All activities are available for download on the Downloads page >>


Activity 1: TRADITIONAL vs PERMACULTURE APPROACHES

The activity consists of looking at some of the most characteristic techniques and means of traditional agronomy and relating them to their impacts and consequences for the vegetable garden. Permaculture alternatives are then presented in order to compare the two approaches to agronomy.

See the teaser here >>
COMPETENCES: 
  • Knowledge about benefits of permaculture.
  • Knowledge about the most common techniques of permaculture.
  • Communication.
  • Learning to learn.
  OBJECTIVES: 
  • To reflect on the uses of external inputs in traditional agronomy.
  • To learn about the environmental impact of some of the most commonly used inputs in traditional agronomy.
  • To learn about some of the most common uses of plants in permaculture.
  • To learn how to use one's own crops to get an added yield from them within the garden system.
  • Print and cut out the cards provided in annexes 3, 4 and 5. (We recommend to print them on a coloured paper, different for each document and double side)
  • Prepare a table for each working group you are going to form.
  • Place craft paper on each of the tables.
  • Draw the columns to be filled in:

1) conventional agronomy techniques,

2) benefits and impacts and

3) permaculture techniques.

Also print Annex 6 

It is important to clarify that each type of production uses the means and resources of the other. When we speak of predominant traditional agronomy, we do not mean that traditional farmers do not also use some means of organic farming, such as crop rotation or organic fertilisers, traditional seeds, etc. It is important to emphasise this, especially for those participants who may be offended by simplifying their way of working.

1. Introduce the topic:

To this day, conventional agronomy is based on the use of inputs to improve crop productivity (fertilisers, phytosanitary products, tillage machinery), which, in most cases, come from outside the plot. These supplements are highly effective during the first years of use. However, their long-term use results in a system that is increasingly dependent on external inputs, with the consequent economic cost and environmental impact (soil erosion, reduction of soil microbiota, contamination of aquifers).

It is therefore necessary to look for new forms of production that are more resilient and make use of the garden's own products, to achieve a system that, although it means waiting a few seasons until it is effective, in the long term is more efficient and, undoubtedly, more environmentally friendly.We are going to compare some aspects of traditional agronomy with permaculture starting with the most basic approaches: objectives, needs of the garden and means to achieve them.

2. Ice-breaker:

In a circle, ask every participant to think and express through mime, one activity that is used in conventional agronomy. The rest of the participants shall guess what the mime refers to.

3. Divide the participants in groups of 4-5 people. Assign a table for each group. And give them the cards

4. On each table there should be a piece of paper (the bigger the better, depending on the possibilities of the class). The paper will have a table with three columns drawn on it, with the headings:

  • Resources and techniques of conventional agronomy
  • Benefit, impact and consequences
  • Resources and techniques of permaculture

5. Give the groups the first and the second fist of cards, that corresponds to the first and the second header: Resources and techniques of conventional agronomy and Benefit, impact and consequences.

Ask them to read the cards and match each technique with its impact using the table. If they do not understand any of the techniques, they can read the definitions on the other side, or, if it is not possible to print the cards double-sided, on a separate sheet of paper.

6. When they finish task 5, give them the third group of cards, corresponding to Resources and techniques of permaculture. Ask them to put them in the table matching the conventional techniques they are an alternative for.

7. If a group is well motivated and they finish soon enough, you can ask them to write a fourth column with some of the benefits and impacts of permaculture techniques they can deduce.

8. Have a debriefing to check the results. The aim is not to correct mistakes of wrong matches, but to allow participants to share what they have learned. Ask each group to name one thing that stood out to them and to name one benefit of permaculture that they learned from the activity.

9. In Annex 6 you can find the table with solutions, in case you want to print them or if anybody asks for it.

  • How would you summarise the advantages of permaculture in one sentence?
  • What are its disadvantages?
  • Which practices would be easily exportable to other types of agronomy and would have a big impact?
  • Add pictures on the cards for disadvantaged groups that are not used to read a lot.
  • Make a big pannel with the whole group, ask each participant to read one card and place it in order. 
  • Reference, link here, [seen on 00/00/2021]
  • Reference, author, year
  • Reference, author, link here, [seen on 00/00/2021]

Activity 2: GARDEN WEB

This game aims to deepen the understanding about how the diverse elements of a living eco-system 

are interconnected.  In this game each participants get a card for a different organism or natural element and the group forms an ecosystem of a garden. During the activity the participants look for the other elements they depend on to be able to live and discover how all the participants in an ecosystem depend on each other. At least six people are needed to play this game, and it could be played with a large group as well. 

The extension of this game is to intoduce “disturbing” factors like pesticids, which with scissors cut the connection lines.

See the teaser here >>

COMPETENCES:

Ecological competences:

  • Awareness about biodiversity and eco-systems
  • Awareness about human impact on biodiversity
  • Knowledges about needs and benefits of plants and animals

Social and individual competences:

  • Group work and communication
  • collaboration

OBJECTIVES:

  • The participants identify the different organism in a garden
  • The participants identify the different relations of organisms in an eco-system
  • The participants are getting familiar with holistic approaches of gardening
  • The participants learn to identify needs and benefits of different organism
Activity can be done in groups of 6 till 30 participants. There is no need for special knowledge to do this activity.

