On a very wet and cold Friday afternoon we held the first Green Technicians training session at Glasgow university. This was our first chance to meet as a group, introduce ourselves to the Technicians and outline the background of the overall project.
The first half of the session was organised as a presentation. Ian explained how the Technicians involvement links into the International Green Academy and spoke of our partners in Arizona, and then Cheryl outlined the project so far and what the Technicians will be getting up to over the next few months.
During a break for lunch, Catherine piloted the questionnaire that will be given out this week to the school pupils doing the gardening elective at Boclair. The students were very responsive and open to chat about the issues raised in the questionnaire, as well as potential ways the questionnaire itself could be improved.
The second half of the session gave the students more of a chance to discuss their ideas and knowledge around school gardens. The group split in two to discuss these questions:
- What is a garden?
- What can a garden do?
All the participants got involved straight away and contributed really brilliant thoughts and ideas. Encouragingly, they had a lot of suggestions for ways that school gardens can help young people to think practically about how they can be more ecologically responsible.
In both groups, participants discussed the benefit of gardens as non-hierarchical spaces and how this can allow for more dynamic and egalitarian forms of learning and exchange.
The students also seemed to feel very positively about how the school garden can connect to its wider community through the accessibility of cheap, healthy food. The capacity to grow vegetables was discussed in relation to its ability to tackle health and social inequalities. Good quality, healthy food was seen as unaffordable, and the group discussed the knock-on effects of this relating to mental and physical health. Therefore, gardens were discussed as radical sites of transformation as they give communities the opportunity to become self-sufficient rather than reliant on a hostile economic system.
The fact that everybody needs to eat was framed as a positive way to rally people round a cause, rather than a problem to be solved. It was suggested that by giving kids the skills to grow food, they could go and empower their local communities by passing on this knowledge. All of this made us so excited to see out the rest of the project with such an enthusiastic and compassionate group of young people.