Growing Green Communities

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Embracing the Growing Green Communities Spirit at the Folkemødet Festival

On June 13-15, we had the amazing opportunity to participate in the Folkemødet festival, a vibrant celebration of sustainability, innovation, and community in the heart of Bornholm, a Danish island. The Growing Green Communities project was represented by a very diverse group of people, including: Bent Egberg Mikkelsen, University of Copenhagen (Denmark) Lorena Torres, Crossing Borders, Advisory Board member (Ecuador/Denmark) Pearl Utuk, Teach the Child, Crossing Borders’ partner (Nigeria) Oussama Elsayed, ESC Volunteer at Crossing Borders (Palestine-Lebanon) Preparing for the Panel Discussion The panel, titled “Youth-Based Solutions for Future Food Systems – Insights from Growing Green Communities and SESAM School Projects,” addressed the urgent need for food systems transformation. Food systems are responsible for approximately one-third of human-made climate impacts and play a significant role in nearly half of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The design of future food systems will profoundly impact achieving the 2030 and 2050 goals. This is where the voices of young people become crucial. During this panel, we explored how food systems literacy can be integrated into SDG education. We also heard insights from Nigeria regarding localizing SDGs. We discussed how young people can benefit not only in terms of their education but also by contributing to the development of new solutions for transforming food systems. Our focus was on the transition to plant-based diets and the reduction of red meat consumption. We drew on insights from the Growing Green Communities project, which has been implemented in schools across six European countries, and the SESAM project, which is currently running in six Danish schools. The Panel Experience On the day of the panel, the energy was palpable. The festival grounds were buzzing with excitement, and the session was packed with attendees eager to learn and engage. The discussion was dynamic, with each panelist bringing a unique perspective to the table. The panel was moderated by Lorena Torres, and the panelists were: Bent Egberg Mikkelsen, professor at the University of Copenhagen, SESAM coordinator, and Growing Green Communities project partner Niklas Winsten, teacher and FoodLab coordinator at Kokkedal School Pearl Utuk, Crossing Borders and Teach the Child, Nigeria Olivia Jensen, pupil, Kokkedal SESAM team & FoodLab We talked about the importance of community involvement in sustainability projects and highlighted how simple actions, like urban gardening and waste reduction initiatives, could foster a sense of ownership and responsibility towards our environment. The audience’s enthusiasm and thoughtful questions made the experience enriching and validated the significance of sharing practical solutions and success stories. Hosting the Workshop Before the panel, a workshop was conducted on “Plant-based Food Consumption.” On Thursday, June 13, a full-day workshop was held at the school, bringing together participants from two different schools. The focus of the workshop was to explore how a transition to a plant-based diet can be effectively implemented in educational settings and to develop appropriate educational materials to support this change. As part of the program, participants visited the Folkemødet festival to gather advice and insights from attendees. Key Takeaways The festival experience was a reminder of the power of community and collaboration in driving sustainable change. Here are a few key takeaways from our time at the Folkemødet Festival: Community Engagement is Crucial: Sustainable initiatives thrive when communities are actively involved. The panel and workshop highlighted the importance of fostering a sense of community ownership in sustainability projects. Knowledge Sharing is Empowering: Sharing knowledge and experiences not only educates others but also inspires action. The festival provided a platform for exchanging ideas and learning from one another. Small Actions Lead to Big Changes: The workshop participants’ enthusiasm for urban gardening showed that small, individual actions could collectively contribute to a significant environmental impact. Stay Curious and Open-Minded: Festivals like these are melting pots of ideas and innovations. Staying curious and open-minded allows for growth and the discovery of new ways to approach sustainability challenges. Moving Forward Participating in the Folkemødet festival was an inspiring and invigorating experience. We are excited to take the insights and connections gained from the festival and continue working towards a more sustainable future. We encourage everyone to seek out opportunities to engage in their communities, share their knowledge, and participate in events that promote positive change. Together, we can create a brighter and more sustainable tomorrow. Stay tuned for more updates and insights on sustainable living and community initiatives.

