Samenprojekt – seed project


Development of training tools about seed propagation for groups without a common language.

“Using drawings, role playing and different materials to ensure learning is fun. The more practical and action-oriented you make it the easier it is to explain without a spoken common language. Similar methods can be used for other topics.”

Description of the activity

The Seed Project develops tools of teaching and training for community gardens that do not have a common language that is spoken by all gardeners. It was carried out from spring to autumn 2016. The key question was how to pass on knowledge without using too much spoken language. The activity was made up of three workshops, one day trip and a celebration of the project in the end. The participants were women who were members of the garden group. For the day trip they also brought their families.
“Using drawings, role playing and different materials to ensure learning is fun. The more practical and action-oriented you make it the easier it is to explain without a spoken common language.
Similar methods can be used for other topics.”
The aim of the project was to transmit knowledge about seeds and seed propagation, and to demonstrate, that people can learn together although they do not share a common language.


Carrying out the set of workshops needs expertise on seeds and seed propagation, a good relationship with the gardeners to make sure they are ready to participate, and most of all a toolbox full of methods on how to teach and learn with none or little common language. Before starting the project, the organisers invited a number of experts to collect and develop methods that could be used during the workshops. Drawing, mapping, role playing , sorting pictures and demonstrating practices where key methods used to learn.

The activity was carried out in cooperation with ARCHE NOAH, an organisation for the collection and conservation of a great diversity of vegetable and fruit varieties.

Steps for the implementation of the activity

Find experts: you might be an expert yourself. Otherwise you might need someone who brings in knowledge about the seeds and propagation with experience in teaching.

Collect methods and plan the activity: you might be inspired by the methods used but make sure they are adapted to your group. In the case of Macondo, experts on game pedagogics and intercultural learning were invited to devise approaches. A clear time table with all dates is very useful.

Presentation to the group: Use a drawn calendar with all dates and pictures of the single activities so the project can be presented to the group.

Planning and carrying out workshops:

- Workshop 1 starts with an introduction to the project, which explains what is going to be done. In this phase a translator was there to explain the key elements. The introduction to the topic contains questions about the participants experience with t seeds and vegetables, mapping where participants and vegetables come from. A memory of seeds and plants is used to find out what seeds of different vegetables look like.

To introduce seed propagation, pictures from two vegetable plants in all different stages of development were sorted from sprouting to harvesting seeds. During a walk in the garden two salads and two herbal plants were chosen and marked to be used for propagation. In the end each participant received a small booklet to document their learnings.

- The second workshop took place in the show garden of ARCHE NOAH. During a guided tour different symbols were used to present different ways of pollination. The main aim of this visit was to get an impression of the huge diversity of vegetable plants that can be grown. . Different kinds of tomatoes were harvested together. The guide showed how to take seeds. The participants also got a photo – documentation of the process. The participants could taste the varieties and choose their favourites. They took seeds themselves and cleaned them to take them home for drying. In the end the participants visited the seed bank.

- The third workshop was used to revise the knowledge gained so far by using the same pictures and symbols again. In a second step the participants could harvest their own seeds from salads and herbs. Different ways how seeds are transported were also demonstrated.

- The end of the projectwas a celebration in the garden. Pictures from the whole project were presented, food and seeds shared and as a final step a mandala of seeds was built by all the participants.

Materials and methods

A room for indoor learning is important as concentration is easier to maintain indoors and not all material can be used outside. The garden is also used as a workshop venue. For the day trips a means of transport is needed.

Materials and human resources:
Pictures, seeds, vegetables, maps, plants as seed bearers, booklets for documentation, paper and crayons to draw, tools and utensils to harvest and clean seeds. All workshops were carried out in a team of at least three facilitators.

The total workload was about 300 working hours containing planning and designing, preparation of single workshops and the day trip, implementation of workshops and day trip and sessions of reflection and evaluation.

In the case of Macondo the project was funded by the Environmental Education Forum. Total costs were 13.300€ of which 11.500€ were used for staff and 1.800€ for materials and transport.

Learning outcomes for the participants

The participants learned about the chosen topic. At the same time, they experienced that learning is not necessarily related to skills of the new language and that they can learn something new in a different way. However, the activity was not carried out without any spoken language and participants also learned some German along the way. Non-verbal communication is another important skill to learn.