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Mushroom Madness!

At the beginning of the year, we worked with a group of young people from the Transition Youth Group at the Ridge Centre in Bestwood, Nottingham North. The project was funded by the #IWill campaign, which encourages young people to take part in social action, and we looked at this through the lens of creativity and curiosity.

In the first few weeks, we spent some time brainstorming with the young people to see what kinds of things they were interested in and there were lots of ideas! In the end, it was decided that we should make a project that is an innovative way of solving an existing problem, and if possible it should relate to Food, Growing and Sustainability.

Mo (our resident environmental biologist) came up with the idea of trying out growing mycelium and using it as a building material and everyone thought it was a fun idea to try out, especially once we found out that mycelium is the underground part of mushrooms! The young people decided that they wanted to build a miniature model of the Ridge (their youth club building) using the mycelium, so that's what we did.

Each week we took the next step in growing the mycelium, one week pressure-cooking plastic bags filled with sawdust and the next wrapping wooden blocks with sellotape. There were lots of strange smells along the way... We also worked with video-maker Isabelle Halliday to capture the process; the young people scripted, directed and starred in the videos, which can be found online. Below is the first of the five videos explaining the project.

The videos will be premiered at a screening with family members at the youth club in order to celebrate the project and show what's possible when using creativity and curiosity to come up with challenges to sustainability in the future. The enthusiasm and engagement of the young people and youth leaders was brilliant, and they've all earned Bronze CREST awards as a result of the project.

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