Material needed:

  1. As many cards as participants
  2. As many pens as participants
  3. A ball of string
  4. Optional: a flipchart, scissors

Place needed:

  1. Natural space / Garden
  2. Big enough for group to be able to make a circle
1. Go in a garden or in a specific natural place with your group
2. ask them to observe their surroundings and ask them to list the different organisms /elements they observe or they presume are present in the garden. At this phase moderator can write all the elements mentioned by participants on the cards and also gather the observations on a flipchard.
3. Gather the cards and  put them in a box. Everybody picks a card.
4. The person leading the game should explain that the group now represents an ecosystem – a community of living things. Everyone should go around the circle and read out their plant or animal. The person leading the game should make sure that everyone knows what the plants and animals are.
5. The person leading the game should give someone the ball of string.
6. The person with the ball of string should look around the circle and find something they think they’re connected to, for example, something they’d eat (or be eaten by!) or a place they’d live.
7. The player with the string should hold onto the end of the string, throw the rest of the ball of string to the player they’re connected to and so on. Everyone should continue making connections and throwing the ball of string around until everyone is connected at least once.
8. When everybody is connected at least once everyone should talk about their different connections and what kind of connections it is (alimentation, fertilization etc.).
9. The person leading the game can then introduce “disturbing factors” like a specific pesticide or cutting a tree.
10. The group should then decide what effects on these strings the disturbing factor is inducing. Eventually they should cut the connection with scissors.
11. Everyone should say how cutting one or two strings affects him/her or other parts of the web. Encourage everyone to think about the domino effect on other species. How will removing one plant or animal end up affecting the whole ecosystem?
12. The person leading the game should help everyone understand that this shows why all sorts of life is really important. This variety of life is called biodiversity.
13.The person leading the game should explain that humans are part of this web of life – we need biodiversity to survive.
  • Which organisms are missing and could be beneficial for this garden ?
  • Which organisms are in danger?
  • Are there “useless” organisms?
  • If people have difficulties with language, they can also draw on the card
  • If people are shy or demotivated you can also start with an ice-breaker game with the ball of string

Activity 3: THE JAR TEST

This is a very practical and dynamic activity. Participants will be ask to touch, feel, observe and interact with the soil. Participants from every backgrounds can learn through direct experience which combines movement (practical activity) and relaxation (observation) and develop a deeper connection with such an important element: the soil.

Soil is the foundation of every kind of ecosystem living on earth. There is a strong correlation between the health of the soil and the health of communities. Plants need good soil to prosper. When planting and growing food, soil becomes a fundamental aspect to take into consideration. Soil testing is a key tool in sustainable soil management and, consequently, in permaculture as well. Soil testing also allows us to monitor in time what’s the impact of our activities on the ecosystem and to understand how (and if) we are regenerating the soil.

Soil texture / soil components

The way a soil “feels” is called soil texture and represents the percentage or relative proportion of sand, silt and clay present in a soil. Sand, silt, and clay are names that describe the size of individual particles in the soil, as a result of primordial stones decomposition. Soil texture is fundamental to soil properties and their impact on plant growth and overall farm productivity. Texture is a parameter that influences soil behavior in many ways, being an important factor in water retention and availability, soil structure, aeration, drainage, soil workability and trafficability, soil biodiversity, and the supply and retention of nutrients. It is for this reason that measuring soil texture is of great importance in agricultural production.

See the teaser here >>

COMPETENCES:

Ecological competences:

  • Knowledge about geographical structures and landscapes
  • Knowledge about water-management
  • Knowledge and skills about soil composition and compost
  • Knowledge about permaculture

Social and individual competences:

  • Connection with the environment
  • Precision and structure
  • Attention focus and sense of observation 
  • Time management / slow-activity vs. fast-activities / thinking in terms of time-taking processes
  • Self organization within groups / mutual training / learning by doing
  • Self confidence in experimental activities

OBJECTIVES:

The objective of this activity is to learn about soil composition and soil formation processes. Participants learn how to recognize different types of soil and have the opportunity to share knowledge about which plants fit better to a specific type of soil. This exercise combines fun and science. While getting their hands dirty, participants can play with different jars and have fun shaking the soil. This would allow them to have a better learning experience and the learning outcome will stay with them longer, as associated with a moment of fun. The full experience wants to show participants how the soil formation results from millennial decomposition processes and how forces of nature have played together for ages, resulting in what we now call soil and gives us foods and plants.

GROUP CHARACTERISTICS:

This is a learning experience for participants from any background.

Ideally, couples could be: someone who has already done the activity before at least once (soil ambassador) + someone who has never (new comer). In this case, a further dimension of mutual learning and training would occur.

Essential toolkit: Jar(s) and lid(s) in equal numbers, water, soil, permanent marker(s).

Beautifully arrange the toolkit on a table that looks inviting for participants.

Colorful paper for brainstorming or displaying information, bowls and spoons to better handle the soil can be of support. Speaker, or music in general, is a plus.

The toolkit for this activity is characterized by its simplicity and affordability. It is good for facilitators to practice this activity in advance to get a feeling of how much water is needed and the proportion of soil and water to use in order to get the best result.

Introduction

1. Introduction: what does “soil texture” mean? What are the different components of the soil (sand, silt, clay and organic matter)?

2. Ask participants if they know what these terms mean and eventually let them guess what could be the difference among them (the difference is: clay particles are smaller than 0.002 mm in diameter. Some clay particles are so small that ordinary microscopes do not show them. Silt particles are from 0.002 to 0.05 mm in diameter. Sand ranges from 0.05 to 2.0 mm.)

3. Explain to participants what the components are, what’s the difference among them (by means of examples; ideally you could bring sand and clay and let participants touch them to feel the difference).

Hands-on activity

4. Divide participants into 2-ppl groups.

5. Ask every couple of participants to go around and take half a jar of soil from a place they find interesting - the texture of that specific soil will then be analysed (alternatively you can ask participants before the activity to bring some soil, e.g. from their garden or from a place that they like, or a soil they are curious about).

6. Have a round with some consideration of the different soils - introduction of the soil. Ask participant to touch and feel the soil and make assumptions about the percentage of each component (very approximately). Ideally, you should bring some sand and clay to let them experience the difference among the two.

