There is a fleshy, beige, quiet, giant mass that will be growing in a room in a large storage unit.
The thing is going to feed on thousands of litres of sweat tea, 150 kilos of sugar and about 6,000 tea bags. Eventually, it could possibly become 500-600 kilos and will need a team of approximately twelve to move.
The mass is a SCOBY (Symbiotic Culture Of Bacterial Yeast). SCOBY’s grow as skins on fermenting fluids and become thicker over time. The bacteria processes sugar while emitting carbon dioxide, making the fizzy health beverage Kombucha.
The bacteria is extremely alien. Especially at a large size it is hard to identify as alive or not. People who interact with it are uncomfortable and sometimes scared. The bacteria also smells, which does not help.
SCOBY is naively thought to be a health hazard. It contains the same strains of bacteria and yeast present in vinegar and ginger beer1234. Much like any food product, SCOBY becomes dangerous if grown incorrectly, if for example mould grows.
Nevertheless, as the bacteria discreetly grows, it becomes an enormous issue. In the past, measures have been taken to mitigate the issues that it causes.
Ventilation systems have been built which channel air to the outside from the room in which the bacteria sits. The precise location of where the air is channeled to has been contested. BlueAir carbon filtration systems have been implemented as a strategy to combat the odour, having varying degrees of success.
Moving the bacteria is also big issue. A team of six has successfully moved a 111 kilo bacteria, using ratchet straps, slides and trolleys.
Measures such as these should provide the basic procedures from which larger and more robust strategies are developed, for the handling and moving of Mr. Big.
1. The bacteria actually looks quite similar to the ‘mother’ culture used to make vinegar.
5. In certain circumstances ducting has channelled the air ~8 meters away from windows because of inhabitants complaints. It has been channeled ~6 meters away from a creek on an advisor’s anticipation of the English councils requests
6. The issue being that the weight was spread over a slippery 170 cm by 120 cm. Rolling the bacteria together consolidates the weight- which was done with the help of ratchet straps.