Welcome to Transition Stourbridge

Transition-Network-logo-77pxTransition Stourbridge is a community-led response to climate change, inequality and shrinking supplies of cheap energy. This process, called ‘Transition’ aims to create stronger, happier communities.

We are based in and around Stourbridge, West Midlands, UK and are part of the Transition Movement.

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Mushrooms – one of nature’s wonders

By Mark Binnersley, from Transition Stourbridge’s Wildlife and Edible Gardening Group

People are terrified of mushrooms.

From an early age, most of us are taught not to touch wild fungus for fear of being poisoned. It’s almost a taboo subject in the same way that death is.

For example, when I tell anyone I work with funeral directors jokes such as ‘bet your company car’s a black estate car’ or ‘that’s a dying trade’ ensue.

Similarly, when it comes to mushrooms, jokes about being a real fun guy (fungi) or mushrooms’ hallucinogenic qualities abound.

There’s a name for this – mycophobia. The fear of fungus.

The truth is, mushrooms get an unfair deal. Very few are deadly poisonous and even fewer will alter your state of mind, sadly.

As for the risk to children – most kids I know remove the mushrooms from their pizza in disgust. The idea that they’re suddenly going to start munching on a red and white fly agaric is ridiculous. Besides, all children know that fairies live under fly agarics, so why would they pick them?

I’ve been interested in fungi for some years now and am able to identify around 20 edible species, making me an absolute novice in the world of mushroom geeks.

But from fairy ring champignons and blushers to beefsteak fungus and amethyst deceivers, it’s rare that a walk in the countryside between May and December doesn’t yield something for the pot. The flavour of many of these mushrooms is diverse and often amazing.

What’s more, collecting wild food is incredibly satisfying if not slightly subversive – it’s a small slice of independence from an industrial food system largely built upon land that once belonged to the commons. Look up enclosure acts.

In the countryside around Stourbridge and often its built-up areas, you’ll find a wide array of mushrooms. Common species are sulphur tufts, shaggy parasols, fly agarics, mottlegills, yellow stainers, ink caps, earthballs, puffballs, polypore fungus and russulas to name but a few. Note, not all of these are edible.

This autumn has been a bumper season, thanks to the mild but extremely damp conditions. And thanks to people’s mycophobia, there are more for me to enjoy.

If you’re thinking about learning a bit more about what nature has to offer from a fungus perspective, you need to do a few things. Firstly, buy some books (more than one, so you can cross-reference). Roger Phillips’ Mushrooms is essential. Secondly, go on a foraging course with an experienced instructor. Google will lead you to someone near you.

The next thing you need to do is exercise patience – get to know mushrooms slowly. Individual species can vary significantly in colour and size due to their age and weather conditions. Identification is based on a set of vital characteristics, covering the cap, gills, pores, stem, ring, base and crucially habitat.  

For example, the blusher (amanita rubescens) is very similar to the panther cap (amanita pantherina). The blusher is edible when cooked whilst the panther cap is seriously poisonous.

Understanding some small but important differences ensure confusion of these two related mushrooms is avoided. The blusher has lines on the outside of its ring, whereas the panther cap’s is smooth. The blusher’s base is a more or less smooth bulb but the panther cap has a clear rim at the top of a volva. And the blusher gets its name from the red blushing that occurs when the mushroom is damaged. A diligent collector won’t mix these two up.

Additionally, in this digital age, never make an ID based on an internet picture or somebody’s comment on Facebook.

Once you do gain confidence and are able to accurately identify a number of mushrooms, please pick considerately.

They provide food for all sorts of animals, providing essential calories as we head into winter.

On top of this, mushrooms are the fruiting bodies of mycelium, the internet of the forest that helps trees to distribute carbon, phosphorus and nitrogen. It commands our utmost respect.

By leaving some mushrooms behind, you’ll help them to multiply, as their spores (seed equivalents) are blown across woodland or pasture by the wind. 

Hopefully, you’re now feeling a little less mycophobic than you did before. And if you don’t think you’ll ever be able to bring yourself to eat a wild mushroom, you might be able to look at them with a new-found admiration and wonder.

Some mushrooms might be magic but all of them are magical.

Apple Juicing Day at Ashfield Gardens – Sunday 23rd Sept

pick applesApple Juicing Day at Ashfield Market Garden, Stourbridge

Date: Sunday 23rd Sept, from 10am

Where: Ashfield Camphill Market Garden, Sugar Loaf Lane, Iverley, near Stourbridge, DY10 3PB.

It’s that time of year again when the fruit is falling from the trees. We are holding our first Apple Juicing Day on Sunday 23rd September.

Bring apples / bottles if you have, apron / chopping board if you want to. There will be plenty of apples there, so come also if you don’t have any apples to bring.

  • Bring and Share lunch!
  • Bring aprons and chopping boards!
  • All welcome!

FILM: We the uncivilized – Saturday 21st April

The film documents the search of a young couple to find a different way of living-to find community, meaning, and a way of living in harmony with the earth and raises questions about our so called ‘civilized’ ways of living and hence the title.

Refreshments will be served and we hope to generate some discussion after the film.

Date: Saturday 21st April
Time: 7.30pm
Venue: Friends Quaker Meeting House, 37 Scotts Road, Stourbridge, DY8 1UR (map)

Entry by Donation | Refreshments | Discussion | All Welcome


Disillusioned by a story of consumption and alienation, a couple are called to action, and embark on a yearlong exploration around the UK, in search of the seeds of a different story, and with it, hope for the future.

We join Pete and Lily on an intimate and life-changing journey as they confront the stark reality of our times, and discover a hidden culture of connection and belonging.

Featuring conversations with grassroots activists alongside pioneering voices, including; Satish Kumar, Polly Higgins, Bruce Parry, Martin Shaw, and The Late Patrick Whitefield. A tale of both deep grief and inspired hope.


