Learning to a light fire using an 'iceberg'

Image one: Fruiting bodies of a fungus spotted in Upton Park, Torquay 

Fruiting bodies of a fungus spotted in Upton Park, Torquay - Credit: Groundwork South 

The fungi's need to reach daylight is so strong that it has punched a hole in the thick mulch of wood chip.

More of the toadstool-shaped fruiting bodies are following, the silken sheen of their ‘skin’ emerging through the aromatic woody surface cover.

Mushrooms, toadstools and other fungi are a bit like icebergs; what you see on the surface is just a small fraction of the whole.

In the case of fungi, there can be an extensive network of root-like mycelium weaving through the soil beneath, quietly getting on with the job of breaking down dead wood and other material.

Take a walk through any woodland around Torbay and you should spot the fruiting bodies of another type of fungus, known as King Alfred’s Cakes (Daldinia concentrica).

Once dried, this small, black, ball-like fungus can be used as tinder to help start a fire, making it very useful for a spot of survival skills training in the woods – which is what the Groundwork South team have been doing recently.

Joining the team for one session were a group of five 13-to-17 year old boys, all keen to learn about fire lighting and shelter building.

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Their enthusiasm was infectious, and staff and young people found themselves working together to design and construct a waterproof shelter – its robustness later tested by throwing a bucket of water over it with staff and boys sat underneath!

The sessions were about building connections and trust, being the first step on a journey to help young people deal with climate anxiety.

A journey which may weave from supporting them in taking local-based actions within their homes or community, to learning skills that will help them become proactive.

Whatever direction the journey takes, each step will be aimed at helping young people feel that they can make an impact and that their voice can be heard. 

Groundwork South is delivering the sessions for 13-to-25 year olds as part of ‘Cool Climate’, working alongside patterns from the Imagine This… partnership in Torbay.

For more information about Cool Climate, please contact Hannah Worthington on 07940510616 or email hannah.worthington@groundwork.org.uk