A foundation that supports cooperation and networking of organisers of school and kindergarten gardens in Hungary. As part of the network, school gardens will no longer be isolated. They will not lack information and the members will be represented by the Foundation for School Gardens.
Key words: school gardens, kindergarten gardens, education for sustainability, environmental awareness, organic farming
Name of the initiative Hungarian Foundation for School Gardens (Iskolakertekért Alapítvány)
Region Countrywide (including parts of neighbouring countries of the Carpathian Basin)
What kind of initiative Education/training, environmental
In the footsteps of their predecessors – educators and gardeners – the founders believe a school garden offers opportunities in the search for sustainable solutions, in educational work, and for public good. The initiative was started by private individuals out of professional vocation from Szent István University in 2014.
The issue of school gardens is a very complex topic, relating to pedagogy, agriculture, environmental education, environmental protection, food safety, health preservation, therapeutic options, etc. In order to create school gardens that best meet the needs of the present age the school garden movement needed to think together and develop a coordinated strategy. They connected experts of the different relevant fields at the first forum of The School Garden Professional Workshop in the autumn of 2014, where approximately 40 participants (teachers, civilians, municipal representatives, etc.) were able to share their experiences on school gardens and receive some initial impetus and encouragement to start one.
The Hungarian Foundation for School Gardens was registered in March 2015 and put together a charter, with the following goals:
- Make school gardens as widely available as possible and help them spread as a setting for sustainability and environmental awareness for children and, through them, for the widest possible sections of society.
- Encourage activity-based teaching of children in school gardens so that they can experience a sense of responsibility for their future through their work; experience our natural environment as the foundation of our lives; the need for and effectiveness of cooperation, feel the importance of intergenerational knowledge; the honour of labour.
- Present the garden as a medium of experience, relaxation, discovery, joy for children and adults alike, making children more open to nature, promoting gardening and methods and approaches of organic farming.
- Show teachers and children that, due to the complexity of activities in the garden, it is an excellent opportunity for the harmonious development of the personality.
- Represent the cause of school gardens in public and higher education, pedagogical profession, environmental and nature protection, rural development and agriculture, education for a healthy lifestyle and sustainability.
- Bring together and support school garden initiatives. Explore and bring together initiatives related to the issue of the school garden.
The Deputy State Secretary for Environmental Protection of the Ministry for Agriculture and the Hungarian Foundation for School Gardens signed an agreement in 2018 and launched the National School Garden Development Programme with a grant of 50 million Hungarian Forints (144 000 euros) from the Ministry of Agriculture. The National Chamber of Agriculture and the Diocesan Caritas of Vác city joined the programme the same year. The latter works in ten schools in Pest county. The Szent István University, Faculty of Landscape Design and Settlement Planning joined the activities too. They prepare school garden plans and participate in research programmes. Eco-schools are priority focus groups of the programme. The Bioculture Association (the largest Hungarian organisation of ecological farmers) joined the work as an expert partner for mentoring programmes. Since 2020 the Hungarian National Network for Rural Development and the Blue Planet Climate Protection Foundation supports the programme, too.
The Foundation for School Gardens organises a School Garden Network with two levels of accession: School Garden Preparatory Member for communities that want to create a school garden, and School Garden Network Member for communities that have already established their school garden and started their garden activities.
There are no financial obligations to join the School Garden Network. A member can be any community or institution that regularly cultivates a garden of at least 20 square metres with the involvement of children.
The Foundation organises campaigns, educational lectures, professional days, school observations and presentations.
We are currently establishing a professional group to organise and operate the school garden network. This network will map and share good practices, develop methodological aids, connect farmers with school gardens, organise training and provide mentoring for starting school gardens.
We have created a school garden website, operating it as an information and communication channel to develop and implement tenders, network with professionals and NGOs and find supporters. On the website are professional materials related to the operation of school gardens through its website and members can download publications free of charge. Members can also display their content on the homepage and Facebook site.
A newsletter with the latest information is sent quarterly.
The foundation offers free attendance at the annual National School Garden Network Meeting and free participation in regional professional workshops
Members can apply for any tender announced by the Foundation and plants, tools and services for school garden purposes received by the Foundation are provided free of charge and it mediates discounts offered by companies on the purchase of equipment.
Common advocacy is provided in finding solutions to problems of school gardens in appropriate forums.
“Initially, the enthusiasm of the founders moved the initiative, but over time, the results paid off and new resources were mobilised from professional, government partners.”
Expansion of the network required financial and human resources. This was gradually brought about. Initially, the enthusiasm of the founders moved the initiative, but over time, the results paid off and new resources were mobilised from professional, government partners. However, the organisation still relies on voluntary work.
It is very important to maintain intensive personal contact with school leaders, to gather materials and experiences, and this requires concerted action. Often you do not need material resources, but rather enthusiastic educators, of whom there are fortunately more and more.There are school gardens established without money, but we have never seen any without an enthusiastic educator. They are as fundamental for a school garden as sunshine.
“Often you do not need material resources, but rather enthusiastic educators, of whom there are fortunately more and more….They are as fundamental for a school garden as sunshine.”
In 2019, a national school garden development programme was launched, 50 school and kindergarten gardens were established and developed with the help of a tender from the Ministry of Agriculture. Its development also involves continuous mentoring, ad hoc trainings, open events, seed and equipment / machine procurement, as required
We now have a network of 200 members and for four years with school gardens from across borders involved and tenders have been launched to help school gardens with the help of corporate sponsors.
For knowledge sharing a school garden traveling rollup-exhibition shows the character and good practice examples of school gardens across Hungary, and annual awards are given to school garden.
Current partners of the Foundation are:
- Hungarian Society for Environmental Education (www.mkne.hu)
- Green Kindergarten and Eco-School Network (https://ofi.oh.gov.hu/okoiskola)
- Széchenyi Egyetem – University of Győr, Apáczai Csere János Faculty (https://ak.sze.hu/en_GB/home)
- Hungarian Bioculture Association (www.biokultura.org)
- KÉK Community Gardens (www.kozossegikertek.hu)
- IKON STUDIO Cultural History Film Channel (www.ikonstudio.hu)
- Diocesan Caritas of Vác (caritas.vaciegyhazmegye.hu/)
- Márványhegy Environmental and Engineering Expert Co. (www.marvanyhegy.hu)
- Anthropolis Association (www.anthropolis.hu)
- National Institute for Culture (nmi.hu)
- National Association of Gardeners and Friends of Gardens (kertszovetseg.net/)
- Federal Working Group of School Gardens, Germany (www.bag-schulgarten.de)
- Chaloupky NGO, Czech Republic
Our ambitions for the future are:
- Create and develop additional school-kindergarten gardens
- Build a national mentor network, create showrooms (gardens) at least one per county Involve actors of the Hungarian-inhabited areas of the surrounding countries in the network as well
- Continue networking with campaign tours in the Carpathian Basin
- Build closer cooperation with similar initiatives and organisations in other (mainly European) countries
- Hire employees to assist in doing the work
More information in English:
Repository compiled in August 2020 by: Dr. Andras Halbritter, Andrea Szabadkai & Péter Kajner
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