"We want to show BUGA visitors the potential of this subject. Many of them may still know it from GDR times and associate it with polytechnic education and preparation for socialist agriculture. Today, however, school gardening is an environmental education subject that aims at experiencing nature and the joy of gardening," explains Katy Wenzel, one of the people responsible from the university's department.
On large raised beds, she and her colleagues will present the three main learning areas of the subject:
- Growing, tending, harvesting and utilising cultivated plants (planting a mixed crop, recipes, exhibition of gardening tools and cultivation techniques, tea herbs for children to smell and taste).
- Designing with natural materials (interactive land art project, aesthetic bed design as well as a small changing exhibition of seasonal design work such as Easter hay-binding figures or summer flower arrangements)
- Experiencing and protecting nature (wildflower meadow with various self-built shelters for beneficial insects)
The organisers also hope that this appearance at the BUGA will give new impetus to the subject of school gardening: "We want to make the potential of the subject and the school garden as a place of learning clear and get as broad a section of the population as possible excited about it," says Katy Wenzel. "The school garden as a place of learning exists in kindergartens and schools all over Germany, but the compulsory subject is only taught in Thuringia. But fortunately it will remain so here: the subject is still preserved in the new study regulations, so that school garden teachers for primary schools will continue to be fully trained at the University of Erfurt in the future. It's great that at least one lesson per week is and will remain reserved for Thuringian primary school children to garden and discover nature together."
Those responsible at the university are convinced that the subject is more important than ever for primary school children today - especially with regard to (child-oriented) education for sustainable development. Especially in the school garden, ecological, economic and socio-cultural aspects can be made very tangible. "The subject counters the nature deficit of today's (urban) children," says Katy Wenzel. "Gardening is a special way of experiencing nature, where you can reflect very well on human intervention in nature and learn a lot about natural processes. You also learn how much work goes into our food and that the grass doesn't grow faster even if you pull on it. In addition, gardening in primary school is always a community experience and thus strengthens the children's social skills. We also experience that many simply enjoy growing their own food. It strengthens the feeling of self-efficacy and also food autonomy immensely. Last but not least, gardening is a form of creative activity in harmony with nature, which is very meaningful and gives joy of life and health".