Kate and Owen, who are studying for their A levels at Altrincham Grammar School, wanted to get involved in more nature based projects but weren’t sure where to look. The pair saw a social media advert for FungALL, a social enterprise focused on creating a mushroom farm to feed local communities, and both went along to the programme.

From there, they met the project leader Norton, as well as Groundwork’s Youth Lead John. While taking part in the FungALL project, Kate and Owen were encouraged by John to take part in his Green Pioneers project. This gave them both the chance to learn new skills, as well as building on their own knowledge and experiences.

Owen told us all about the exciting new project they were leading through the programme:

“We want to test how changing the substrates that you grow mushrooms in, using the facilities we’ve built, affects the yield of mushrooms. Then we’re gonna write a paper about it and then hopefully get some certificates to say that we’ve done a good job”

Kate has already had an interest in Biology, so felt that this project was a good opportunity to put her knowledge into practice:

“I’d like to be a Biologist when I’m older, but mushrooms were something quite new to me, and that’s what appealed to me about FungALL and this whole project”

While Owen doesn’t have much of an interest in Biology, he enjoys researching and believes that combining their skills will result in a successful project:

“Research is something I’ve always been interested in doing, so this is a good experience for us both to gain more knowledge”

When asked what they’ve enjoyed so far, both said they found the sessions to be unique, and enjoyed using the specialist equipment provided:

“The equipment is cool, right now we’re building a steam pasteuriser, which is a machine that usually we wouldn’t be using. We’ve also enjoyed meeting all the other participants it’s been a great experience for us all”

At the end of their project, the pair will present their findings and hope to publicise them. Kate aims to be able to talk more confidently about the project they’re doing and hopes that the findings will give them the data they need to develop their scientific skills.

When asked what advice they would give to other young people, Owen commented on being more proactive with pursuing interests:

“Being proactive is good advice. Kate just saw the advert and once we came to the sessions we found people who were willing to help us out”

And Kate mentioned that even small, unique actions to contribute to climate change:

“Looking at the small things that you wouldn’t usually associate with being eco-friendly, like mushrooms. Every tiny thing will link to being eco-friendly”

If you know a young person aged 14-17 who wants to connect with others and build their understanding of environmental action, sign them up for our Green Pioneers programme: