News & blog Mycologists needed to save the world Guest piece by Hannah Kowszun, Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew I've said it before and I'll say it again: fungi are amazing! But I only got the chance to find out because I work for Grow Wild - in general people's awareness and understanding of the fungi kingdom is pretty low. Fungi are neither plant nor animal. They are essential to the eco-system of our planet; without them we would be knee-deep in decaying plant matter. And the potential of developing uses of fungi for food, medicine and many other walks of life is inspiring. As Paul Stamets, a mycologist (fungi expert), outlines in his talk '6 ways mushrooms can save the world', these range from cleaning polluted soil to curing flu. However, the UK has seen a massive decline in professional mycologists over the last 20 years, which limits the possibilities of harnessing the potential of fungi. Paul said: “Mycologists are few and far between. We are under-funded, poorly represented in the context of other sciences - ironic, as the very foundation of our ecosystems are directly dependent upon fungi, which ultimately create the foundation of soils.” That's why we've launched a campaign to get people growing, and eating, their own fungus. A sporeless strain of Pleurotus ostreatus to be exact, which produces an edible grey oyster mushroom as its fruit. From Wednesday 2 May, teams around the country will be receiving their fungus kits, competing to see who can successfully work together to nurture their fungal mycelium to produce a full-grown mushroom. There's a national competition as well for all team to apply for: Best in Show (judged by one of Kew Gardens' professional mycologists) and Best Name (by public vote). Not sure how to organise your team? Use these #TeamFungus job descriptions to get started! If you want to get in on the action, there is a limited number of fungus kits available to buy (at only £15, inc post and packaging) Grow Wild is supported by the Big Lottery Fund using National Lottery funding, and through private and public contributions.