Between 28 February 2022 – 27 February 2025 Federatia YMCA Romania is implementing as partner the project called Active Collective – a Strategic Partnership project- Development of Innovation in Adult Education, the main beneficiary being Stichting Olde Vechte and co-funded by Erasmus Plus Program.
Active Collective is a project that focuses on developing a method of sustainable inclusion for unemployed adults through environmental activities.
The project involves seven different countries: Netherlands, Romania, Austria, Greece, France, Latvia, and the Czech Republic.
In order to reach the goals of this project, we are going to implement: three transnational meetings; four training activities designed for the staff members of our organizations (some of these staff members being low-skilled adults themselves); fourteen multiplier events; two intellectual outputs (one social garden in each participating country, and educational videos that record the process of creation while offering information on guidance and facilitation).
The first project result that we are planning to create is a social garden in each participating country. Our intention is to develop results that can be used by our target group after the project period as well, thus ensuring sustainability and a long-lasting impact.
The concept of social gardening is spreading rapidly. These shared plots of land provide the opportunity for people to join forces in order to grow fresh flowers and vegetables while transforming unsightly, unused spaces into green, productive lands. Furthermore, with adequate guidance and facilitation, we can turn these gardens into practical and effective learning tools, thus reaching marginalized target groups and creating tailor-made learning experiences for them. When it comes to educational environmental activities, these gardens are undoubtedly sustainable and beneficial on multiple levels: they offer space for individuals to develop their hard and soft skills (practical skills such as gardening, but also skills such as cooperation, management, organization, communication, learning to learn, sense of initiative, etc.), they encourage inclusion, active participation and the creation of experiences on a community level, they result in decreased borderline behaviors, they contribute to the wellbeing of our ecosystem, they provide fresh and healthy produces for the neighborhood, they promote physical wellbeing, and they bring opportunities for communication and co- creation between various target groups.
By creating such gardens in each partner country, we ensure the sustainability of our results:
– unemployed young adults and adults facing fewer opportunities will have the opportunity to join these common spaces, thus staying active and contributing to the wellbeing of their surroundings. These gardens will be used by different target groups after the project period as well, thus expanding the capacity of our partner organizations and creating results in multiple areas simultaneously. With optimal guidance and facilitation, these gardens will turn into learning opportunities and will promote our method of inclusion. Since these gardens follow their own cycles (planting, growing, harvesting, resting), we intend to align our activities to these phases and to create our project structure accordingly. The innovative character of this output lies in our cross-sectoral cooperation: we use gardening as a response to unemployment, we use environmental activities as a way to foster inclusion. By creating new, tailor-made educational tools we also contribute to our desired impact: offering alternative learning opportunities for marginalized target groups and improving the quality of adult education.
The 2nd project result– The second intellectual output that we are planning to create is a collection of high-quality educational videos.Through these videos, we aim to record the process of setting up our social gardens while offering guidance on how to use these along with other environmental tools for educational purposes; our intention is to design videos that serve as a guide for anyone working with groups, especially those who choose facilitation, guidance, and gardening as ways of supporting adults with fewer opportunities.
The unique nature of this output comes from the following: based on our previous experiences, audio-visual materials attract a wider audience compared to written materials; when it comes to guidance and facilitation in adult education, there is an unfulfilled need of having a method that leads to actual, long-lasting results – most people learn by experiencing various non-formal programs (mainly in the field of Erasmus+), but when it comes to practice, there is no guidance on how or what to do exactly, some ways of facilitation might work for certain groups, but these can't always ensure a successful outcome; while in one of our current KA2 projects (Connectivity) we work on developing our method of inclusion for marginalized adults, this time we intend to use this method in the context of environmental activities and to develop new work-forms and ways of facilitation or guidance in order to create an impact on multiple levels
Through this output, we would like to gather the common experience of our partners when it comes to facilitation (with special regard to the target group and the activities we are planning to implement – the combination of gardening and adult education is rarely used in our experience) and we would like to create short tutorial videos for other professionals (youth workers, adult educators, social workers, and facilitators). These videos will offer step-by-step guidance in two main directions: setting up a social garden and using this garden as an educational tool for people facing fewer opportunities.
We would like to do all this from the very basic steps (how to use the given resources – environment, permissions, possibilities; what types of social gardens can be created – what is the aim of a social garden and how can we create alternative versions based on our own possibilities; how to set up a social garden; how to maintain it) until a more advanced level (how to add educational value to these gardens or to similar environmental activities; how to guide the target group through an actual learning process; how to reflect on the outcomes; how to create sustainable learning cycles; how to implement our method of inclusion). We believe that by sharing our experience and creating playful, interactive educational materials on facilitation and gardening, we open up new possibilities in the field of informal education; professionals will receive tailor-made guidance in order to improve the quality of their work and to discover new opportunities that might come from this approach.
While the first intellectual output we intend to create is a network of social gardens that runs through our partner countries, with this second output we aim to create educational materials that support other professionals in creating similar opportunities on a transnational level.