File photo taken on April 15, 2019 shows Wu Penghui, owner of the Gooda Creek mushroom farm, posing with mushrooms at the farm, about 30 minutes' drive from Australia's Canberra. Gooda Creek is one of the largest mushroom farms in Australia, which boasts the most mushroom types among all farms in the country. Apart from the parliament house, supermarkets like Costco and Coles are also its customers. (Xinhua/Bai Xu)
By Bai Xu, Yue Dongxing
CANBERRA, May 12 (Xinhua) -- When boxes of mushrooms were sent into the parliament house in Australia's capital, small as they are, the mushrooms epitomized the development of China for decades.
"We took the order from the parliament house last year," said 55-year-old Wu Penghui, owner of the Gooda Creek mushroom farm.
The farm was about 30 minutes' drive from Canberra, and its advertisement was eye-catching at the side of the highway.
Gooda Creek is one of the largest mushroom farms in Australia, which boasts the most mushroom types among all farms in the country. Apart from the parliament house, supermarkets like Costco and Coles are also its customers.
"I will not be able to achieve this without the experience and skills I get in China," Wu said.
Wu's father was among China's first traders after the reform and opening up in the early 1980s. From Gutian, a small town in east China's Fujian Province which was famed for growing mushrooms, he bought mushrooms from local farmers to sell in the adjacent Guangdong Province.
Wu himself was a manager in a department store at the time.
In the 1990s when many people chose to do business on their own, Wu started his own store as well. "It was like a supermarket nowadays, where customers could choose whatever they want by themselves, rather than asking staff like in the department stores."
Wu arrived in Australia in 2006, where he later chose Canberra because the city was small, with less people and more business opportunities. After he became owner of four stores, the man expected one more change.
"I would like to do something else," he said. "A friend told me that since our hometown was known as the 'capital of mushrooms', perhaps I could grow mushroom in Australia."
He bought a plot of land with 1.3 million Australian dollars (about 0.9 million U.S. dollars) in 2014, and sent his son back to China to learn how to grow mushrooms.
It was easier said than done. Climate and environment of Canberra and Fujian province are utterly different, while various mushrooms grow in different conditions.
"In those days mushroom was the only thing I thought about," said Wu. "Sometimes when I woke up at night, I would go to see my mushroom."
When the first mushroom sprouted, he was as excited as seeing his own child.
Now Gooda Creek is home to 16 types of mushrooms. Last year the farm sold 200 tonnes of mushrooms; after a supermarket in Sydney signed order contract, Wu expected the sales this year could reach 300 tonnes.
Along with the expansion of his business, a bold idea was formed. "I want to set up a China-Australian mushroom association to promote our mushroom growing technique in Australia," he said.
He noted that there was a club in Canberra where mushroom growers could learn from each other. "Due to the lack of growing experience, however, some people knew more of the theories than actual practice. I hope that with the association as a platform we could invite Chinese experts to teach us."