Making “Green Sector” fun through board games

A growing body of research proves that properly designed team-based board games not only inspire learning, but they also encourage communication, collaboration and risk taking. They empower players by helping them to build self-confidence. The different elements of the game are designed to support a wide range of partaker abilities, and to make them play different roles.

Last EUROPEA meeting in Normady showed us that this can be also applied in the “green sector”. There were two workshops where the creators of the board games explained us how they got the idea, how they developed it and how benefitial they are at classroom.

RURALIS is a role-playing game created by a French teacher for the learning of agroecology. Each player assumes a different role on the board, which is a real place in a French country side. The objective is to negotiate until reaching an agreement that will be beneficial for all of them. This means that students have to understand their role in the game, communicate with each other, and agree on benefits for the environment.

AGROCHALLENGE is a card game in which pupils can learn the different environmental escenarios and their possible solutions. Through the game, they will be aware of the current threats of our planet and how they could be prevented. A very motivated teacher, Danuta Rzewuski, developed it years ago. The game is in French but there is a draft English version. If you want to know more about this game, she is looking for some partners to develop it in different languages. Her email address is danuta.rzewuski@educagru.fr

In those workshops, teachers realized that they need to challenge the current bias in many educational settings against designing and using games. Games are useful, effective, and enjoyable for all ages. Board games provide many educational and teaching benefits and have proven their value when designed appropriately for learning.

Beware of Oysters!

Oyster fields forever!

Spring 2018 brought us, EUROPEAns to Blaniville-sur-Mer in Normandy, FR. Accommodated in the pleasant VTF Senequet Holiday Village, we were only a few 100 m away from the endless sandy shore and the capricious channel. We had sun, we had rain and we had strong winds. It was raining cats and dogs in one moment then in the next it was a glorious blue sky again! And all that 175 times in a single day!

Taking advantage of the afternoon low tide and relatively nice weather, our French colleagues took us to the nearby oyster farm. Getting there in itself was a true adventure as we were walking through the wet sand, trying to avoid getting soaked to skin and envying our well-prepared peers who carried their wellingtons all the way from home for this trip only.

“Oyster farming was already practised by the ancient Romans as early as the 1st century BC, and the French oyster industry has relied on aquacultured oysters since the late 18th century.” (Wikipedia). Today it is as popular as ever in Normandy but still this kind of production is very much a labour intensive and a time consuming enterprise.

We learned form our hosts, Michael Leguillois and Marie-Claude Gasterbois that the animals are sorted by their size in apertured plastic bags that are fasten to metal stands. The bags need to be moved and shaken regularly in order to separate the shells and give them enough space to grow properly. The content of the bags has to be revised and reorganized from time to time as the oysters become bigger. The process takes 3-4 years!

Coming back from the vast oyster fields we paid a visit to one of the oyster conditioning company in Blanville where we were hosted by Mr. Lafoss, the producer. He explained the final phase of the production and showed us through the pools where oysters are kept in controlled conditions. This last period will assure a softer and not so harsh salty taste. Also, a certain amount of shells would be regularly taken to the estuary some km westwards for some extra months of dwelling in brackish water for a different kind of special taste.

Come evening it was time for oyster tasting that again proved to be yet another curious adventure for some of the EUROPEAns 🙂

Many thanks to our hosts for the wonderful time and – for many of us – a once-in-a-lifetime experience 🙂

 

 

 

Pics: Judit (HU) and Kalle (EE)

For more photos visit the EUROPEA Facebook page.

 

By Judit Čović (HU), leader of EUROPEA Editorial Group

Lycée Nature, Countances

2-7 April 2018, EUROPEA Seminar in France/UK

The main topic of our spring seminar this year was agroecology. And where else can you learn more on that topic then out on farms and fields? In the upcoming days your editors will try to sum up all that we saw and learnt from our French and British hosts. Many thanks to all the schools, farmers and entrepreneurs who were so kind and received us, EUROPEAns ! (Judit, HU)

 

La Quibouquiére College Farm Agricultural College Coutances

During our visit at the Agricultural College in Coutances some students showed us the organic farm of the college where all agricultural students have to do a lot of practical work during their studies. The farm has 64 dairy cows from two breeds, Holstein and Normand, a local breed well adapted to the region.

