Mushroom business celebrates its first birthday

Marita Smith, 26, founder of Milton Mushrooms, says it’s important to follow what “gets your heart racing” because when you do “things have a way of working out”.

For Marita, growing mushrooms gets her blood pumping. At one year old this month, her Ulladulla-based business is thriving.

“It was scary at the start following what I believed in, but it’s been an exciting year,” she says.

Today, Marita grows her mushrooms using organic principles and her initial one-kilo per week output has become 5-8 kilos per week.

She supplies several farmers’ markets and wholesales to various restaurants, in addition to selling cultures and grow kits online.

In order to start her business, Marita trained at TAFE Illawarra Ulladulla in Horticulture after studying a science degree at the Australian National University (ANU).

Milton Mushrooms combines her university-attained science knowledge with her practical agricultural skills, and business know-how, acquired from TAFE Illlawarra Ulladulla.

“I majored in organic chemistry, cell and molecular biology at Uni,” she says.

She loved her studies, did an Honours year, worked on a research project in the Netherlands, and then travelled around Europe, which opened her eyes to achievements in sustainable horticulture.

“I realised I wanted to go into horticulture and set up a business in niche products.”

To get the skills she needed for the business she wished to start, Marita enrolled in Certificate II Horticulture at TAFE Illawarra Ulladulla.

Marita attended TAFE for a year, one day per week.

“You could easily slot your training into your regular routine.

“I really liked the TAFE experience, I met the most amazing cross-section of people.”

“There is great practical, hands-on knowledge at TAFE – stuff you don’t get taught at Uni.

“You can translate your skills into something tangible, which is really incredible,” she says.