Mushroom Buddies has been a ten-year effort by a group of parents with children with special needs. We saw a dire need for sustainable open employment for persons with intellectual disabilities. After two pilots of growing and harvesting mushrooms, we were convinced the tasks required are doable by them. The opportunity to scale up came during the pandemic in mid-2020, when a sponsor Blue Planet Asia offered to fund our first climate-controlled mushroom growing container. Amid strict Covid restrictions and challenges, we finally launched Mushroom Buddies in Oct 2021 with two trainees and a few volunteers. Six months later (May 2022) our work team comprises of 6 employees with special needs (including 2 trainees) and 20 volunteers from all walks of life! All rostered to come in every day to help supervise, support and guide our employees in the harvesting, trimming, weighing, packing, labelling and sales operations.
Sustainable open employment of persons with special needs is a key challenge in Singapore as typical work environments are generally not suited for special needs. At Mushroom Buddies, we strive to have a safe and ‘patient’ work environment with flexible working hours and manageable work tasks. Most volunteers are non-parents and have never had any opportunities to converse nor interact with persons with special needs until now at Mushroom Buddies. These days, we volunteers see beyond our employees’ disabilities and enjoy working alongside with them as ‘fellow colleagues’. Every day we look forward to our rostered time at the farm as much as our employees with special needs. There is a deep sense of community and camaraderie working as a team in a truly inclusive environment. Most importantly, it has been a great boost to the self-esteem of our employees and trainees. There are positive impacts in their mental and physical health. As our employees often share, besides coming to do work, it gives them a lot of joy interacting with us volunteers. It's changing their ‘world’ as they have gained new friends and enjoy their experiences!
We volunteers are very passionate about the mission and want to see Mushroom Buddies succeed! Besides providing employment, we are also contributing to Singapore’s 30/30 target of local food sustainability. We are changing lives with our mushrooms!
To find out more about Mushroom Buddies: