[Underground Mushroom Gardens], Singapore 2006

[Underground Mushroom Gardens] looks at how systems can be connected with other systems. [Underground Mushroom Gardens] is part of an ongoing exchange between Suraya Saidon, director of PCF, Dr. Atomic Leow from the Biotechnology Department, Temasek Polytechnic, HDB, Learning Site and others. The exchange started in March 2006. One of the exchange’s projects is the mini-farm that was initiated in November, 2005 by Suraya Saidon. Its site is on public land outside the kindergarten and is also part of PCF’s education. [Underground Mushroom Gardens] is an underground construction that has been planned to exist under the site of the mini-farm. [Underground Mushroom Gardens] is part of the hands-on education at PCF the fall 2006 in Singapore.

Pearl oysters: temperature: 15-21 C; relative humidity: 85-90%; durations: 4-7 days; CO2: 1.000ppm; air exchange: 4-8 per/hr; light: 1,000-1,500 lux/440-495 nm.

[Underground constructions]
Space can be constructed underneath dwellings or other already existing infrastructure. Using an underground space provides good conditions for the production of mushrooms, because the temperature levels are stable and in some cases the absence of light is an advantage for some species of mushrooms. Before one starts to produce mushrooms it is good to know the condition of the soil, the mapping of existing underground, architectural structures and infrastructure such as tunnels, water and sewer system, pipes for gas and electricity, light, temperature and humidity. Unused and found spaces, like mines, air-conditioned places, and tunnels, can be used as well.

[Underground Mushroom Gardens, Model 1:1], 4, 6, and 8-sided spheres. The sides of the spheres are attached with velcro. Light: 1,000-1,500 lux/440-495 nm.

[Short about mushrooms], by Dr. Atomic Leow
Fungi are heterotrophs that do not fix their own carbon through photosynthesis but use the carbon fixed by other organisms. Indeed, fungi are now considered by mycologists (scientists who study fungi) to be more closely related to animals than to plants, and they are classified with the animals in the monophyletic group (a group of organisms descended from a common ancestor). However, unlike animals, fungi have cell walls and digest food externally and absorb the nutrient molecules into the cells. The organisms of the fungal lineage include mushrooms, rusts, smuts, puffballs, truffles, morels, molds, yeasts, as well as many less well-known organisms (Alexopoulos et al, 1996). About seventy-thousand species of fungi have been described; however, some estimates of total numbers suggest that 1.5 million species may exist.

Most people have seen the dense filamentous fungal colonies growing on nutrient agar plates or spoiled food, but in nature the filaments can be much longer and the colonies less dense. When one of the filaments contacts a food supply, the entire colony mobilizes and reallocates resources to exploit the new food.
When all the food becomes depleted, this triggers off the formation of spores or sporulation. Fungi reproduce by releasing spores from a fruiting body. The fruit, called a mushroom, releases spores into the air, and the wind carries the spores off to start the next generation.

Even though the fungal filaments and spores are microscopic, the fungal colony can be very large with individuals of some species approaching the mass of the largest plants or animals.

Most fungi are saprophytes which feed on dead or decaying material and as such they play a vital role in the recycling of nutrients on planet earth. Some fungi are parasitic and feed on living organisms and cause diseases to the organisms such as rusts; smuts; leaf, root, and stem rots; and ringworm. Symbiotic fungi on the other hand live in close association with the plant roots and supply essential nutrients to the plants without which the plants may fail to grow.

Fungi have a long history of use by humans. Many types of mushrooms and other fungi are eaten, these include oyster, shiitake, button, and enoki mushrooms. However, many species of mushrooms are poisonous and are responsible for numerous cases of sickness and death every year. As it is difficult to identify a “safe” mushroom without the appropriate knowledge and training, thus it is advisable to assume that a mushroom in the wild is poisonous and leave it alone [1].

Pearl oyster bags with and without humidity tents.

[Uses of fungi]
Fungi are used for food, flavoring, soil improvement, medicine, pest control, biological weapons, in biodegradation, and in bioconversion of soluble and insoluble organic substances in domestic wastewater sludge.

[Underground Mushroom Gardens, Model 1:1]. Light: 500-2,000 lux/370-420 nm.

[Underground Mushroom Gardens, Model 1:1]
It was not possible to construct the [Underground Mushroom Gardens] beneath the mini farm for several reasons.
PCF’s experiment room were made accessible for [Underground Mushroom Gardens] instead. The size of the experiment room is 5.87m x 9.17m x 2.46
[Underground Mushroom Gardens] included a model made of cardboard. It illustrates how to construct a self-supporting underground space. The existing airconditioning system was used to maintain the necessary climate for the shiitake (lentinula edodes) and oyster (pleurotus ostreatus) mushrooms. The light-tubes were changed. The model of the [Underground Mushroom Gardens] was maintained by the pupils at PCF as part of their education during the fall of 200.

Overview of items used in workshops: learning posters, water tank, coal, baskets, and sprays for misting the mushrooms, and other things.

Aerial view of the mini-farm next to the playground from one of the HDB residences.

The structure was taken apart and given to a resident of Indus Road 79; who passed on this material to the local private recycle cardboard collectors.

Download [Learning poster #004A]

Download [Learning Poster #004B]

[Learning Book #002]