A mushroom-themed education, play and foraging area has officially opened in the Ōtākaro Avon River Corridor Regeneration Area.

More than 50 adults and children attended the Fungi Farm’s official opening this afternoon, complete with hearty, wild mushroom soup, and mushroom-themed sweets and savouries

Located on the corner of Evelyn Cousins Ave and River Road in Richmond, the Fungi Farm will feature six different species of edible native and exotic mushrooms for foragers, 33 manmade mushroom carvings and art installations by local artists, engaging nature play pieces, and interactive signage to educate people about the fast-growing fungi.

The project is an initiative of the Riverlution Collective and driven by the Richmond Community Garden.

Project proponent spokesperson Hayley Guglietta says the overwhelming encouragement and support they’d received from the community had been inspiring.

“People have been really interested in this project and it’s great to finally be able to open it to the community,” she says. “There might not be any mushrooms growing yet, but the place will come alive in spring and autumn.”

“We wanted to create an engaging space that not only educates people about living with nature, but is also somewhere that a family can spend a whole day here, next to the Ōtākaro Avon River, enjoying the regeneration area.”

Ms Guglietta says the intention is to hold monthly workshops with the community to explore different methods of growing a range of different mushroom species.

“This is the first part of a wider vision we have. We’ve got exciting plans to transform the area from Swanns Rd to North Avon Rd into an educational, family-friendly art trail and nature play area that weaves among the old, established gardens and fruit trees that we want to continue tending to.”

Residential red zone consultative group, Te Tira Kāhikuhiku (TTK), awarded the project a grant of $19,600 from the Red Zones Transitional Use Fund, to help bring the project to life.

TTK is able to issue grants of up to $20,000 for temporary projects and activities in regeneration areas that have been approved by landowner Land Information New Zealand (LINZ), working in partnership with the Christchurch City Council.

TTK chair Chrissie Williams encouraged people with a vision to use parts of the regeneration areas to submit a proposal to the group for consideration.

“I really encourage people to apply to use the former residential red zone land for community initiatives,” says Ms Williams. “We love ideas that connect local communities, involve volunteers and bring people into the regeneration areas. The Red Zone Transitional Land Use Fund can help bring those ideas to life.”

Interested parties can find out more information on the process and the parameters of the funding and fill out an application form online.