7. Ask participants to Break up all lumps if necessary and to remove any large stones (>2mm) or large organic matter (sticks, roots, etc.). This activity could take some minutes and give time to talk. Here there are two option:

  1. Either you leave participants free to talk about what they want and this way they’ll get to know each other and improve social skills

  2. Or you pick a topic / ask a thematic question.

8. Using your fingers, pack the soil down as much as possible to reduce pore space and mark the level of soil on the side of the jar with a pen.

9. Stir in water until ¾ full, then shake well for 3 minutes or until the sample is fully suspended in the water. Here some music can be played or physical activities in general.

10. Leave for 10 seconds then mark on the side of the jar the top level of settled material: this is the volume of sand, as it is the heaviest one and the first one which settles down.

11. Leave for another 10 minutes and mark the top level of newly settled material: this is the volume of silt.

12. What is floating on top of the water is organic matter. Clay is still suspended in the water and will take up to 24 hours to settle down. Participants can take the jar back home with them and see the final result the day after.

13. In case you went for 6.b. (asking a question) you can re-discuss now the assumptions that participants did at the beginning, about the type of soil and the composition.

Closing

Collect and mix a bit of all the soils and plant a seed. The common ground would be a symol of unity, diversity & integration.

Follow up

With the same soil you can carry out other experiments (e.g. pH value - how can we modify acidity with permaculture?), to get a better picture of the soil and a wider set of indicators. With participants from a mroe scientific background, you can use the soil textural triangle, assess the percentage of the different components and identify the type of soil.
  • Why is soil so important for both nature and society?
  • Why is soil testing so important for gardening?
  • How does soil texture affect the several functions of the soil?
  • How do different crops adapt to different soil texture? What crops are better suited for different soil texture?
  • How could we change the soil texture?
  • Observing the deposition process and exploring the soil formation process, did you find any particular dynamics that could be reflected on our societies (e.g. reflection on different roles of individuals in the societies or different communities having different voice/weight in global political debates)?
  • Why is it so important to preserve the soil?
  • Clearly instruct participants about the proportion of soil and water (explain them that it's not so strict, but there should be a good proportion of water and soil in order to get a clear result - with a bit of practice, it gets easier).
  • Check the words (mostly sand, clay and silt) in the language of your participants.
  • Prepare visual explanation of the procedure.
  • If people are afraid to walk around to collect the soil, you should organize a “mentor” for these groups, which can accompany the exploration.
  • Observing: if there are some e.g. blind participants, put them in couple with one person who can; invite them to self organize in order to tackle this challenge.
  • Advise people to pay attention and don’t expose themselves to risk while they are collecting the soil or practicing the experiment.
  • If participants come from a more scientific background, pay more attention in using jars of the same size.
Food and agricultural organization of the United Nations - Soil testing methods - Global Soil Doctors Programme. A farmer-to-farmer training programme Soil testing protocol developed within the Open Soil Atlas project (Berlin) : LINK  

Activity 4: USES AND FUNCTIONS OF PLANTS

The activity consists of looking at the uses and functions that we can give to the different plant species in our permaculture garden.

Each group works with a pack of cards with information about different plant species. The groups read the information and try to deduce what uses can be given to that plant in order to achieve a balanced ecosystem within the garden.

See the teaser here >>

COMPETENCES:

  • Knowledge about biodiversity and fauna
  • Diversity and inclusion (biodiversity)
  • Communication
  • Learning to learn

OBJECTIVES:

  • Know some of the uses of different species within permaculture.
  • Understand the importance and benefits of biodiversity
  • To know some natural alternatives to the use of pesticides.
Print and cut the cards in Annex 1, also print Annex 2 Prepare 4 pieces of paper for each group with the titles:
  • Protection
  • Health (of plants)
  • Human use
  • Fertilisation
Prepare 1 table for each group    
1.Introduce the subject: One of the principles of permaculture is based on observing nature in order to try to emulate it and create a system that is self-regulating. In a permaculture garden, many species of plants, animals and micro-organisms coexist to form a small ecosystem. Each of the species has a role to play in establishing a natural balance. We have seen that combining different plant species in a garden allows us to reduce dependency on external inputs. In addition, we can combine our plants in an efficient way so that some species benefit others. In this sense, we can assign some functions or utilities to the plants according to the benefit they bring to the garden system as a whole. Let's take a look at some of them.
2.Describe the four main functions we can give plants in our garden:
  • Protection: Some plants serve to modify the climatic conditions of the orchard and make them more suitable for the rest: protection against the wind, absorption of excess humidity, providing shade, etc.
  • Health: We can grow plants that serve to minimise the impact of pests on our crops by repelling or confusing harmful insects.
  • Human use: Most plants are cultivated for the benefits they have for us. Mainly to provide us with food, but also to produce medicinal preparations, condiments, wood, dyes…
  • Fertilisation: Some plants have the ability to extract nutrients from the atmosphere or from deep soil layers. We can grow these species and then integrate them into the soil or make preparations that fertilise the soil.
3. Show the cards to the participants (Annex 1). Explain that each card contains a description of the species in the picture.
4. Divide the group into small subgroups of 3-5 people. Give each group a pack of cards and 4 pieces of paper with the names of the 4 functions of plants.
5. Give the instructions: Each group should read the information on the cards and assign a place to each one according to the function they think the plant might have in a vegetable garden by placing it next to the label with the name of that function. Make it clear that some cards may have more than one function and that they will therefore have to place them in a way that shows that they are in several groups at the same time.
6. While the groups are working, visit the tables to clarify doubts. Point out that for plants that have two or more uses, it is not necessary to choose only one, help them to find a way to represent several functions at the same time (for example, we can place the orange tree between the labels "protection" and "human use" to show that it has both functions at the same time). Let each group find their own way to represent this.
7. Invite the groups to share the information they found most interesting.
8. After the reflection, you can give the participants a summary table of uses of plants (Annex 2)
  • Which of these species are commonly found in a traditional kitchen garden? Which are not?
  • What benefits can biodiversity conservation have?
  • Why do permaculture gardens sometimes look like jungles full of mixed species?

