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About the mushrooms and the gardens




First of all, it’s important to know what the differences between fungi and mushrooms are. Fungiare ,,any of a group of spore-producing organisms feeding on organic matter” and ,,mushrooms are the fruiting bodies of certain fungi”. Simply put: all mushrooms are fungi, but not all fungi are mushrooms. Fungi have an incredibly significant role in the Earth’s atmosphere. Without them, life would not exist on Earth.

Fascinating, isn’t it?



 What do mushrooms/fungi have to do with biodiversity?

An estimated number suggests that there are over 1.5 million different species of fungi. That’s six times the amount of plant species we know of. One might not think, but fungi are actually nonstop participants of our lives. Most of them can’t be seen on the surface, they are the so called mycelia that live their lives under the ground. However, many of them grow a body that are both visible and spectacular to us: mushrooms.


 Mycelia work through electrical impulses and as long as proper nutrition is provided, they live. The oldest mycelium fossil was 2.4 billion years old. It was found in lava sediment in South Africa


Would you have thought that the world’s biggest living being is a fungus?

A honey fungus (Armillaria ostoyae) in Oregon, USA has its’ mycelia spread in an almost 10 km2 area. That equals approximately 1200 football fields.



Fungi, thanks to its innumerous amazing qualities, have a highly significant role in the circle of life on Earth as countless other lives are dependent on them.


Why are fungi important?



Fungi are neither plants, nor animals, they are a completely separate kingdom taxonomically. However, thanks to their diverse way of life, they play a role in the life of every single living being. As far as their way of living is concerned, there are symbiotic and saprophític species.

The symbiotic fungi are able to connect to plants via their mycelium. This relationship is beneficial for both the fungi and the plants.



The saprophytic (degrading) fungi are the Earth’s “cleaning crew”. They break the either dead or dying organisms apart, degrade them into smaller materials so that nature can use them once again. With this, they help with running the Earth’s nutrition-cycle.

Children and mushrooms in one room?



In their classrooms children connect, they communicate, keep contact and build their community as one. Hm… Doesn’t it sound just like a big mushroom?


Apart from offering experiential learning about nature and biodiversity, the programme also grants the opportunity for children to build and develop their relations with each other and with their community as a class. Much like the metaphor of a mushroom or fungus.


As part of the programme we put great emphasis on delineating the rules of consuming mushrooms, especially by highlighting the fact that they are fit to eat as well as poisonous kinds. Another topic we teach the children is the utmost importance of the mushroom-experts and the everyday situations one might be in need for an expert’s help.


A significant motto of ours is that we need not be afraid of mushrooms, for that they aren’t afraid of us either.

Once we get to know them, we will be able to handle and treat them with safety and more respect as one of our Earth’s main driving forces.


Mushrooms in schools?


 The Champex Ltd, namely the Gombajó company, one of our highlighted consultants has previously worked with similar ideas and brought indoor mushroom gardens into elementary schools so that children could grow them. In this sense, we are not the pioneers.


To grasp what mushrooms actually are is quite a difficult task. Especially for those, who have only seen them on the shelves of grocery stores and not in their natural habitats. We would like to show that domestic gardening doesn’t have to stop at tomatoes and kitchen-window-basils, but you could also easily grow oyster mushrooms that you can eat. Moreover, you can do all of this in a sustainable way.


Through our several consultations with professionals, we became more than certain that our activity is safe. Having an indoor mushroom garden that can be grown at home is not that new of an idea. One could even buy these in some supermarkets. Each member of our team has grown more of these gardens to test them first hand before bringing them into the classroom.


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About the garden

Growing mushrooms indoors?


Yes, it is possible! Our team is not the first to try growing mushrooms indoors. In the past couple of years several initiatives appeared – in Hungary as well as other countries – who aimed to grow indoor mushroom gardens both safely and sustainably. Provided that some conditions, such as humidity, light and air are given, the location to see mushrooms grow will not only be possible in distant fields and deep forests. On the contrary, it is possible to see them in places we spend most of our time: at home, or in the case of children in school classrooms.

Starting off

The main reason we decided to design and build our own garden is that the gardens you can purchase in Hungary are only focusing on functionality, using the smallest components possible. This way aesthetics are pushed to the background, besides, a lot of plastic is used.

Our concept

The Mushroom Classroom (?) is an indoor mushroom garden that’s environmental footprint is lowered to a minimum and it allows you to grow mushrooms in more than one pot at the same time. As a result, it is easier to experiment and on the other hand you can produce different breeds simultaneously.

Design process

Throughout planning we had to re-think the design of the garden several times, both from the aspects of form and functionality. These decisions were made following the consultations with experts and professionals. In the meantime, we planted mushrooms in all kinds of different variations of circumstances so that we could get to the closest of an optimal set of conditions.

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Details of the solution


The first certain point was choosing half litre plastic pots, thus prolonging the in-use lifetime of empty yoghurt and sour cream buckets through recycling. Avoiding the use of plastic was not an option unfortunately, as the pots of the mushrooms have to be as sterile and safe as possible. Materials with pores – such as wood for example – can’t be so cleaned that they could be used. Before planting, the buckets are sterilised with fit to eat sanitisers.

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In an average class of 20 students one bucket would not be sufficient, so we provide one pot for every second or third child.

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How the buckets are placed and the visual impression they have were inspired by old Japanese lamps and lampions. For the mushrooms to be able to grow in either direction through the holes, we put them in a fair amount of distance from the main frame.

Some accessories that help the pots to be mounted on the stand were printed with a 3D printer. These compartments’ along with the buckets’ cross-section will give the impression of a mushroom’s silhouette.

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All-together we created a safe and easy to assemble garden which puts something new exciting and wonderful in the classroom.

Who did we consult with while trying to bring the project to life?

As we were building our project, we met more questions than what we could answer. In order to cope with these we sought out the help of professionals. Once again, we would like to express our gratitude to those who helped with sharing their knowledge and experience.


With whom we consulted:


The head of Champex Ltd., in other words the head of Gombajó, Dávid Vigh, who introduced the indoor mushroom gardens’ world to us. Moreover, their enterprise provided us, as well as the classrooms with all the gardens – with the exception of some other test pieces.


Enikő Kiss, conservationist engineer, who broadened our previously very limited knowledge on mushrooms and fungi.


Dániel Börcsök architect, who answered our questions and shared his information from his previous experiences on building indoor mushroom gardens.

What difficulties did we meet?

The project does not only serve children as a field of new experiences and knowledge, but it also serves us. Consequently, we had to untangle and reorganise our thoughts plenty of times so that everything would turn out as planned.

Image by Jesse Bauer

A very important question to us was the following: How could we create a hygienic atmosphere that is suitable for the mushrooms, that is sustainable and that is safe for children to be around?


Our team’s members experimented with the gardens and with how much mushroom can be grown under given conditions, what factors affect growth and how much nurturing they need.


However, the most vital question was whether the mushrooms will grow for sure?


The answer we found was no. It is not for granted that they will grow, since anything could come up at any given time that might prevent the growth. However this is partly why nature is absolutely exciting, as we can’t programme or influence every bit of nature. This question pointed out to us that our aim is not to teach children how to be mushroom growing experts – however, safe mushroom consumption is a significant aspect we talk about. Our aim is to present and hand over a more thorough understanding of biodiversity and nature as well as their importance. To do this, we chose straight and open communication: with an attentive attitude and through experiencing, children will have truly exciting moments as memories, for example growing a mushroom garden.

The team has been experimenting and researching to shape everything as children-friendly as possible. We believe that for this we found remarkable solutions.

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