This section offers project specific news we want to highlight during the project lifetime. For more country specific information, please go to the news section of the respective country.

GARDEN Project – Final Conference

After a very exciting and testing period filled with trials and tribulations, the GARDEN project has reached the stage of its final conference. Wiesbaden in Germany hosted this celebratory event held on 8th October 2013, where the project partners came together with international guests from Bulgaria, Denmark, Greece, Italy, Romania, Slovakia and Portugal  in order to offer and receive exciting news on the achievements of the project. Many representatives from German organisations that work with young low-qualified adults, helping them to re-enter the labour market, took part and contributed with valuable input on how the products the project has developed can be used in their own organisations and networks. Participating organisations/representatives included stakeholders from the Social Ministry of Hessen, policy makers of the region, programme designers, VET providers, NGOs in the field of vocational guidance and counselling, as well as teachers, trainers and researchers.

Information was shared on developments within the GARDEN project, including testing results, and a discussion on the lessons learnt took place among more than 30 training managers and education staff working with young deprived learners. The achievements of the project had been acknowledged and celebrated whilst special attention was given to discuss specific trends in the field of training and the future of the GARDEN project based on an interesting speech given by a representative of the Social Ministry.

(c.f. agenda and presentations held during the event below)

This is just a selection of comments made in the course of the event, which epitomize the intensity and fruitfulness of discussions:

Kim L., Denmark ‘It is a good way to teach young people. It is an innovative project and a good way to get young ones on board.’

Gergana R., Bulgaria: ‘We have experience with different groups and the mobility issue has always been a problem. Concerning public institutions it is always good to have such projects to attract more young individuals. Even in my country, public schools have to attract learners not to be closed. I will distribute the information to our networks of career counsellors in private schools and I’m very sure that they will be able to use it.’


Introduction: about the project, Helmut Kronika (BEST, Projektkoordinator - Österreich)

The main project products: GARDEN Didactic Manual, Toolbox and Platform, Lukas Brunbauer (BEST, project coordinating organisation - Austria)

What have test participants said about the products – Results of the piloting phase, Vintra Puke (LSPD, Lettland)

Further fotos:


The GARDEN project has finalised the GARDEN „Didactic Manual” and “Toolkit” (available on the GARDEN Platform - see also our products' section on this site) and is organising its final event to share details on development and testing results, as well as lessons learnt with interested training managers, education staff dealing with young deprived learners. The event will be celebrated in Wiesbaden, Germany, October 8th.


Examples for Exploitation in Vienna, Austria

Gardens as places of education for young adults

Inspired by the GARDEN project, our trainers and research staff are on the outlook for further interesting aspects of gardens in education. Recently, gardening and the outdoors have regained their popularity in Austria e.g., and educators have rediscovered their use as an educational resource for children: in a garden, children and young ones can let off steam, be creative and relax. Gardens which incorporate a variety of different aspects of landscape, such as hedges which provide shadow and hiding ground for animals, can further one’s creativity and let one enjoy to your hearts’ content. Playing in a garden can also have positive medical effects, such as relief from headaches, less aggressive behaviour or better powers of concentration.

The BEST GARDEN staff decided to pursue this trend and try it out with their youngsters. They were satisfied with the results: although not playing, the young adults seemingly enjoyed themselves while carrying out activities in a garden, and the learning outcomes were very positive, especially as far as collaboration and social, as well as communication skills were concerned. BEST’s trainers and research staff feel that this re-emerging trend confirms the GARDEN-philosophy: garden as an ideal setting which offers optimal conditions for the youngsters to acquire basic skills. If you have access to a garden, make use of it – your learners will profit from it!

Examples for Exploitation in Zumaia, Spain

During a technical visit to the Geoparc in Zumaia, costa vasca, the GARDEN project, aims, results and dissemination materials, were presented to the technical management and international visitors from VET, trade unions and similar organisations. 14 kilometers of coast line where you still see the area of dinosaurs offer an intangible heritage from language to ports,all accessible to public in the park. The Geoparc aims at the local development via divers strands from nature to entertainment and education. In latter pillar, the GARDEN project can be of benefit offering new contents in activities in nature for visitors of the Geoparc (

GARDEN and the excelent validation resumée

After a long and intensive piloting phase, the project partners met in Riga, Latvia, in February 2013 to discuss the main results and feedback they had collated from more than 200 individuals. During the validation phase of the GARDEN project, starting in July 2012 and lasting until February 2013, the elaborated didactic materials in form of more than 70 training ‘TOOLS’ and a ‘Didactic Manual’ were implemented in training courses, youth group activities and other learning environments. In total, the records show that approximately 120 learners aged between 16 and 19 years took part in the activities. What they liked most was first of all the practical approach and specific activities like online research, working with pictures and creative materials. They also appreciated the variety/ possibility to have other methodologies in their courses than the one based on instructions. The youngsters very much appreciated the learning of new skills experiencing it as being “something different” and “working with other people to experience good team work, improving general knowledge”.