Activity 5: URBAN-NATURE-TOUR

The biodiversity is decreasing due to many human activities. About 40 percent of the 40,177 species assessed using the IUCN Red List criteria are now listed as threatened with extinction and scientists have estimated that millions more species are at risk which have not been formally recognized. 

This activity aims at discovering biodiversity in our own neighbourhoods and also the threats to it. 

Due to the direct experience and contact with the diversity and endangered species, participants get a more tangible awareness about biodiversity and our impact on it.

See the teaser here >>

COMPETENCES:

For the competences you can follow the ASK model:
  • Attitudes
  • Skills
  • Knowledge
Traditional schooling has emphasis on knowledge and, especially in adult learning, it is very important to focus on hands-on activities, based on experiential learning.

Ecological:

For ecological competences, the ask model has a correspondence in the heart, head and hand model, where the competence and activities must include all these components to be considered acquired Personal: select competences that also promote personal development, such as self-awareness on personal identity, values, strengths and weaknesses in connection with the environment.
  • Awareness about biodiversity
  • Awareness about human impact on biodiversity
  • increased responsibility in own actions and choices..
  • Knowledges about plants

Social:

Take into account a constructivist approach that valorizes the competences already existent in the group and teamwork competences.
  • Group work
  • Sense of observation
  • Use of digital tools

OBJECTIVES:

To define the learning objectives in accordance to the envisioned competences, you can take the operational objectives approach or the  SMART objectives approach:

- Operational objectives are attainable, action-oriented, short-term goals organizations set and accomplish as a means of partially achieving larger, long-term objectives.

- SMART: S – Specific, M – Measurable, A – Attainable, R – Realistic, T – Time-bound

  • The participants can recognize the plants in their city
  • The participants learn basic infos of the plants of their city: where they come from, which environment they need, which fruits they have, if they have genetic input, if they are used by humans etc., 
  • The participants can recognize plants which are threatened to disappear
  • The participants learn to use a digital app for acquiring knowledges 
  • The participants learn to teach others about their discoveries and share knowledges
  • Sense of belonging: as knowing some “special things” about the city they live in, participants should feel more connected to the place they live.
Activity can be done in groups of 6 till 30 participants.
Instructions for us: The purpose of this part is for the participants to know what materials they need before doing the activity and, at the same time, give them confidence that they don’t need much prior knowledge in order to do the activity and encourage them to just do it. There is no need for special knowledge to do this activity.
  1. Participants should install a Plant identification app on their mobile like “PlantNet”. If participants have no mobile or no internet, organize that they have one in each couple. All the participants should install the same app.
  2. Prepare printed maps of the city: divide the city in areas. Number of areas correspond to half of the number of your participants: If you have 20 participants divide in 10 areas. Print the map of the areas. Prepare a pen for each area.
  3. Prepare a small game where the participants are divided into couples, and attribute an area of the city to them. (maybe it’s good if in every area there is also a park)
  4. Prepare a briefing in simple languages
  5. Prepare a bag of seeds as rewards
  6. Prepare a safe space for meeting, sharing and reflecting
Instructions for us:
Try to divide and structure the activity in small steps so it is easy to follow by our target groups. You can include links, videos, images etc. in this section in order to make the activity easier to understand and the resource more interactive. Try to predict possible obstacles, doubts and questions that may arise. This part can also be finalized after the national pilot tests. 
1. Divide the participants into couples and give them a printed map of an area of the city: best is to make this task together with an ice-breaker if people don’t know each other
2. Explain them the task: participants have 45 min (or more according to your participants). To discover as much different types of plants as possible in their defined area. Every plant they discover, they take a picture of it, scan it and then wirte it on their map with the name and basic infos. Every plant = 1 point. 
3. Explain them the use of the app: once they scan the plant, they can identify by crossovers and they can go on different pages with different infos about the plant. Make an example with one plant in front of the group.
4. They can gain special points with 1) Plant who comes from other land = 2 points, 2) Plants who come from other continents = 3 Points and finally Plant which is threatened of extinction (red list plants) = 5 points.
5. When coming back together, Install the maps of the participants so that participants can do a “gallery walk” of the participants make a “puzzle” of their mobiles on the ground with an image of a plant which was not covered by others. Phones need here to be put in no sleeping modus. 
6. You gather the points and as reward every point  with 1 seed of a flower (for example), which they can plant.
 
NOTE: If you don’t want to play with points and competition, you can also give them instructions: find 5 plants like this, 3 plants which were imported, 1 plant which is threatened by extinction etc.
For inspiration, you can use the questions from Kolb's experiential learning model.
  • Did you notice?
  • Why did that happen?
  • Does that happen in life?
  • Why does that happen?
  • How can you use that?
 
  • Which plant surprised you?
  • Which plant should have more space/presence in the city? And why?
  • Are certain areas more diverse than others and why?
  • Why is it important to have a diversity of plants in the city?
  • Check if there is some app in the language of your participants
  • If people are afraid to walk through the city, you should organize a “mentor” for these groups, which can accompany the exploration
  • Writing and reading: if there are some participants who have difficulties reading and writing, put them in couple with one person who can and give them the responsibility to take the picture and identify with the scan.
  • Reference, link here, [seen on 00/00/2021]
  • Reference, author, year
  • Reference, author, link here, [seen on 00/00/2021]

Activity 6: WATER MANAGEMENT

Water management is very necessary but adults that are not actively involved or studied the subject have little knowledge about challenges and techniques to solve them. Water management requirements done through laws appear to regular people as absurd or unnecessary because they do not know the logic behind.

