Phase one - in the beginning
The Children in Permaculture journey began with the European Permaculture Teachers meetings in 2012. These brought together permaculture teachers from across Europe in various locations across Europe. During the meeting in October 2012 in Slovenia, Rakesh first met Gaye, who asked "What about the children?"
Gaye invited Rakesh to teach a series of forest gardening and permaculture courses in Finland. After that they created a plan - to invite people from outside of the adult permaculture teachers network who are as passionate as Gaye, about children’s education. Rakesh recognised that such a novel programme would need really inclusive governance with collaborative decision making, and so suggested sociocracy.
The duo shared a brief vision for the project with their networks and several people suggested Lusi Alderslowe. Before Rakesh had even found her contact details, Lusi had contacted Rakesh! The trio made a more detailed vision and a strategy for including more people around Europe in an Erasmus-funded project.
Through a recruitment process we attracted more people and organisations, and the online meeting (using Skype) was in October 2014, in which we organised the first face-to-face meeting in Rakesh’s house in London, in November 2014. We started with two days of sociocracy training and 2.5 days developing our vision and a plan using Dragon’s Dreaming and sociocracy.
Picture 1: From left Lenka from Czech republic, Valentina from Italy, Tomi from Slovenia and Lusi from Scotland. Initial meeting at Rakesh's house in Goodmayes
One participant, Lara from Slovenia, stated that after 2.5 days she had more clarity about this project than she had in a project she has been working on for 2.5 years! We knew we were onto a winning formula!!
We would like to give our thanks to those who attended these initial meetings: Ionut Badica, Eva Dumitrescu, Martina Petru, Valentina Cifarelli, Barbara Garofoli, Tomislav Gjerkes, Rakesh, Lusi Alderslowe, Gaye Amus, Teodora Rădulescu, Lenka Barčiová, and Simona Trcak.
Phase 2 - Erasmus+ funded project
Over the next few months we pulled together a 90 page Key Action 2 Erasmus+ funding application. It was a mammoth effort by teams sometimes working until 3.30am! We were delighted in summer 2015 when we received a letter from Erasmus+ telling us our application scored an excellent 87/100 including comments such as “The project design has been very well considered and has been clearly presented”, demonstrating how our permaculture design was appreciated by the assessors! So, we were awarded €249,424 for a 3 year project September 2015-2018.
7 organisations in 5 European countries were involved with some people from start to finish, whilst others were only able to join for a short part of the full project time:
- Permaculture Association (Britain): Andy Goldring, Helen White, Lusi Alderslowe, Gaye Amus, Nim Robins and Rakesh ‘Rootsman Rak’
- Cassiopeia (Czech Republic): Lenka, Tereza Velehradská, Adéla Hrubá and Lenka Babáčková.
- Paradiso Ritrovato (Italy): Valentina Cifarelli, Cecilia Furlan, Roberto Cardinale, and Francesca Simonetti.
- Društvo za Permakulturo Slovenije (Slovenia): Lara Kastelic, Tomi Gjerkeš, Urša Plešnar.
- Gatehouse School (UK): Lusi Alderslowe, John Riley.
- Asociatia România in Tranziție (Romania): Eva Dumitrescu, Ionut Badica, Teodora Radulescu, Crina Cranta.
- Asociatia Educatiei Neohumanisa (Romania) Didi Devapriya
During this Erasmus+ funded project we held innumerable teleconference meetings and occasional transnational face-to-face meetings including some adjacent to European and International permaculture events to enable us to attend both. Carolyn Nuttall and Janet Millington did a European tour leading two-day outdoor classrooms training courses in several countries, and a 6 day training course in Slovenia. We co-led a peer-to-peer training course in Gatehouse School, Scotland. Didi and Lusi organised a school trip to Romania from Scotland, which was incredible - you can see a video of the visit on our website, and 6 years later the children were still talking about it! The Czech team organised an international Children in Permaculture conference in Prague attended by 200 people!
We created so many fantastic resources which are freely available for everyone to use including a catalogue of resources, a report about the resources surveyed, 8 case studies, a short film, a curriculum, session plans, a manual and a training course guidebook.
Phase 3 - After Erasmus+
After the final report from Erasmus+ was completed (that was another marathon!), we still wanted to work engaging children in permaculture and supporting others to do so. We organised an international conference in July 2019, held in the inspiring Cecil Sharp House in London.
Some of the original CiP team have continued to deliver the CiP training courses - initially teaching the two day Introduction to Engaging Children in Permaculture Course in different locations and, once the pandemic hit Europe, we moved online. Online courses have been wonderful for this international project because we have been able to involve people from literally all over the world - from Afghanistan to Zambia, and from Iceland to Australia! We have also developed several new courses including the Permaculture Design Course (PDC) for Educators of Children, and the CiP Practitioners Course, which you can see on our website.
The Children in Permaculture team are now focussing more of their attention on other projects, although we continue to work on getting our materials translated into new languages and updating the resources:
- Lusi and Nim have set up a Community Interest Company which continues to deliver Children in Permaculture training courses.
- Gaye has written a new book and continues to lead Children in Permaculture Courses through Learning in Nature.
- Adela and Tereza have been busy writing a permaculture book for teachers connecting the Czech school curriculum and the tradition of Environmental Education in their country.
- Rakesh is running CiP an CiP related training courses, working with various primary and secondary schools, as well as home ed groups. He is also starting local CiP groups around the UK, managing the website