17 people from around Europe travelled over land, air and seas to a remote part of southwest Scotland to participate in a peer-to-peer
training course in engaging children in permaculture. The first of its kind, this course enabled educators to firstly familiarise with the local landscape, weather and culture, then to deepen their understanding of the Children in Permaculture (CiP) pedagogy and meet the children and teachers.
The whole school attended an assembly in which they learnt to say ‘hello’ in the mother-tongue of each of the educators. Throughout the week whenever children would see educators, whether in school or out, you could hear them shouting “Buna!”, or “Ahoj!”.
Educators spent three days leading sessions with children (in four groups concurrently, each with 4 educators and 12 children) in two local schools (Gatehouse-of-Fleet and Twynholm primary schools). Educators demonstrated their expertise in many different areas of permaculture including building a rainwater harvesting system on the polytunnel (Slovenian team); sowing heritage rye seeds and speaking with children in the Czech Republic doing the same activity (Czech team); designing a new permaculture
garden (UK team); building an outdoor play kitchen (Romanian team); making pizzas on a campfire (the Italian team!) and playing in the forest (and mud!).
Feedback was harvested from the children, from the other educators and school teacher (about the content and delivery), and finally from a team of our choice to consider our strong and weak points and paths for improvement. The depth of learning for educators was fantastic, and really bringing the children into the whole team for the first time in the project.
The learning was incredible for the whole school, during the community engagement open-mic event on the Friday evening, the headteacher said that he wants to integrate permaculture across the whole school. Since that week they have really kept to their word, with the permaculture ethics appearing in children’s report cards, and in the whole school end-of-term harvest assembly (attended by many parents and carers), really showcasing permaculture in mainstream education.