Polluted water is toxifying the planet and harming people. Caused by :

  • Agriculture which pollutes groundwater
  • Automobiles whose emissions pollute clouds
  • Industry polluting air, soil and water
  • Salinization caused by deforestation, rising water tables & agricultural watering
  • Bottled water and cement are taking water out of the hydrologic cycle
  • Erosion is a natural process that moves water, nutrients and resources.

Erosion can disturb existing systems and may replenish water sources, spread nutrient and feed life. Consider reducing erosion by storing or directing water, reinforcing soil with plants or physical materials.

In the following ‘learning-by-doing’ team game participants will have the chance to explore water management challenges and mitigation techniques.

See the teaser here >>

COMPETENCES:

Ecological competences:

  • Development of documentation skills
  • Demonstrating an understanding of the consequences of one's behaviour in relation to the environment
  • Demonstrating an ecological way of thinking in making decisions
  • Understanding the importance of water management for environment preservation.
  • Developing a proactive attitude towards applying water management techniques in their home community.

Social competences:

  • Ability to collaborate with specialists in other fields.
  • Developing interpersonal relationships and strengthening the skills needed for teamwork.
  • Ability to appreciate diversity and multiculturalism
  • Stimulating creativity and developing a competitive and innovative spirit, as well as teamwork.

OBJECTIVES

  • Training and cultivating adults' interest and responsibility for water management.
  • Promoting and stimulating healthy behaviours towards the elements of the environment.
  • Empowering adults to decrease water pollution in their community and to engage in water cleaning and reusage.
  • Stimulating the critical and self-critical spirit regarding the attitude towards water management.
  • Increase knowledge about water management techniques
Activity to be done preferably in groups of 4 to 6 trainees.
Prepare 4 islands contours drawn on flipchart papers.  You need to give paper and coloured pens/markers to the groups of trainees you train, plasticine and cardboard. The trainees need access to internet or pictures and articles about the water management techniques. “Water friends” stickers for the end of the game, for each participant.
The trainer reads the storytelling scenario: “As a consequence of climate change, your city near the water is now submerged. You escape with members of your community on 4 ships, bringing as much materials and resources you can with you. During your voyage, winds separate the ships, that end up on four different islands” The participants are split between 4 groups, with the following scenarios for water challenges for each island:
  • Island 1: Drought – It’s summer, it’s extra hot and it has not rained in over 2 months. There are water restrictions, not allowing garden watering, What techniques can you use to ensure your plants can remain healthy and resilient?
  • Island 2: Water contamination – there has been oil activity in your area. You notice the water tastes funny and animals have been getting sick. You suspect water contamination. What techniques can you use to keep the water in your area clean and safe?
  • Island 3: Flooding – It’s a warmer spring than usual and there is more run off from the mountains than expected, causing devastating flooding. What techniques can you implement to handle extra water flow during these historical weather events?
  • Island 4: Soil erosion – you live in a climate with heavy rain. In sloped areas, especially in the deforested area, there is mass soil erosion and your landscape is being depleted. What techniques can you use to restore the soil@ To avoid more soil erosion?
Participants water challenge and 2-3 techniques and are asked to consider their scenario and to create a design that solves their challenge using the techniques they are given:
  • Island 1: Drought – Dew collection, Rain Tanks and Cisterns
Dew collection: is primarily used in dried or arid environments and can provide much of a systems water in these conditions. High humidity and low cooling temperatures create the best yield for dew collection. Rain tanks and Cisterns: used to catch water from different sources, mainly from roofs. Tanks should be level and if, possible, raised for water pressure. A first flush system is recommended with roof water catchment.

  • Island 2: Water contamination – Grey water treatment, Rain garden
Grey water treatment: effective for cycling, cleaning water and flushing nutrients into your agricultural systems. There are a series of phases, including filtration, settling, aeration and UV exposure. Rain garden: Low cost and low maintenance systems used for water capture and filtration. Typically built on a higher part of a property and connected to a downspout or a grey water system. 

  • Island 3: Flooding – Flow through dam, Swales
Flow-through dams are built solely for flood control and are used to protect against flooding in downstream areas. Because this type of dam is built solely for flood control, the opening (spillway) is at the same level as the riverbed. This means that when there isn't excess water, the river will continue its natural flow. However, when water levels rise, the dam slows the water flow through the opening to prevent flooding.  Swales: a level ditch on contour with planted downhill berm intended for catching overland flow and infiltrating into the ground to recharge the surrounding soils, plant root systems and aquifer. 

  • Island 4: Soil erosion – Reforestation, keyline design
Reforestation: Trees effectively condense water from the air at night an increases air humidity, cloud formation and rain. Tree roots also help reduce erosion during heavy rain and flooding events.  Keyline design is a landscaping technique of maximizing the beneficial use of the water resources of a tract of land and prevent erosion. The "keyline" denominates a specific topographic feature related to the natural flow of water on the tract. Keyline design is a system of principles and techniques of developing rural and urban landscapes to optimize use of their water resources.
  •  Participants are encouraged to use illustrations on their flipchart papers, make 3D sculptures with plasticine or use other creative means to share their designs.
  • Players can also trade techniques with other groups and are welcomed to use their own elements in addition to the ones they were given.
In the end we do a “gallery walk” with everyone to visit each groups design. Participants can become teachers, sharing their essentialised learnings and the techniques they used to the whole group. In the end of each presentation, the participants receive “Water friends” stickers.
  • What did today's activity consist of?
  • Would you have liked to be on another island? Why?
  • Do you have any other solutions for other islands?
  • How can we apply what we have learned in our daily lives? Which scenario is relevant for you home region?
If the group doesn’t have a lot of time available, only one of the steps of the tool can be performed
  • Permaculture design, link here, [seen on 04/07/2022]

Activity 7: PERMACULTURE ZONING

This activity is a mix between a role-playing game and a board game, which will help participants to familiarize themselves with the internal dynamics of a permaculture garden. This activity consists in identifying the elements of a permaculture garden and understanding how they interconnect.