They produce 375,597 litres of organic milk every year. The fodder, grass based rations, alfalfa, peas, cereals (triticale) and hay, is mainly produced on the 72 ha which belong to the farm. During the growing season the cows are out on the pasture all day. The golden rule of the farm is: “We know each cow and we observe them individually.” (Gerd, DE)

 

Greenhouses and nurseries

The greenhouses are essential in the learning of horticultural techniques: potting, propagation, pruning, watering etc.

Hands-on training is the best way to learn!

In greenhouses and nurseries, students take part in each step of the trade, from growing to selling.

Teachers come to the greenhouses with their classes for plant identification courses or to carry out various practical activities. Students take a turn to come and work in the greenhouses several days per semester. (Katrin, EE)

 

Jardins en liberté – Landscape gardens

The Gardens of Freedom is a wonderfully arranged training facility including several separate areas with different styles of landscaping. Take a walk through the paths and green labyrinths, and you will be surprised by ever the changing scenery of Japanese, French, English, Hungarian or Chinese gardens.

Every September the Agricultural School Lycée Nature hosts the Festival of Dahlias, which is a very well-known and loved event of the region. Hundreds of thousands of colourful dahlia flowers brought up by students would burst into blossom and attract a great number of curious visitors, who have the chance to vote for their favourite dahlias. (Judit, HU)

 

By members of the EUROPEA Editorial Group

For more pics visit our Facebook site 🙂

EUROPEA – strong and sharp

From 2-7 April 2018 the EUROPEA Spring Seminar was held in Normandy and curiously enough, it was organised by two of our member states: France and United Kingdom! With approximately 100 participants from 21 countries it was yet another great meeting with lots of information and nice experiences to take home, this time in the topic of Agroecology.

However, spring seminars would bring us not only the joy of getting together but also the challenging work that would make our association functioning smoothly and professionally. Therefore, we gathered again for the National Coordinators Meeting and the General Assembly, both held on Friday, 6 April 2018 – the last day of the seminar.

The Agenda included the compulsory reports from the Executive Committee and the Editorial Group, and also, the presentation on the financial status and the budget of EUROPEA. Furthermore, a preview for the autumn seminar in Austria was given with a truly packed programme embracing several events and venues. Following the presidency of the EU, hosts of the EUROPEA seminars were appointed for 2019. According to that, next year we will meet in Romania and Finland.

Concerning the Strategic Plan of EUROPEA, the GA decided to focus on the activities that would strengthen and deepen our network and sharpen our profile to raise awareness of our organization and make us more visible. In order to achieve these aims, it is vital for us to stimulate training and exchange of students, teachers and staff, to facilitate intercultural exchanges and to encourage student competitions.

Following the last idea, the highlights of the meeting for all of us teachers and Green VET lovers was certainly the presentation of our Portuguese colleagues about the 3rd AGROLYMPICS, which is scheduled for this September. We are all delighted that our students will come together and compete again in sunny Porto with the assistance and sponsorship of AGROS, a milk producing company that has already helped the organisation of AGROLYMPICS-Portugal twice.

In 2019 we will also celebrate the 20th anniversary of the EUROPEA Charter of Agricultural Education and Training. The Charter describes the principles of our vocational training, the functions and characteristics of the green training institutions. After 20 years it is necessary to analyse new challenges and review the Charter in order to be able to sign a revised Charter in 2019.

 

More info, all reports, documents and presentations are available on TeamEngine.

Acknowledgements: many thanks to Tone (NO) and Elisabeth (AT), picture from Pedro (PT) 😊

 

Judit Čović (HU), leader of EUROPEA Editorial Group

Agroecology but… what does it mean?

Agroecology was the main topic of the last EUROPEA meeting in Normandy. There, we could realize how difficult it was to define it specifically. In fact, experts have different points of view about it depending on which area they focus on (agriculture, forestry, environmental resources, etc.).

The information showed from specialist speakers in the congress brought light to us. First, agroecology is mostly a process, so it is constantly changing. In other words, we should talk of “agroecological transition” therefore it can be learned (nice for teachers!!).

Due to the the variety of issues that take part in the agroecology, they pointed out that the process shall be implement through transfer of knowledge. Some of these issues are political projects, scientific development, social movement and tools among others. There are several European projects in order to get the process faster such as the program “Teach to produce otherwise”, Social network eapnormadie.fr, some Erasmus + KA2…

At the end, agroecology teaches us that, in the “Green sector”, several solutions can be taken to resolve the same problem. Then, the habits of farmers can change, because “the only thing than is permanent is change” (Heraclito).