connections to collaborative spaces
Ocean Mushrooms - "We love mushrooms and want to spread the same love to our markets."
Sound and Soil is extremely grateful to be collaborating with Ocean Mushrooms, who have generously allowed our Mycelium to grow on a reed mat, in this tunnel.
Added to this, has been their willingness to embrace artistic practices previously unknown to them, including playing 'Ancient Sonic Vibrations for Africans within systems of Modernity' as created by Indigenous Frequency Cast, and African song by Kagiso Kekana.
The music was played to the Mycelium via a portable speaker over an extended time period each day.
The Mycelial growth was captured as a series of still images by MyMalaika_Photography.
These Mycelial images will be projected onto the soil in Steinkopf and will be included in the live experimental performance with the collaborating Nama dancers from Steinkopf.
Ocean Mushrooms is a farm situated in Botriver that produces mushrooms both to the Overberg and larger Cape Town areas.
They strive to deliver top quality mushrooms at reliable intervals.
My story My Name is Elias Sithole I was born and raised in Mmakaunyana a small village in the north of Pretoria under north west province on 17 August 1985. Growing up my village was just as normal as at home where we had a black and white tv and at night most of the children around our house would come to watch tv and the house would be so full of children big and small came to watch. When the battery is flat my father would charge it on his Nissan skyline, maroon in colour. When he go back to work at Welkom in the mine then we took it to Molekwa we pay 3 Rand to charge it...but most of the time my mother would refuse to give the 3 Rand because the children were making her house dirty. I started my primary school at Khubamelo primary school in the year 1993 where my teacher Miss Ramatlo taught me from (sub A) grade 1 until standard 4 (grade 6). I loved to play soccer at school or at home that was what I do the whole day at home when im not at school. My mother loved to drink beer everyday lion larger and she would send me all the time to go buy the beer, which I hated because my sister she was never sent to go buy only me.. Even if someone wanted to send my sister she would say "No don't send that one she is slow she will take time to bring the beer, send this one his quick so for me it was not fair." I did my middle school at Phalatsi Lenyai middle school. From grade 7 to grade 9. I skipped grade 8 as I got promoted because I got 100% pass rate in grade7. Then I did my high school at Mmakaunyana high school from 2001 to 2003 when I matriculated. Then I went to work at my father's shop for a year before I got a job at style décor where I worked for almost 2 years. By then my sister was working at a mushroom farm called Thika 1 and her boyfriend was working at Melodie mushroom.. One day I went to visit my sister at a place called Mario's that was next to RMC the farm where mushroom compost was made. When I arrive there the smell of the compost was unique to me, I never smelled something like that. I asked what is that smell they said its compost for the mushrooms..since I never thought that to grow mushroom you must make compost first for it to grow...and the sound of the bunker fan going on and off it intrigued me to be more interested in the whole process.. My sister's boyfriend saw that I was so interested in the mushrooms growing process from the compost, he said that the next month they were putting up growing rooms for mushroom and that I could work there as they needed people. He said I must come he told the owner. I went there on 1st of January 2005 and I met the owner, Wannie Rossouw and she then said "Jackie told me about you so you can start today go to Elias office he will tell you what to do". Elias was an old madala and he was the grower there with lots of experience for growing mushroom..so they said I will take the mushrooms from the rooms and weigh them and take it to the packshade. First day I took the mushrooms while the ladies were picking and I saw the mushrooms left on the bags were small in size...then the next morning when I went in that same room I couldn't believe my eyes ...the room was full of big mushroom and the ladies were preparing to pick again. I was like how was that possible that overnight it can be so big.. I went to madala Elias to ask what happened why the mushrooms so big now ...he said "I controlled it the room has an air conditioner for room temperature and dumpers which I control the fresh air or carbon dioxide in the room" that sounded very interesting to me I just told myself that I also want to be a grower like madala so after a week they changed me to do delivery. I only did it for few week then I told madala thata I want to be a grower like him .so he said I must be a waterier first and also work in the growing rooms to put compost and case the bags then put water. I immediate started .then I learned that mushroom is not just like any plant it’s a special unique thing .at first I had my line the middle one .when I see the mycelium starting to grow and colonize the whole bag with mycelium..and it turns from being dark to white ..the after 14 days we case putting peat on top so the mycelium can grow into the peat.after two day the mycelium started to grow into the peat then madala