Participants are then asked to become themselves one of these elements and natural factors and locate themselves where they think they’ll have more chances to prosper. In this way, participants will be able to better empathize with the natural ecosystem and understand its challenges. The experience will also give them an idea about how natural ecosystems can be imitated for co-living in teams and, on a larger scale, in societies.

See the teaser here >>

COMPETENCES: 

Ecological:

  • Knowledge about geographical structures and landscapes
  • Knowledge about crop management
  • Knowledge about botanical processes and natural cycles
  • Knowledge about climate and climate change
  • Knowledge about biodiversity and fauna
  • Knowledge about energy and energy-saving
  • Knowledge about permaculture

Personal:

  • Attention and care
  • Sense of control
  • Ownership on actions
  • Creativity
  • Precision and structure

Social:

  • Project-management
  • Ownership of public space
  • Collective and democratic decision-making
  • Sense of belonging
  • Sense of usefulness
  • Sense of support and solidarity
  • Sense of responsibility and commitment

→  The experiment makes clear the interdependence between elements in the natural ecosystem and supports participants in the learning process through real experiences. Each participant is part of the ecosystem and part of the collective mission, with a function and a role. Each part of the system relies on others and the team is strengthened when everybody’s action is aimed at the overall mission.

OBJECTIVES: 

  • Learn about how to design a garden considering the impact of different actors and trying to maximize the capacity of these actors to interoperate and support each other.
  • Make participants experience the relationships in the garden.

GROUP CHARACTERISTICS: 

There is no strict number of participants in this activity. Of course, the larger the group the more possibilities we will have to explore different elements and see them in action.
The materials needed for this activity are cheap and simple (see below).
You would need a surface where you can draw the different zones as different concentric circles that expand from zone 0 (the center) to zone 5 (the furthest from the center). For that, you can use a cartoon or a big piece of paper. You can also figure out other ways (e.g. circles on the grass, circles with different materials, etc.)
You can prepare some cards with elements that are typical of a permaculture garden; we’d suggest preparing some empty cards as well because participants could think about an element that didn’t come to your mind. It’s always better to let it open for further ideas.
Don’t forget to bring some pens and pencils for drawing lines, connections or new elements. Keep in mind that colorful cards and drawings make the activity always more attractive, increasing the opportunities to become active learners.
If you are in an open space, you could think about designing that specific space as a permaculture garden. Participants will then have the space to spread around and experience the space. Ideally, start the activity in the center.
1. Introduce the game and the concept of zoning in permaculture (see “Useful resources” for information)
2. You can choose between:
    1. leaving the cards covered on the table and asking participants to uncover one and place it in the “right” zone
    2. presenting the cards uncovered and asking participants to pick one and place it in the “right” zone
give participants the possibility to propose a new element if that’s not on the cards!
rounds: in order for everybody to be active and participate (even the shiest ones) go around in circles and let everybody speak when their turn comes.
3. Discussion: Why did you put it there? How does this element relate to other elements? You can draw lines to highlight these interconnections. 4. Consent: the entire group should reach consent about where the element would be located. If someone does not agree, he/she should object and the group should find a better solution
5. If you find yourself in a place that allows that, you can pretend that the area around you is the garden you have to design.
    1. Locate Zone 0 - all together, through consent
    2. Ask participants to pick an element and locate themselves in the spot where those elements could live at best. Remember participants to act as a team and consider the interconnection with other elements (the team is now an ecosystem and interconnections among elements are extremely important for a self-sustaining ecosystem).
    3. Ask participants to take a moment for themselves once they have found their location (meditate, sing, dance, do whatever they want!) and then come back to the center for follow-up and reflection.
  • How did you feel when you were in your zone?
  • How did you perceive the other elements?
  • What inspiration can we take for the organization of human societies?
  • How do interactions among social individuals reflect interactions among natural elements?
Try to find a barrier-free space to run the activity.
If people have disabilities or are for any reason not able to follow the game, try to put them together with another participant, who can help. Together it could be easier.
  • #freepermaculture This BSL tool was developed by the Feld Food Forest community for the design of the West Feld Garden (Tempelhofer Feld, Berlin), a permaculture community garden that sees the participation of more than 10 different organizations. The tool was therefore intended to be as participatory as possible, to ensure that everybody’s voice is heard and the participants are empowered to participate in the co-creation process.

Activity 8: IMPACT OF FOOD PRODUCTION IN CONVENTIONAL AGRICULTURE

This is an activity designed to reflect on the environmental impact of the food we eat. Each group receives cards with food that they have to sort according to their impact. They are then given access to scientific data so that they can compare them with their own predictions and share them with the rest of the groups.

See the teaser here >>

COMPETENCES:

Ecological competences:

  • Environmental liability. Awareness of the impact of everyday life decisions on our environment and on the lives of others.
  • Belonging. Generating a sense of belonging to a group that can have a greater impact than the individual.
  • Analyzing information. Interpreting scientific data and relating it to everyday life.
  • Applying information. Understand the environmental impact of different types and aspects of food production.