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Final Transnational Partners Meeting in Copenhagen

The final transnational partners meeting for the Growing Green Communities project was hosted by Crossing Borders on June 13th in Copenhagen, Denmark. This significant gathering brought together project partners from Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, and Switzerland, both physically and virtually, to finalize the project’s outcomes, discuss the impact of the project, and brainstorm the sustainability of the project after Erasmus+ grants came to an end. Throughout the meeting, we primarily focused on the following objectives: Meeting Objectives: Finalization of Project Results: We focused on concluding all aspects of the project and ensuring that all deliverables were completed satisfactorily. Preparation for Project Conclusion: Detailed discussions were held regarding the final reporting procedures and preparations required for the project’s conclusion. Sustainability Opportunities and Impact Expansion: We explored potential sustainability routes and strategies to widen the project’s impact beyond its initial scope. Promotion of Project Results: Strategies for disseminating the project’s results were discussed, including utilizing partners’ websites, creating online flyers, posting on each organization’s social media channels, and other communication platforms. Evaluation and Improvement of the Project Website: We evaluated the project website’s effectiveness and deliberated on enhancements to attract more interest from our target audience, particularly those interested in sustainability, climate change action, and community building around urban gardens. We extend our sincere thanks to all project partners who participated in the meeting and contributed their efforts towards the success of the Growing Green Communities project.

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Discovering Wild Edibles at Frantsila Herb Farm

Our team of 12 students had the opportunity to visit the Frantsila Herb Farm in Hämeenkyrö as part of the Erasmus+ project Growing Green Communities. At the farm, we attended a lecture about wild herbs, learning about their nutritional and health qualities, as well as how to use, cook and conserve them. We were served a salty pie and salad made with wild edibles. The salad was accompanied by a Wild Herb Powder, a blend of different dried wild herbs. For dessert, we had a berry pie with vanilla sauce and coffee. After the meal, we took a tour of the garden. Some herbs, like thyme and mint, had already started growing, and we saw some flowers in bloom.The weather favored us with sunshine.Some students skipped stones into the river, while others found a playground spinner, enjoying a moment of fun and relaxation. Recipe for Wild Herb Powder Drying the following herbs allows you to create Wild Herb Powder, a versatile seasoning to enhance dishes, especially useful during winter when fresh produce is scarce: Nettle, cow parsley, plantain, dandelion, currant leaves, kale, chicory, fenugreek, young ground elder leaves, marigold, wheatgrass. Consider possible allergies when selecting herbs suitable for green powder. Source: GGC Discovering Wild Edibles at Frantsila Herb Farm (

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Growing Green Communities: Sew, pick & taste!

I am participating in the Erasmus+ Growing Green Communities -project, which is about identifying wild herbs, gardening and learning about a more sustainable lifestyle. Therefore on a warm and sunny Saturday me and 8 other students went to our teacher’s cottage in Suinula to do some gardening. When we arrived in Suinula we separated into three groups. One group would take care of the cooking, one would collect the needed wild herbs and the last one would make the garden bed and plant new seeds. For the first half of the day I was part of the herbs collecting group. I learned to identify some edible herbs that are very common and easy to find. We gathered wild herbs, things like strawberry leaves, rasberrry leaves, birch leaves, wood sorrel and goatweed. We also discussed the different ways wild herbs can be used in foods, drinks and spices.  In the afternoon we took a break to eat the food a few students had made with the help of our home economics teacher. We ate almost completely vegetarian lasagna with goatweed inside. We ate salad with birch leaves, strawberry leaves and other plants, and to drink we had lemonade with herbs. All in all a very healthy and delicious meal! After lunch we continued working, though this time more tired than before. A few others and I made the dessert, which was ice cream! We helped the others, talked a lot and finally took another break to eat. For dinner we had homemade bread and pesto, and nettle soup made with freshly picked nettles, of course. And for dessert we had the ice cream, which was almost solid. I really enjoyed our trip to Suinula! I learned a lot about wild herbs and I discovered how easy it actually is to use them. There are so many different ways of taking advantage of common herbs that are easy to find and cost nothing. Now I can also safely say I can identify a few wild herbs 🙂 -Hannah Never have I ever started a garden from scratch. Yet this was exactly what I got up to on a sunny Saturday. We visites Sofia’s summerhouse and spent a wonderful day learning about gardening and wild plants. We had Jyrki Santala with us, who taught us about gardening and plants. We will get to enjoy our planted food in the Fall but with the wild plants had then and there we made some delicious food. We made lasagna with added wild plants, herbal ice tea and nettlesoup among other things.  I realized that wild plants are really versatile and useful. There really is so much “free food” available if you just take the time to get to know your surroundings. Wild plants can make your diet more versatile and add alot of important nutrients. In the evening we enjoyed some fresh baked rye bread, ice cream and rhubarb compote. The whole day it was incredibly hot and sunny so the ice cream really hit the spot even though it hardly set because of the heat.  Huge thanks to our guests Jyrki, Sorina and Anniina that helped us with the gathering and gardening, to Elina for planing such a good menu and especially to Sofia for allowing us to visit her summerhouse. -Kaari Source: Growing Green Communities: Sew, pick & taste! (

