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Myco’s Statement On Peat

Peat is a natural product that forms when plants die, and accumulate in unique environments called peat bogs. These boggy wetland ecosystems, typically dominated by Sphagnum mosses, host a range of unique animals and plants that may only be found in a few areas of the world. If you’ve ever come on one of our plant or mushroom walks around Delamere Forest in Cheshire (see our events page for the date of the next one), we might have pointed out the peat bogs found there. 

Peat, when crushed under layers of rock for a few millions of years, ultimately becomes the fossil fuel we know as coal. Peat bogs currently cover around 3% of the planet’s surface, but are responsible for storing around 15-30% of the planet's carbon dioxide. Peat accumulates very slowly, around 0.5 to 0.6 mm per year, so it can take a very long time to recover once dug up. Due to its slow growth, it is not considered a renewable resource.

So why are we at Myco so concerned about peat? Amongst other historical reasons to extract peat, it has been a valuable resource to commercial mushroom growers—especially those growing button mushrooms. Peat holds plenty of water required to maximise mushrooms yields, and its low pH means that it resists contamination and enables repeated harvesting. 

Some countries like the UK have been planning to reduce peat use, but their deadlines for action keep getting pushed back and their pledges only target specific sectors (e.g. banning garden compost containing peat while allowing extraction to continue). With the climate crisis in full swing, we at Myco don’t think this is acceptable. Though choosing to avoid peat puts us at a serious commercial disadvantage, we feel the preservation of this ancient, biodiverse, carbon capturing ecosystem is more important than short term financial gain. 

As a result we pledge to never use peat in any of our growing processes, and call for immediate action to stop the extraction of it.

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