Social competences:

  • Active listening. Listening to other people’s opinions and ideas in order to build common knowledge.
  • Cooperation. Awareness of the power of cooperation to face major problems of humanity.

OBJECTIVES:

  • The trainee understands the impact of the food industry on global warming compared to other types of production in the world.
  • The trainee learns about different types of environmental impacts of intensive livestock farming and agriculture.
  • The trainee compares the impact of animal products versus plant products on global warming.
  • The trainee knows the impact of transport compared to the total impact of a food from  production to consumption.
  • The trainee understands the benefits of producing and consuming local products.
Activity to be done in groups of 2 to 4 trainees.
Print and cut the cards with the name of the products. Print a separate pack of cards for each group, as each group will do a different exercise. (Annex1)
Print the solutions for each exercise. (Annex2)
For the activity of representing the data, it will be necessary to have different materials such as beans, chickpeas, stones, wool, fabric scraps, coloured paper, wooden blocks, bottle caps...
1. Lead in: The price is right The participants get together in groups of two or three and have to estimate on a piece of paper or a blackboard some of the questions that the trainer will ask. Whoever comes closest to the exact amount will win 10 points. The questions the trainer will ask are:
  • What percentage of total greenhouse gas emissions are due to food production?
  • What percentage of a product's emissions derives from transport, i.e. the fact that it was produced thousands of kilometres away?
  • How many tonnes of CO2 equivalent are emitted to produce 1 kg of cheese?
  • What about cabbage?
  • And almonds?
  • And beef?
At the end, all the results are displayed on a panel or blackboard for further reflection.
2. Collaborative learning: Sort the line Each team receives cards with the names of several foods. They should place them in a line according to the environmental impact they estimate they have on global warming, from the food with the most impact to the food with the least impact. It is not necessary to have previous knowledge, the aim is to share the reflections, doubts, ideas and intuitions of all the members of the group in order to build common knowledge.
3. Compare and reflect: What the science says Each group is given a table with emission values for each food, taken from a scientific study. They are asked to use this information to rearrange the cards.
4. Sharing the results Each group briefly presents its results and reflections. A general analysis of all types of impact is made and the most important foods to avoid are concluded.
5. Optional: Represent data with recycled materials If there is enough time, this phase of the activity is the most creative and challenging. The groups are asked to represent in a visual way the numerical data they have been given. They can do this using all kinds of recyclable materials, e.g. they can use a pile of beans where each bean represents a tonne of CO2, or cut out a strip of paper where the length represents the amount of emissions... The more diverse materials they come up with, the more creative the participants will be. Each group then presents their creations and reflections to the rest of the class. Some questions for reflection:
  • Do your estimates resemble the results found by the scientific community?
  • What are the most surprising facts?
  • Which foods have the greatest environmental impact?
6. Reflection. Local production The trainee then asks whether, with the information analysed, it can be concluded that local production is more beneficial for the environment. After a short input, the participants are asked to give arguments for and against the consumption of local products taking into account the following aspects:
  • Agro-diversity
  • Production model
  • Conditions for farm workers
  • Nutritional quality of food
  • Food processing
 
  • What did today's activity consist of?
  • How did you feel when you were confronted with scientific information?
  • What information was the most surprising?
  • How can we apply what we have learned in our daily lives?
  •  J.Poore and T. Nemecek, Reducing food’s environmental impacts through producers and consumers. Science  01 Jun 2018: Vol. 360, Issue 6392, pp. 987-992 DOI: 10.1126/science.aaq0216 , link here, [seen on 04/04/2022]
 

Activity 9: HEALTHY FOOD PRESERVATION

Food preservation allows us to take advantage of nature’s abundance long after its growing season has ended, and enjoy it year round! By preserving food grown on your own site and supporting local farmers by buying seasonal products to preserve, we help to relocalize our diet and reduce our dependencies on factory Food. When we grow our own food or support local farmers, we vote on what we want more of in our lives with our money or with our time; supporting People Care, Earth Care and Fair Share in our local communities.

No matter if you start with a few jars of jam to enjoy or gift, or envision a stocked root cellar brimming with canned, dried, smoked and salted goods as well as vegetables, I wish you the best in your food preservation adventures and hope that these short overviews can serve as a starting point for a new or expanded journey into your permaculture diet!

See the teaser here >>

COMPETENCES:

Ecological competences:

  • Development of documentation skills
  • Demonstrating and understanding of the consequences of one's behaviour in relation to the environment and their health
  • Demonstrating an ecological way of thinking in making decisions
  • Understanding the importance of natural food preservation.
  • Knowledge about food preservation techniques and their advantages.

Social competences:

  • Ability to collaborate with other adults
  • Developing interpersonal relationships and strengthening the skills needed for teamwork.
  • Ability to appreciate diversity and multiculturalism
  • Stimulating creativity and developing a competitive and innovative spirit, as well as teamwork.

OBJECTIVES:

  • Training and cultivating adults' interest and responsibility for healthy food preservation
  • Empowering adults to engage in healthy food preservation.
  • Provide adults with knowledge about health ypreservation techniques.
  • Stimulating the critical and self-critical spirit regarding interpretation of food labels
Can be used with any group of adults. In the game chose the preservation method, you will split participants in groups of maximum 5.
Prepare cards with food examples (20) and cards with methods of preservation (photo and description of method on the back) – 1 set for every group.
1. Participants share labels of food and present the unhealthy ingredients. If we have different opinions, we debate to find the scientific truth.
2. We split the group in 4-5 smaller groups of maximum 5 participants. 
3. Every group will draw 5 food cards and will receive a set of preservation techniques.
4. They have to read about the preservation techniques and match the food with the appropriate techniques.
5. After the participants share their results and debate if there are differences. 
6. Every group will choose then a preservation technique and will design a short video add to present the technique and its advantages compared to mass production preservation techniques. The trainers helps them define the message.
7.They film and share the adds.
  • What did today's activity consist of?
  • What natural preservation method have you used before?
  • What natural spices/ herbs do you use to improve the taste, nutritional value and preservation time?
  • How can we apply what we have learned in our daily lives?
  • Permaculture design, link here, [seen on 04/07/2022]

Activity 10: WASTE MANAGEMENT

Europe still generates large amounts of waste: construction and demolition waste, food and gardening waste, mining waste, sludge, industrial waste, old cars, batteries, old TVs, plastic bags, paper, sanitary waste, old furniture, old clothes … and the list goes on.

