‚Our Gardens Shall not be Divided‘ youth gathering took place for 10 days at the Kinderferien und Tagungshaus Wernsdorf in Brandenburg. Enthusiastic young people interested in learning more about sustainable practice, agriculture, forestry and environmental welfare came together to swop ideas, skills and contribute towards planning an innovative future. The time spent together generated eager exchange between participants on a multitude of topics, creating several efficient and energetic learning situations and preparing all involved for an active involvement in environmental change.
The area around Wernsdorf village lent itself perfectly to investigation of a variety of natural environments. Guided canoe and bicycle trips were organised to observe local waterways and flatland areas. Field trips by foot and by car facilitated exploration of the nearby woodland areas and regional agricultural projects using sustainable practices.
Youth were introduced to different practices and encouraged to critic and debate how industrial forestry, battery farming and large scale monoculture compared to responsible and environmentally sound agriculture. Pollution, fossil fuels, renewable energy, green-washing, veganism, recycling, de-growth, biodiversity, permaculture and the importance of regional food production were topics often discussed.
On location in KFTW practical workshops were offered where participants learned how to build infrastructures to begin a sustainable project (use of solar power, composting, recycling building materials, open-air cooking, foraging, environmentally friendly household products, beekeeping, keeping hens, organic herb and vegetable gardening). The daily tasks of running a guesthouse facility such as KFTW were introduced to participants.
Consensus decision making, group work, self organisation, and skill sharing were emphasised as essential to a non hierarchical organisation and the entire meeting was run using these tools. Inclusivity in workshops and presentations concerning language, gender, and knowledge hierarchies were facilitated and tools to overcome these barriers were shared with participants throughout the gathering.
One of the most enjoyable parts of the meeting was building networks between the partner groups. The participants from MOO, Gluiseacht, KFTW, PIM and Memfarado had plenty of time to get to know each other, swop contact details and plan collaboration between the groups in the future. The mutual benefit of such relationships were clear and participants were eager to get to know other young people with similar interests active in contexts different to theirs. Much time was spent exchanging stories about environmental campaigns, political and cultural situations in people’s home countries, and understanding the difference between rural life in the five partner countries.
Open days and publicity campaigns in the local area during the meeting has strengthened KFTW’s place within the local Brandenburg context. The open day welcomed local youth and active members of the community to meet the participants and the members of KFTW. The results of the meeting were shared and exciting links have been established with local school and youth groups!