Ecological community or school gardens are a great tool for teaching values such as tolerance, diversity and promote social inclusion of learners from disadvantaged backgrounds (such as migrants, refugees, people with learning disabilities etc.). In addition, learners with learning disabilities (such as children with attention deficit symptoms, ADHD) that participated in our gardening activities, enhanced their nonverbal communication skills, developed awareness of the advantages of order and discipline, learned how to participate in a cooperative effort and improved their relationships with the group members.

Numerous studies point to school and community gardens as a means of improving academic achievement, critical thinking, encouraging community and social development and instilling a sense of belonging. It is also a great tool for teaching in multicultural classes to ensure integration of learners that study in their second language.

Moreover, work in ecological gardens is linked to a higher consumption of fruits and vegetables, healthier lifestyles and a better appreciation and respect for nature. School gardening has also been shown to increase self-esteem, help people to develop a sense of ownership and responsibility, help foster relationships with family members and increase parental involvement.

This course tackles the challenge that most of the children and adults in Europe are living in urban areas, with little nature contact, spending between 2 and 3 hours a day in front of a screen and less than 30 minutes in the open-air (less then prisoners!).

Objectives

  • Promote community/school gardens as a tool for enhancing social inclusion.
  • Show methods and tools for educators to teach ecological, community, inclusive values and healthy, proactive lifestyles.
  • Learn how to use gardens to include and stimulate students with learning disabilities, hyperactivity and attention deficit symptoms, ADHD.
  • Understand how to use the garden to teach about: slow food and nutrition, circular economy, sustainability, teamwork, responsibility and sharing.
  • Learn about design thinking and the permacultural approach.
  • Learn how to make a successful garden. Soil, watering, seeds, associations of plants and insects.
  • Learn how to connect the garden with your curriculum.

Target audience

  • Teachers: primary, secondary and vocational schools.
  • Trainers in non-profit organizations
  • Teacher trainers.
  • School leaders and other school staff.
  • Any professional workers who would like to learn about gardening and sustainable processes.

Training activities

Day 1

  • Opening: welcome to the course.
  • Presentations (interests, abilities, expectations, objectives,…)
  • The importance and benefits of a school/community gardens. Values related to your curriculum.
  • Where does our food come from?
  • Introduction to Garden design. Permacultural Design (practical experiences)
  • Introduction to the working context. The importance of observation. Patterns Fibonacci – The Nature of Numbers.

Day 2

  • Elements of a garden. The soil.
  • Let´s work with our hands. Making a terrace. The sandwich technique.
  • Tackling the challenges of students with learning disabilities, hyperactivity and attention deficit symptoms, ADHD.
  • The importance of the seeds. Lets make a seedbed.
  • The benefits of associating different plants. The importance of some animals and insects in our garden. Bio pesticides.
  • Pollination – Building insect hotels.
  • How to apply these methods and knowledge in your context?

Day 3

  • Individual reflections: sensations and perceptions about the previous day.
  • Is our garbage real waste? Group work on circular economy.
  • Ways to turn our school into a “no waste” place: reducing consumption. Composting and handcrafting our garbage.
  • Hands-on teaching methods for in multicultural classes.
  • Upcycling workshops: transforming different types of plastic. How to reuse plastic. Precious Plastic best practice.

Day 4

  • Visit to a school for special-needs learners that has a sensory garden.
  • Diversity and tolerance to cultural differences
  • Teaching disadvantaged learners.
  • Exchanging examples of successful experiences.
  • Important elements for succes with gardens. Making community. Decision making.
  • Practical activity: objects and furniture that are easy to build and make the garden an enjoyable place

Day 5

  • Art-based techniques: Land-art. Playing with our natural resources. Kokedama Making
  • Teaching to students in their second language
  • Group dynamics: Networking skills
  • Open discussion about possible future collaborations and planning follow up activities
  • How has these course inspired you?
  • Summary of key learning points
  • Final course evaluation and feedback (Things to keep, things to change…)
  • Validation of learning outcomes and handling certificates
  • Cultural activity or guided visit (optional)

Hands-on activities:

  • Seed sowing
  • Soft tip cuttings
  • Leaf cuttings
  • Layering
  • Plant classifying
  • Composting
  • Designing.
  • Building terraces.
  • Creating insect houses.
  • Shovel, hoe, rake.
  • Plastic and glass upcycling workshop.

Methodology

The content is important, but most important is your motivation. We tailor our working methods based upon the participants’ needs and professional profiles in order to ensure easier adaptability and application of the tools to the real life.

Our standard methodology is based on active learning and it is highly participative and practical. We have a hands on approach that comprises group dynamics, exercises and simulation exercises and, for this course in particular, practical work in the garden. Also, we use collaborative learning techniques to foster the exchange of good practices and collective learning.

Learning in the garden

Part of our teaching will take place in an existing garden full of orange trees, walnuts and grapes. We will explore the different ecosystems.

Continuous evaluation of the experience

We will evaluate our individual and team learning processes with new alternatives techniques that you can apply in your teaching afterwards.

Energizers, games and group dynamics are foreseen daily in order to ensure a positive energy and a cooperative learning climate in the group.

We organize optional social and cultural activities in order to give the participants the opportunity to get to know the Canarian and Spanish culture as well as to do some professional networking and exchange good practices.

Certification and validation of learning outcomes

  • Certificates of attendance, including a description of the training content
  • Support with the Europass mobility certificates

Upon request, we also provide educational centers with additional documents that are required to certify the presence to the course and the competences learned. For example, we provide photos of the training course and a sum-up video that can be used for dissemination purposes.

As follow-up activities, we also create online group discussions so that the participants can share with their peers the results of the course and continue reflecting on how they can adapt the methodologies and tools learnt in their context.

 Pre-register to our courses!

Write us some details about your project idea. How many participants do you want to send? What are the profiles of the teachers/staff interested in the course?