International Seminar “School Garden” as an educational platform for modern safe agricultural technologies”


Representatives of schools and environmental centers of Belarus, Ukraine and Moldova took part in the international seminar “School Garden” as an educational platform for modern safe agricultural technologies”, which was held on June 24-29, 2019 in the educational center of Green Cross Belarus. For five busy days, they learned about modern, safe methods of plant growing, were acquainted with the experience of cooperation of small agricultural producers and joint promotion of products, visited school gardens in Belarus.

On the first day, the seminar participants got acquainted with each other. Project manager Vladimir Shevtsov again recalled the main ideas, goals and objectives of the project, and spoke about the results of the first year. Thematic coordinator Vladimir Pustoshilo offered to discuss the very concept of “school garden”, its tasks, functions and possible directions of development, as well as the logo of a potential brand. Participants also had the opportunity to present their educational institution or center, share current successes and plans for the future.

The next day was devoted to organic farming. The chief of the scientific laboratory of the educational institution “Republican Center for Ecology and Local History” Ivan Russkikh spoke about safe housekeeping, genetically modified products, their production and effects on human health, and shared the experience of conducting research with students in the laboratory of the center. Victor Knyazev, a representative of AgroBio LLC, shared his experience and peculiarities of biohumus production technology.

On the third day, the participants tried to combine theory and practice under the guidance of Italian experts. In the first, theoretical, part of the program, Fabio Ammar spoke about the different levels of product quality, and Raffael Quadri traced the stages of its marketing promotion, focusing on the importance of advertising. He also noted that building a marketing strategy directly depends on the needs of consumers and the situation on the market. Tracing along with Raffael the evolution of advertising, the participants learned that initially it was aimed at representing the functions of a product, after advertising became customer-oriented, the next stage of its development was the presentation of products as a brand - carrier of values. Lorenzo Rosi told about the peculiarities of building a business strategy, shared his experience in developing a logo in Palestine and Lebanon, creating a cooperative and suggested some business ideas for Belarus, in particular, about opening an ice-cream cafe network with production on site.

In the practical block, the participants broke up into five groups and for half an hour thought through the rough concepts of local cooperatives, the purpose of which would be to unite the maximum number of schools in the production and promotion of products.

The fourth day was perhaps the longest, as the participants went on a trip to Vitebsk region to get acquainted with the school gardens of two schools that participate in the project. The first point of the visit was a school in the village of Parafianovo, Dokshytsky district. Its director, Viktor Korostyk, very warmly received guests - he showed a school and a school plot, where various vegetables grow, aimed at improving school meals, and two onion plantations grown, including for sale. At the expense of the proceeds, the school has the opportunity to repair and equip classes without asking for help from the board of trustees and the parent committee. Children actively participate in work at the school grounds. Moreover, the project opened new horizons in this work: if earlier the pupils just helped the teachers, now they are studying the business process in agriculture - from calculating costs to making a profit, master the methods and technologies of organic farming, the basics of landscape design.

The second place, where the representatives of Belarus, Ukraine, Moldova and Italy visited, was a school in Luzhki, Sharkovshchina district. This time, one of the participants in the seminar, Larisa Garanina, who is also the director of the school, conducted the tour round the school ground. In each department of the Luzhki school garden, the schoolchildren greeted the guests in the form of those berries, vegetables or plants that grew there, read thematic poems and presented the guests with the appropriate gifts. As a result, our team received cucumbers and tomatoes, a herbal collection and currant jam, apples and raspberry pie, dried fish from the school pond. The most memorable was a master class on cutting Thuja, which was held by schoolchildren, and a walk round the Arboretum. As the pupils said, they are very interested in working in the school garden, where they get new knowledge, they begin to understand the processes that occur in nature, they think about the possibility of trying to start their own business in their own village in the future.

An important uniting moment was the planting of the tree of friendship”. The school director, Larisa Garanina, proposed the idea to plant the tree and the participants supported it with great enthusiasm. Now in Luzhki Arboretum, the maple is taking root, carefully planted by the representatives of Belarus, Ukraine, Moldova and Italy. The "tree of friendship” has become a symbol of the growth of the network of school gardens in these four countries.

The last two days have been full of travel and discussion. Friday began with information technology. The web project manager, Lyudmila Skakun, proposed to consider Internet resources that can help in searching specialized information on agriculture, getting practical advice and promoting their own products. The participants also continued to get acquainted with the experiment Water-melon Growth Testing." The experiment team Natalya Svyatkina, Olga Shpiganovich and Pyotr Kubarev told about the main positions on which the observations are made, the participants and their current results, as well as about the upcoming holidays “Day of the watermelon and his friends”. Workshop participants will actively use all that they have learned.

A tour of Minsk, a walk round the Central Botanical Garden of the National Academy of Sciences of Belarus greatly impressed the participants.

Saturday started with the visit of the manor house «Bivak», where the participants talked about agritourism and its prospects.

In conclusion, teachers from four countries thanked the organizers for the opportunity to take part in the seminar and in the project in general, and exchanged views and plans for the future. The representative of Velikodoletskaya secondary school, Viktor Shishov, said: “It is not the first time that I come to the green cross, but I always get new knowledge. My immediate plans are to put up a “School Garden” sign, and label each tree, each row”. In conclusion, he summoned up the participants: “Let's do it! Time to start doing! ”

The representative of Ukraine Alexey Lavrenchuk thanked everyone for the company, the knowledge and impressions gained and said: “Whatever the plans, you need to focus on the children - everything comes from them!”

The representative of Moldova Aurel Serdesniuc immediately announced his decision to take part in fairs and offer his organic products using marketing techniques - packaging, stickers, etc., and concluded: “The exchange continues!”

This week, 40 participants of the seminar became a real team, and they left with a special sense of unity and involvement in a common big deal.

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This publication has been produced with the support of the European Union and the Green Cross International. Responsibility for the content of this publication lies with the public organization “Green Cross Belarus”, and it can in no way be taken to reflect the views of the European Union and Green Cross International.