Green World of the School Garden

You can have a rest in summer in different ways: in your grandmother's garden, on a river or lake bank, in health or thematic summer camps. This year, the children from 12 rural schools have been lucky to visit the amazing green world of the educational centre “Ecology and Health” under the NGO “Green Cross Belarus” (GCB). In the first ten days of August, an educational session “School Garden” was held.

The first thing that impressed the children upon arrival was the territory. It seemed that there was everything - a residential and administrative buildings, a recreation area with a beach and a lake, a playground, a climbing wall, a summer outdoor canteen, a pavilion with solar panels, a large training and demonstration area with many different plants, an experimental site with all kinds of exotic plants, a bio-vegetarium (a greenhouse for tropical plants), workshops, and, of course, a mini-farm where chickens, roosters, turkeys, quails, peacocks, geese, rabbits, sheep and goats live.

Ten days of the shift flew by completely unnoticed in a friendly family atmosphere filled with many trainings, communication and travelling. Each lesson was different from the other. The pupils learnt about the peculiarities of organic farming, tried to take interesting photos, write small notes, moulded out of clay (some did it for the first time), baked cookies and cheese pastries for evening meal, realized how important it was to be able to negotiate and establish public relations, made a real a trip around Minsk and a virtual tour around Iolcha (a village in Bragin district of Gomel oblast), made sketches for future coloring in their villages and even developed and conducted mini-excursions to some places in the centre (the bio-vegetaruim, the site with solar batteries, the experimental site). At the same time, the children did canoeing, swam, climbed the climbing wall, and learnt many dances from different eras and peoples. Each lesson left something inside making the participants listen to themselves, analyze what they like, and where they would like to move on.

The training with Dina Nikolaevna Ponyatovskaya bore fruit for the children who could understand themselves and their place in the world. The topic of the training was Time and its value. During the lesson, the children were drawing and making collages. Moreover, it was hardly important what the drawing would be: what was more significant was the content. The teenagers talked about the perception of time, their place in time and the ability to use it. They analyzed their day, figured out the things they had spent their time on, drew their own life lines and discussed them. The children tried to figure out how to better manage the time in order to keep up with everything: obligatory but not very interesting activities and optional but very interesting ones. There’s every opportunity that everyone, who had attended this training, thought about many things.

“It was interesting to act as an expert when we had an excursion,” said Natasha Stock, a participant of the summer camp from Bobovskaya school. “Although the group was quite mature, it turned out that the members did not know much about watermelon, melon, basil, artichoke and even cabbage. Therefore, it was interesting for everyone to learn something new about these plants.”

During the follow-up discussion with the trainer, the children noticed that each school had its own vegetable garden and there were interesting facts that could be told about each plant on it, which meant that you could make an interesting excursion around a usual school site.

Since one of the topics of the camp was running a rural business, classes with the sales coach Vitold Zenkovich were organized for the children. He invited the children to interview each other in order to make a mutual presentation later. He also showed some exercises on the ability to persuade others and held a game on how to be proactive. As a result, everyone realized that the ability to negotiate and be persuasive was a very important skill not only in sales but in life in general.

During the summer camp shift, the children not only learnt a lot of new facts but began thinking about the future: who they would want to be and the field they would like to follow. Moreover, many of them realized that it is not at all necessary to leave their native village in search of happiness; it is quite possible to find or start a business where they were born confirming by their own example the saying “East or West, home is best”.

During the evening discussion around the candle at the last night before leaving, the children said that this amazing camp, which was held within the framework of the EU4Youth project “ School Garden for the Development of Agricultural Entrepreneurship”, funded by the European Union and co-funded by Green Cross International, is a great place for self-development, making friends and finding future partners, and, if there is still such an opportunity, they would like to participate in the camp once again.

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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.