Digging Deep: from seeding to harvest
Digging Deep, international project on urban gardens co-founded by the European Commission under the Youth in Action Programme – action 3.2, came to an end; now, after intense and profitable activities all along 2014, it’s time to reap the rewards. The four partners of the project (CESIE as coordinator – Italy; KID PINA – Slovenia; CANGO – China; IYEC – Ghana) met in Beijing (China) for the Kick-off meeting in January, where international and local activities were planned. Between February and March local working groups (LWG) were set up and made up of young volunteer agronomists, educators, illustrators, youth leaders and young unemployed and with fewer opportunities who became the pillars of the following international and local activities. In April, LWGs met for the first time in Palermo (Italy) for an international workshop on urban gardening. Then, after having gone back home and gathered ideas and new inputs, youths were directly involved in the project through several activities.
Preparing the land: urban gardens
On the basis that urban garden is means of social inclusion, each LWG developed its own urban garden depending on each local context. Along with project coordinators, youths had to face and creatively overcome some problems linked to the research of a land suitable for horticulture activities, involving their own local community. From April to October 2014, urban gardens were planned, developed and weekly taken after, letting young people learn and improve horticulture techniques and knowledge. Garden was interpreted as non-formal educational tool, as means to develop new culture’s techniques, and as means of self-production for one’s own local community.
Seeding: local workshops
Meantime, youths developed six local laboratories whose aim was that of involving different groups of people of the local community, promoting through urban gardens themes such as environmental sustainability, or 0 Km and healthy food.
- Italy → within several local events (such as, the Earth day), mainly children through ludic-didactic activities and local associations working in the social and primary field (among which, CODIFAS) were involved in.
- Slovenia → through the participation of agricultural experts, the issue of permaculture was largely discussed and gardens with pallets and “seed bombs” were created. For each activity a tutorial was made. They are all available online, for example, look a tutorial for making vertical gardens.
- Ghana → the workshops were mainly based on local schools. The activities (creation of raised gardens, seeding, land preparation, transplanting, plantation in recycled materials) aimed at rediscovering the originating and genuine connection between the human being and the earth.
- China → unlike the other countries, a more miscellaneous group of people was involved. The main subjects discussed were about hydroponic culture and vertical gardens, using pots, balconies and roofs and to solve the scarcity of land in the Chinese capital.
All these events ended between September and October 2014 with an local final event in China, Italy and Slovenia aimed at letting other people know about the project and the different local activities carried out.
The result: the Handbook
Beyond the acquired competences in the field of horticulture, a the better acknowledgement and understanding of the project’s issues and the online platform on the project’s website (www.diggingdeep.eu), another important outcome was represented by the Urban Gardening Handbook: issued by the creativity and the cleverness of four illustrators chosen within the four LWGs, this handbook (both paper and digital version) explains the different types of urban gardens and the different steps to create one and take care of it. Thanks to the simple language and the illustrations in it, the handbook is addressed to the widest possible audience (teachers, educators, students, children, young people, etc…) which wants to use the garden not only as means of self-production, but also as means of non-formal education.
The Harvest Festival: final meeting in Ghana
The handbook was presented during the Harvest Festival, held in Accra (Ghana) on the 22nd of October: open to the local community, the event was a moment for sharing activities, results of the project and also a moment for the active participation of the public. Indeed, here, LWGs’ members coming from the partner countries presented their traditions in terms of harvest and showed and let the public participate to four horticulture workshop. The event ended with the tasting of products coming from the four countries together with African music and dancing. The Festival was held within the last international workshop of the project between the 19th and the 24th of October in the Ghanaian capital. Here the participants had a general overview on how the project was developed in each single country, and evaluated it and thoughts at the possible developments.
We want to heartily thank all those who took part in the project activities, with enthusiasm, creativity and will to rediscover the genuine nature of the earth, making Digging Deep come true!