River Stour Clean-up – Sunday 14th May

River Stour clean-up event

Date: Sunday14th May
Time: 10.15 for 10.30
Place: Still to be decided

Other dates: June 11th, July 16th, August 20th

Please email Rosanne for further information


We have managed to get the river bank cleared of tipping at Bagley Street by contacting the owners of the adjoining business. There was quick co-operation which was wonderful.

A bird watcher has alerted us to another blockage in the river where a fallen tree is stopping a lot of rubbish at Bells Mill before the fishery. We are looking into who has riperian ownership of the river there.
This may be a good way forward for the future – tracking river rubbish and contacting and pressing riperian owners to meet their responsibilities.

All the best to everyone. Hoping for good weather and a low river level for our next event. As usual, many thanks for the support. Rosanne

Transforming the Food System – A public talk and short film

start_a_groupTransforming the Food System – A public talk and short film

You are warmly invited to an evening on ‘Transforming the Food System’.

When: Saturday 10th December, 7pm for 7.30pm

Where: Friends Meeting House, 37 Scotts Road, Stourbridge, DY8 1UR.

Short film featuring the ‘Incredible Edible’ grow your own food network

A talk from forager and nutrition researcher Owen Raybould: ‘Can healthy eating save the planet?’ about: Ecological farming, Soil science, Climate change, Human health, food network and local projects.

  • Refreshments available
  • Entry by donation
  • All welcome!

Looking forward to seeing you there…


Nature Returns to the River Stour

River Stour behind Lion Health Centre
River Stour behind Lion Health Centre & Murrays Chemist

Thanks to our dedicated and committed volunteers we’ve almost completely cleared the River Stour behind the Lion Health Centre. The wonderful news is that as we’ve cleared away discarded shopping trollies and tyres, the wildlife has returned.

On Sunday 5th June we saw fish swimming in the now fast flowing river, and as we were leaving we spotted a Kingfisher. It’s incredible to see nature returning to this stunning wildlife corridor we have right in the heart of Stourbridge.

Giant hogweed, River Stour behind Lion Health Centre
Giant hogweed, River Stour behind Lion Health Centre

If you visit be very careful as also at the moment there is Giant Hogweed growing, which contains toxic sap which can cause severe burns. And if you see any litter, please pick it up and help us keep our town Green and Tidy for us all and the wildlife. Many thanks.


Photo’s from Sunday 5th June

More Info

Giant Hogweed

River Stour Clean-up – Sunday 5th June

River Stour Clean-up Event, Richardson Drive, Amblecote, StourbridgeOur next event is Sunday June 5th at Murray’s, Bradley Road, Stourbridge.

Please check email before coming on Sunday in case of changes due to weather, etc. For any newcomers : Please email to be added to the mailing list, thanks

Date: Sunday 5th June
Time: 10.15 for 10.30 start
Place: Murray’s by Lion Health, Bradley Road.


Please contact Rosanne ( to be added to our River Stour Clean-Up email list to be kept up-to-date with any changes due to the weather conditions closer to the time.

Photo’s from previous events


Foraging Walk – Saturday 9th April

foragingJoin us for a Spring Foraging Walk led by Owen Raybould. These walks have always been very interesting and informative, as well as highly enjoyable!

Date: Saturday 9th April
Time: 2pm
Meet: Blackstone Riverside Park free car park, meet there at 2pm, start the walk at 2:15pm. Tel number Owen: 07525261683
Cost: Donations

Please Note, very important: The location is the Blackstone Riverside Car park located on the B4194, situated just outside the town centre, (see map link below), and not the Blackstone picnic site car park which is located on the A456 Stourport Road on the other side of the river.

Map link:,+Worcestershire/52.3658366,-2.3109947/@52.3706853,-2.3225424,15z/data=!3m1!4b1!4m8!4m7!1m5!1m1!1s0x48706180b4fee04b:0x89a1061589a23d3d!2m2!1d-2.316973!2d52.375539!1m0

Directions: Coming from the Kidderminster area, enter Bewdley and cross over the bridge in the town centre. Turn left at the church down the narrow street, follow the road over a small hill and then under the bypass, the car park is then clearley signposted immediately on your left after the bypass.

Owen’s Meetup website:

Looking forward to seeing you there!

FILM: Planetary – Saturday 19th March

Our next film evening we’ll be showing ‘Planetary

Date: Saturday 19th March
Time: 7pm – Refreshments, 7.30pm – Film
Venue: Friends Meeting House, 37 Scotts Road, Stourbridge, DY8 1UR (map)

We are in the midst of a global crisis of perspective and have forgotten the undeniable truth that everything is connected. A provocative and breathtaking wakeup call, a cross continental journey, exploring our cosmic origins and our future as a species. Planetary is a poetic and humbling reminder that it is time to shift our perspective. It asks us to rethink who we really are, to reconsider our relationship with ourselves, each other and the world around us.


  • Donations on the door to help cover costs
  • Refreshments available
  • Do come, and bring friends! All welcome

Foraging and the Future of Food – Saturday 27th February

foragingAn Evening with Owen Raybould – Nutrition researcher and Forager – on ‘Foraging and the Future of Food’.

Date: Saturday 27th February
Time: 7.30pm
Where: Friends Meeting House, 37 Scotts Road, Stourbridge, DY8 1UR (map)

Exploring different ways of bringing nature and wild ecology back into our food production. Including a short documentary and time for Q & A.

Owen’s talk will cover Permaculture, Re-forestation, Organics, Wildflower seeding, Herd and forest grazing, the importance of fungi in soil, and direct human involvement, such as Community Supported Agriculture.

  • Refreshments available
  • Entry by donation
  • All Welcome!