said I must water the peat to be wet but the water must not touch the mycelium. Because wet mycelium don't grow .it form a pin of mushroom .so I did as I was told then after a day the mycelium has grown everywhere in the peat with thick strands .then he said it now good to air put oxygen and took out carbon dioxide in the room..after 4 day I could see small mushrooms that mycelium turned into solid white pin growing in a formation of a mushroom..i was like this is amazing..then on day 13 after case we water the mushrooms for the first time ..he said I must not put too much as I will drown the mushrooms cause they still small so they need to breathe..i did like that and the room was so beautiful with big nice mushroom .so I learned everyday how to grow mushroom. Then my boss acquired a small farm called Thika mushroom. It was doing only 500 bags per week .so I went there to work as a grower plus I was managing the whole farm alone ..on this farm I learned a lot as I was not under pressure to produce certain tones per week.when I got there I found that only women were working there and that for me was something that I never experienced it before .to my surprise the women were working much better than men .so in the morning few will go pick then others will go pack when they finished packing they will go do other work like casing or empty there room or fill the room .i master the art of growing mushroom simple by learning the language of the mushroom. When I enter the room in the morning to read the temperature and check the growing process I would listen to the mushroom what it tells me .like if it need water or if it need fresh air .it took me a while to understand the language of mushrooms but I eventually learned it..and it worked for me because from the same compost my mushroom were growing nice with lots of weights..unlike at the big farm where I was getting the compost from ..my boss at that time was so amazed that how I was doing it while there they couldn't do it..unfortunately when I started there the previous owner was owing eskom 1million rand ...they eskom came and cut the power ..by that time I had 8 full rooms so I continued without power. For heat I was using fire wood to warm the room and for fresh air I was opening the door ..so I was growing quality mushroom without electricity...those women were saying it is possible to grow mushroom without electricity...then all my rooms got finished then I took all the ladies with me back to melodie mushroom...I worked for about 6 month then got an offer to work at reece mushroom .so I accepted then move there so it was a new project from starting to build the structure and everything but within 6month we started to produce the mushroom and starts selling it ...on this farm the first few month was good then after 11 month things started to go downward the production was low ..our target was 5ton a week of mushrooms. But then we were at 3 tons that’s were I started to learn that mycelium has memory u can communicate with it ..it will respond ..before I discovered it I tried everything I know to grow it but it was not happening with all my experiences nothing..how I discovered it was that I was watching this documentary were by there play music on the cup of water then take the water and froze it and look through microscopic it has patterns and this patterns is same with same music ..so each music has its own patterns on the water..so I used the same concept on the mycelium ..every morning in the rooms I would communicate with mycelium what I need from it ...and that was the changing factor. The production was back to 5ton again without any major changes...so the mycelium can store information and it can do what you tell it to do...that has remained with me ever since .so after 5 years on this farm I wanted to start my own business then I left the farm to start my transport business..it went well for 12month then the corona started so I had to put it on hold ..then got offer to work at minlo mushroom in Limpopo which I worked for 18month then I got transferred to cape town ocean mushroom..on this farm that’s were I met Sonya rademeyer on the project of mycelium and sound..to me it was not something new as I knew before how the sound stimulate the growth of the mycelium..i took it on myself to learn more about the Africans traditional sound on mycelium..and I found out that the rooms were the music was playing the production was very huge like room 3 first break it was 4ton with the music ..and the other room without the music the first break was 2.3ton so the different was big.also room 11 before we put the music in the room the mycelium was not in good health as it was struggling a lot to grow but after 2 weeks of playing music it recovered the mycelium and the room mushroom has grown very well.it proves that were there is music even if the mycelium is sick it got healed by playing music to it .also the mycelium when growing in the room where music is played it releases anti stress reliever because if u sit in the room you feel stress free and your mind relax and the brain functionality improved .whenever I felt down or angry I would go to a room where the music is plying for the mycelium and I would sit there in the dark for 15min then I will feel much better and energetic..my mind would be so clear ..even new ideas will just flow in my mind.