Building community and ecological resilience through food structures is becoming increasingly important as a response to disruptions from climate change, political instability, and natural disasters. The Mushroom Crypt is an Edinburgh-based collaboration between Rhyze Mushrooms, a radical mushroom farm and non-profit, and the Friends of Dalry Cemetery (FoDC). This collaboration began as a project for my Environmental Design Lab as part of my master's studies. Over the course of the summer, the project materialized from a theoretical design plan to a real-life community effort to turn an unused Victorian-era crypt into a shared edible mushroom growing space.

My main roles in the project included introducing the initial project idea to the FoDC and Rhyze, designing a community workshop plan, co-facilitating community workshops, and assisting in creating the exhibit floor plan and crafting the mushroom growing vessels inside the crypt.
Project Overview
Food Systems
Community Workshops
Sustainable Agriculture

community workshop design

Advertisement posters were hung in the areas surrounding the cemetery and posted on Rhyze's social media. In the weeks leading up to the first workshop, I designed a packet to allow participants to learn about different cultivation techniques and draw their own visions for how to use cemetery spaces. The packet contains ecosystem diagrams, lists of locally cultivated plants and fungi, and background information on cemetery history. After that, the packet contains photographs from all of the non-grave structures in the cemetery, encouraging participants to write and draw directly on the packet to demonstrate what it is they'd like to see there.


cultivation workshops

After the first community design session at Rhyze, the Friends of Dalry held two separate cultivation workshops at the cemetery. In each workshop, I helped coordinate volunteers and provided general assistance as needed. The first workshop was to create the central hanging mushroom growing cage, which the community chose to make in the shape of a coffin. In the second workshop, we built a dozen cultivation containers. All of these would be placed inside the crypt a few weeks before the launch event to give the mushrooms time to fruit.

Over the course of the next few weeks, I worked with the leaders of Rhyze and the FoDC to plan the launch event for the crypt.

moving forward

The next steps following the successful launch of the crypt is creating a maintenance plan. The crypt was transformed into a food growing space through a huge amount of effort from organizers and community members alike; in order to keep the space growing, a steady stream of volunteer work will be needed. Rhyze and the Friends of Dalry are planning to tackle a maintenance plan in the new year 2023.