A mushroom-themed education, play and foraging area will sprout in the Ōtākaro Avon River Corridor Regeneration Area in the coming months.

The Mushroom Room will feature at least six different native and exotic species of edible mushrooms for foragers, up to five large art installations by local artists, four engaging nature play pieces, and interactive signage to educate people about the fast-growing fungi.

Te Tira Kāhikuhiku (TTK) has awarded the project a grant of $19,600 from the Red Zones Transitional Use Fund, to help bring the project to life by the end of April 2021.

Project proponent spokesperson Hayley Guglietta says most of the grant will be used to install the nature play and artwork pieces on the corner of Evelyn Cousins Ave and River Rd in Richmond.

The group has already spent the past six months preparing and inoculating the soil so that it can be added to the site.

“Over the COVID-19 lockdown there were lots of people out using the former residential red zone area. We want to encourage people to continue doing that, and connecting both with nature and the area,” she says.

“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.”

TTK chair Chrissie Williams says that the project will educate people on mushrooms, while also providing a new community hub for Richmond residents and visitors.

“This project will be an educational experience, but I’m most excited about the use of large-scale artworks to engage the community” she says.

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.

“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, and 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.

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