There is still the unpleasant and harmful habit of people to throw waste on the ground or in the water. It is important to talk to adults in non-formal activities so that they know: to classify waste; to identify ways to stop this phenomenon based on their own knowledge; be aware that waste is harmful to the environment; to selectively collect waste; to notice the need for waste recycling.

See the teaser here >>

COMPETENCES:

Ecological competences:

  • Development of documentation and communication skills
  • Demonstrating an understanding of the consequences of one's behaviour in relation to the environment
  • Demonstrating an ecological way of thinking in making decisions
  • Understanding the importance of using waste as a raw material to obtain other goods.
  • Developing a proactive attitude towards identifying simple solutions for waste recycling at home.

Social competences:

  • Ability to collaborate with specialists in other fields.
  • Developing interpersonal relationships and strengthening the skills needed for teamwork.
  • Ability to appreciate diversity and multiculturalism
  • Stimulating creativity and developing a competitive and innovative spirit, as well as teamwork.

OBJECTIVES:

  • Training and cultivating adults' interest and responsibility for waste.
  • Promoting and stimulating healthy behaviours towards the elements of the environment.
  • Training and consolidation of selective waste collection and recycling skills.
  • Training and cultivating adults' interest and responsibility for waste.
  • Development of the skill of selective waste collection in the community.
  • Empowering adults to keep their community spaces clean, selectively collecting waste.
  • Stimulating the critical and self-critical spirit regarding the attitude towards waste collection and recycling.
  • Creating the necessary premises for adults to be able to consider waste a resource.
Activity to be done in groups of 4 to 6 trainees.
Prepare a box in which you put different cardboard and plastic packaging, papers, food scraps, plastic bags and bottles, metal objects, textiles, bottles.
Prepare gloves for trainees, scarves to blindfold them.
You need to give paper and pen to the groups of trainees you train.  
1. Ice-breaker: The price is right Divide the trainees into four groups. Ask each group to choose a representative.  Cover the eyes of the four representatives with scarves. Each one, in turn, will take out of the box, touching, the objects, which they will recognize. They will name the package, describe it, then take it out of the bag and show it to colleagues. The others from the group must write down the duration of their decomposition and the effects on the environment, as well as the methods of reduction and the ways of recycling them. Is this package nature friendly? Compare the results they found with those provided on the internet.
2. Group reflection: Highlighting the most common types of waste in the environment The most common wastes will be written on the board and on white sheets, in random order: papers, food scraps, plastic bags and bottles, metal objects, textiles, glass etc.  The trainer lists the waste that can be collected selectively: glass, paper, plastic and specifies the color of the container for selective storage. The trainees are divided into groups and are asked to sort the waste in 3 baskets ( paper/ glass/ plastic-metal – depending on the country, there might be more baskets necessary). They are also invited to write in teams messages to encourage recycling (messages for each type of waste: paper/ glass/ metal). They will do advertising about recycling.
3. Group research: What the science says The group discusses the negative effects of hard degradable waste on the health of the environment during the period until it is completely degraded.  Trainees list some of their ideas on stopping this phenomenon: selective waste collection for recycling, fines, more garbage cans, reducing the amount of waste through lower consumption, more posters with environmental urges, the power of personal example. The purpose of waste recycling is established together with the trainees:
  • protecting the environment.
  • protecting people's health.
  • reducing the costs of obtaining new products.
  • maintaining public cleanliness.
  • conservation of the natural resources from which the products are obtained.
4. Conclusion To reduce means to diminish, to decrease. When we talk about reducing our waste, it means producing less garbage. Purchasing products with less packaging helps us reduce the amount of waste we generate. We could turn organic materials into compost instead of throwing them in the trash. We should also rethink more carefully if we need everything we intend to buy.
We often use certain objects only once and then get rid of them. But if we intend to reuse them, it means that we have identified certain ideas and ways to reuse them. Older clothes, books, toys could be given to friends or second-hand shops. Some people can get work done this way, and others can benefit from goods they cannot afford to buy. Instead of throwing things away, we can find ways to have fun, be creative, generous, or use them again.
Recycling is only a small part of rethinking the way we use our natural resources. Almost half of the things we throw away could be recycled. Recycling involves transforming old objects into new ones. Materials such as paper, aluminum, glass, plastic, etc. can be transformed into new products. Some of them can be recycled in the same material (glass can only be turned into glass), while others can result in new products (PET plastic can be turned into mats or synthetic yarns!). Recycling consumes less energy or less natural resources to obtain the new product, pollutes less air or water than if we manufacture goods from scratch.
  • What did today's activity consist of?
  • How did you feel when you were confronted with scientific information?
  • What information was the most surprising?
  • How can we apply what we have learned in our daily lives?
If the group doesn’t have a lot of time available, only one of the steps of the tool can be performed.
  • Proiectul din grinjă pentru mediu. Șase lecții despre cum să îngrijești mediul înconjurător. Material educațional pentru clasele III - VII, link here, [seen on 04/07/2022]