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2024 Crossing Borders Assembly: Spotlight on Sustainability

On May 16, 2024, Crossing Borders held its annual assembly, gathering a diverse group of attendees including organization members, board members, team members, external participants, and online attendees. This event served as a comprehensive overview of Crossing Borders’ key focus areas and ongoing projects, providing valuable insights and updates to all participants. One of the highlighted projects during the assembly was the Growing Green Communities project. This project, which aims to foster sustainable and eco-friendly food consumption, youth empowerment, urban gardening, and the EU’s green transition, was thoroughly presented by Furkan Akay, the EU Program Coordinator at Crossing Borders and the project manager for Growing Green Communities. Akay provided an in-depth overview of the project’s primary objectives, significant outcomes, and notable achievements from previous years. His presentation offered a clear understanding of the project’s purpose, emphasizing its impact and future goals. Throughout the presentation, attendees had the opportunity to engage with the content, reflect on the project’s purpose, and discuss its broader importance afterwards. This annual assembly not only highlighted the importance of Growing Green Communities but also reinforced Crossing Borders’ commitment to promoting sustainable development and environmental stewardship through its various projects.

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Growing Green Communities Training in Finland

From October 10 to 12, we, the Growing Green Communities Project partners, implemented another training course with nearly 60 students from Germany and Finland. Having the training hosted by Kalevan Lukio, we had various workshops conducted with the participants. During the training, our diverse workshops sparked meaningful conversations and shared insights, which you can find below: Throughout the training, an array of workshops unfolded, each illuminating various aspects of sustainable living and community empowerment: “Food Scaping” by the University of Copenhagen: This workshop was a lens into perceiving the food that surrounds us. It explored innovative methods of cultivating food within urban landscapes, redefining how we view and utilize our immediate environment. “Co-design Communities” by CRN: Delving into the intricacies of creating local communities, this workshop encouraged collaborative efforts in redesigning and reimagining community spaces for inclusivity and sustainable growth. “Finnish Forest Exploration with a Local Mushroom Guru”: Participants embarked on a captivating walk through the Finnish forest, guided by a local expert. The aim was to recognize and appreciate the edible treasures nestled within the natural surroundings. “Health, Education, and Human Behavior” by USI: USI provided insights into the interconnectedness of health, education, and human behavior, emphasizing the need for holistic approaches to community development. “Understanding Human Behavior for Sustainable Change” by USI: This workshop highlighted the crucial role of social marketing in influencing behavior for the greater social good. By understanding people’s values and motivations, in addition to exploring strategies for supporting behavioral change. On the second day of training, we had a fun “Science Slam” competition between the project partners. Suzanne Suggs from USI won the competition, being chosen by majority who attended this session. Following the end of the training session, a partner meeting was conducted between project partners to discuss the further steps of the project. We extend our heartfelt gratitude to Kalevan Lukio for graciously hosting this event, providing a nurturing environment for these impactful discussions and workshops. The collaboration and enthusiasm of all participants and partners have propelled us toward our collective goal of fostering sustainable communities. Previous Next

