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CoFounder Bronte Weir shares Below Farm story at Gulfood 2024

Our co-founder, Bronte Weir shares her reflections from Gulfood 2024.

Every year Gulfood - The World’s Largest, Most Trusted F&B Sourcing Event marks a special moment for me... Back in February 2022, Gulfood was where we launched Below Farm 🥰🍄

Women presents on conference stage
Bronte presenting at Gulfood 2024

We were just coming out the back of the pandemics (masks on! 😷); the farm was still under construction, no mushrooms yet in hand, I was 6 months pregnant (yes, not ideal timing to be launching a business! 😅), still double hatting in my corporate job, and we received a call 3 days before the start of the event (thanks to our lovely friends at The Waste Lab for putting us forward 🙏) offering an amazing opportunity for a newcomer to have a booth right next to Top Table, where so many incredible chefs, who we could only dream would one day use our mushrooms at their restaurants.

A crazy weekend ensued, figuring out just how we were going to pull it off: building a display mushroom grow cabinet from scratch complete with lights, humidity and shelving; driving around town trying to find the mushrooms we were going to be growing at the farm once it was up and running (a crazy thought considering the very reason we were launching this business is because they weren’t available in the market! 😂); figuring out how to get a date palm tree delivered to Dubai World Trade Centre to have over our booth to symbolise that these mushrooms were grown IN the UAE (still boggles my mind that we thought that was a good spend of cash! 😵‍💫). I have a vivid memory of a late night in Liliana Slowinska & Wojciech Slowinski's garage with gypsum, mud, shiitake mushrooms & a glue gun trying to create some semblance of how mushrooms grow. 🤯

But that’s what entrepreneurship is all about, right? Say yes when opportunity knocks, & figure out a way to make it happen!

Fast forward 2 years…

Bronte revisits Top Table chefs that are now sourcing Below Farm mushrooms

We are now supplying those fabulous Top Table restaurants (& more!) with 6 different types of specialty mushrooms, grown right here in the UAE, on materials that are available locally.

Feels surreal (& slightly emotional) to be invited back as a speaker, to present Below Farm as a case study on circular agriculture and share some insights on the wonders of mushrooms, & how we grow them in the desert. How far we have come!

And what warms my heart, is that I was welcomed into the Speaker's Lounge with a big hug from Lara Hussein from the Waste Lab, waiting to speak on the panel before me: beautiful serendipity. Building a business is an adventure - blood, sweat and tears goes into it. You met amazing people along the way, and you grow together.

Thank you so much to Swati Taneja for inviting us to share our story at Gulfood this year, and to Katie Jensen for hosting me and my fellow panelists: Parul Soni, Sven Verwiel, Ann Meaney, Valeria Krynetskaya & Ali Sedaghat Doost.

Looking forward to reconnecting next year to see where we are all at this time next year. Onwards and upwards!

Check out Gulfood's video below with her thoughts after her panel.


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