’s open day, see here.

Words & image: Johnny von Einem