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Free School Meals for a Greener World

Imagine a world where school meals aren’t just plates of food; they’re exciting adventures served with a side of sustainability. With schools adopting longer schedules and students desiring for healthy, sustainable meal options, the conversation on school lunches has never been more crucial.  Denmark, known for its liberal approach to school lunches, faces a pivotal moment. The country has the unique opportunity to redefine its approach to school meals, integrating nutrition, learning, and sustainability. On 29 September At the School Food Forum at the Frederiksberg City Hall a group of experts, educators, policymakers, and our dedicated team at Crossing Borders gathered to discuss and co-create the future of school meals in Denmark.  The day started with the energy of young minds in the Young People’s Foodlab, showcasing innovative proposals for green food solutions. This demonstrated how project-based learning and youthful creativity can integrate into sustainability education. The event was also graced by Jacob Jensen, Minister for Food, Agriculture, and Fisheries, who set the stage with insights into the past, present, and future of school meals in Denmark.   As for the Crossing Border’s presence at the event, We were proudly presenting “Growing Green Communities” program. This initiative is more than just a project, it’s a vision for a healthier, sustainable future. “Growing Green Communities” Project aims to understand the pathways of change in urban food production and consumption, we encourage young people to support communities in initiating urban gardening projects. It’s about empowering young gardeners, promoting plant-powered diets, and supporting local food heroes. Through this initiative, every meal becomes an opportunity for learning, fostering a deeper connection between food, sustainability, and community.  The event culminated in a powerful discussion about the significance of healthy school lunches and different perspectives of school food policies, involving CB team members from various countries. It showcased Crossing Borders’ commitment to diversity, inclusivity, and the belief that every child deserves access to nutritious meals for a brighter future.  Our presence at this event symbolizes our dedication to shaping a world where education, nutrition, and sustainability intersect harmoniously. The importance of providing healthy meals lies at the heart of Crossing Borders’ mission, because at Crossing Borders, every meal is a story, and every story is a step towards a better, greener world. Written By: Luka Tsibadze

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Growing Green Communities at Madens Folkemøde Festival

On Friday, the 2nd of June 2023, two members of the Crossing Borders staff took part at the Madens Folkemøde Festival under the Growing Green Communities project. As the festival’s focus is to provide the space and opportunity for people to discuss the Danish food chain and food systems, the Growing Green Communities attendance was an easy decision. The festival took place over two days at Engestofte Estate in Lolland, Denmark. Both Friday and Saturday were filled with conversations and talks between politicians, researchers, companies, and organisations that shared essential points about how to make our food systems more efficient and sustainable. Through a wide range of debates, workshops, show kitchens, tastings and conversations, the participants of the festival were able to dive into the wonderful world of food and learn more about this fundamental part of our lives. The topics such as what food is, what it should be, where it comes from and how we should eat in the future were mentioned. During the festival, our partner, the University of Copenhagen, organised an event called “Climate, school and green food transition” under SESAM, an EU funded project. The aim of the event was to bring pupils and event participants together and give them the opportunity to develop ideas and tools to tackle the issues caused by the current unsustainable food system. The method used was based on the Design Thinking method, where pupils in groups had to generate ideas about a food-related subject, brainstorm, create prototypes, and share their idea with others. The outcomes of the event were positive with pupils generating interesting ideas and sharing them with the rest of the participants through posters. Several groups thought about creating apps giving tips on how to use food leftovers or giving recipes ideas depending on the products that you buy. Others talked about allowing schools’ canteens to use stores’ unsold products to cook. Taking part in this event was a great experience for everyone, the pupils who learnt about food systems and shared their ideas on how to make them more sustainable in the future; our partner SESAM who managed to engage youth in a current important subject that is the green transition of our food production & consumption; and the members of the Growing Green Communities project who got the chance to be inspired by this workshop for their future events and share the project with the broader public. Blog author: Anna Bonenfant; Karolína Vítečková

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Growing Green Communities Training in Bordeaux, France

From 13th to 16th March 2023, the Erasmus+ Project Growing Green Communities (GGC) training took place in Bordeaux, France. Project partners from Finland, Denmark, Germany, Switzerland, and France met with 8 young students to learn from each other best practices in developing green communities, including urban gardens. Project participants of different ages, nationalities, cultural, educational, and professional backgrounds had 4 intensive days of activities inside and outside the classroom. Our project partner and city host, Salu Terre, took the training participants to visit different projects based on community development, including the first community garden in France. Participants visited interesting green places such ENSAP. School of the Gardens, Jardins de Beaudesert at Mérignac ,the Pedagogical Farm of Les Aubiers, the Alotment Gardens of Les Aubiers and the Ecological Park of Domaine de la Burthe Ardins de Beaudesert Mérignac. The GGC project coordinator Giselle Mesiara mentioned in her GGC training reflection that visiting different sustainability-related projects gives training participants the opportunity to better understand not only what a community garden is and its benefits, but also the challenges and difficulties behind it. “When we see a beautiful community garden, we don’t know all the challenges it had to face to finally flourish in every way”. The training in Bordeaux introduced the realities of a community development activity, including unsuccessful community gardens, the difficulties of obtaining land and committed volunteers, and the hard work of a door-to-door community approach. GGC participants had a realistic experience of a community development process, which laid the foundation for the development of the Growing Green Community framework. In addition to external activities, the collaborative methodology of “learning from, with and about” was implemented. Where each project partner had the opportunity to present their professional expertise and innovative ways of collaborating to achieve the goals of the GGC. The active participation of young people in the process of mapping the needs of the GGC will be analyzed in the next phase of the project. The knowledge generated during the GGC training activities in Bordeaux was in connection with the achievement of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals 2 (Zero Hunger), 3 (Good Health and Well-Being), 11.7 (Provide Access to Safe and Inclusive Green and Public Spaces), 12.3 (Halve Global Capita Food Waste), 13 (Climate Action) and 17.16 (Enhance the Global Partnership for Sustainable Development). The NGO Crossing Borders, which is a major implementer of project activities that meet the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of the United Nations in Denmark and globally, is leading the Erasmus+ project Growing Green Communities. Blog author: Mesiara, Giselle Previous Next Growing Green Communities Project Participants Previous Next

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Sense, Science & the Magic of Food -SESAM

Tackling household food waste is one of the goals of the Growing Green Communities (GGC) project to achieve the “green transition”. On December 14, 2022, a training on strategies to reduce food waste and loss was moderated by Professor Bent E. Mikkelsen of the University of Copenhagen, and GGC partner. This training took place on the 3rd day of the event headed by the SESAM Project, where activities were centered on the exchange of knowledge of good practices in combating food waste. Participants from different countries inside and outside Europe had the opportunity to present their methods of mitigating food waste and learn from others. In the Sydhavan district of Copenhagen, training participants started the day with the “Walk & Talk” activity on green transition strategies and engagement on mitigating food waste, led by Professor Bent. Later, a panel discussion on the topic “The Local Approach to Tackling Food Waste” was held at the University of Aalborg. During the panel, participants had the opportunity to hear “WHAT” and “HOW” civil society and government CAN DO to combat food waste. Following the panel session, attendees visited Sydhavn’s school canteen to watch a demonstration of how food service coordinator Sabrina H. Brasch measures food waste and how this measurement leads to climate-friendly action. In addition, participants had the opportunity to sample Sydhavn’s school meals. Back at Aalborg University, participants attended another seminar to learn about food waste challenges and solutions based on experiences from the municipality of Copenhagen. This groundbreaking event enabled the exchange of knowledge and collaboration among participants to achieve the United Nations, Sustainable Development Goal number 12.3 Food Waste and Loss Reduction. Growing Green Communities partners benefited from learning different approaches to reducing food waste and work on co-creating innovative practices to be implemented among young students. Blog authors:Akay, Furkan; Mesiara, Giselle Previous Next

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