The main element to achieve this was offering basic skills training in activities connected to nature – like management of parks, work in gardens or forests etc. – combining a variety of working and teaching methods leaving room for their exploration and self-empowerment. Finally, the partnership managed to design clear and practical handouts learners could use during their outdoor activities. “The handouts were well structured, nicely designed, adequately timed, clear and practical.” (quote one learner)

(example of learning contents)

In addition to the learners, about the same number of facilitators was involved in the validation phase and – frankly speaking - they appreciated the tools very much. They expressed strong interest in receiving all the final materials in their language, soon. The practical approach and the clear structure of the activity description (offering details on learning outcomes, abstract, step-by-step explanation and similar an educator would be interested in) were both very much valued. The trainers found that the activities were easy to implement into existing training measures and the Didactic Manual they had in addition was perceived as “very compact and helpful”, very comprehensive and of good quality.

Based on this, the project partners will finalise the GARDEN platform, tools and didactic manual to offer the materials also in German, Spanish, Latvian and Islandic for interested learners and learning facilitators.

Urban Gardening on the rise in Vienna

The concept of ‘Urban Gardening’, an up-and-coming phenomenon of the last few years, is on the rise in Austria, and especially in Vienna. A quite green city already, with its many parks, promenades, and the area around the Danube river, Vienna is becoming more and more green. In the outer districts, urban gardening has already been established during the past few years in the form of community gardens. In these gardens, many flowers and vegetables are planted and cultivated, and even during the winter months, the community gardens provide joy to their gardeners. Spaces in these gardens are vastly popular. Ursula Taborsky, Verein Gartenpolylog, commented that for 26 gardening spaces in the community garden Arenbergpark for example, there were over 180 applicants.

In the inner districts, however, urban gardening has been less developed. Recently, and just in time for the new gardening season of 2013 to start, trainers and GARDEN research staff from the BEST Institut für berufsbezogene Weiterbildung und Personaltraining GmbH noticed that little green spaces that were previously unused, were being prepared for urban gardening. As the winter retires, new signs pop up in these spaces: ‘This will be a new community garden’.

BEST has taken up this opportunity to kick start the outdoors GARDEN Parcours activities. The young adults enjoyed the outdoors activities – next to learning in this natural, yet urban environment, they felt that the activities especially furthered their communication skills. Try it yourself: gather seedlings and plants and engage with your neighbourhood! If you want to join, just contact us.

GARDEN partner Meeting in Plymouth, UK

The third partner meeting for the GARDEN project took place on 10th and 11th September 2012 in Plymouth, UK.  It was another opportunity for the partnership to meet and share experiences and creative ideas about the project and enabled discussion on the best way of pilot testing the training activities developed for the project.   The group were given a tour of Devonport Park, Plymouth by Dennis Trewin, Gardening Consultant to the Friends of Devonport Park, which was most informative and gave him an opportunity to explain the work he carries out with young people within the park.  The following day was spent at Mount Edgcumbe Country House to update all project partners on the progress of all the work packages. There was also an opportunity for a tour of the historical gardens within the estate that was used to discuss activities that are organised there to take care and manage the garden.

‘GARDEN your educational life’ in Bilbao, Spain!

The GARDEN project partners met in a workshop in Bilbao, Spain, April 17-18th 2012 to discuss and work on the structure of the GARDEN tools: didactic materials to use for the training of young adults in basic skills areas which shall be used in outdoor activities related to gardening. The partner organisations will share the development tasks to elaborate first contents in the next months. To get a first impression of gardening related work, the project members were invited by the project ‘Environmental reforesting of Cerredo native forest (San Antón y Fuentelateja)’, developed by the Department of Environment of Castro Urdiales Council. During this study tour, the project partners could learn more about this pioneer project and participated directly in the plantation of trees in the hillsides of the Cerredo mountains and the greenhouse of the Department of Environment (Castro Urdiales Council).

While planting oaks, beeches, holm oaks, holly tree, willows and similar, we explored team work issues, did some multiplication and quizzes and learnt new words in the partner languages that referred to tools and plants. 'We have very much enjoyed the atmosphere and lively work in setting out trees and flowers in Bilbao's suburbs', says the project coordinator, Karin Kronika.

Our most sincere thanks to the Department of Environment (Castro Urdiales Council) for giving us the opportunity to visit their project.

GARDEN has prepared the grounds!

We have been a little disappointed lately by our apprentices’ attitude towards their work tasks; it seems they don’t see they have to make an effort and sometimes go extra miles.’, has been only one reply of a manager in Austria when asked about competences and skills they found their young workers would lack. Finishing our first survey in the GARDEN partner countries, we can summarise that we will consider the following basic skills to be covered within our training materials:

  • communication – reading, writing, talking to clients/ customers
  • basic mathematical/ scientific tasks -  adding, subtracting, multiplying, dividing, understanding percentages
  • ICT – use common IT software to write, share text and calculation files, enter the www and know how to communicate there,
  • other – like entrepreneurial, customer care and similar skills

Ground-breaking ceremony - We’ve started!

With this year’s January weather in Vienna/Austria, we were lucky and could start our ‘GARDEN your educational life’ project with outdoor activities related to gardening and nature as metaphor for a new learning situ and learning driver to young people with school drop-out history or rather frustrating learning experience and bad or not appropriate school qualification for their labour market entry.

Representatives of GARDEN partner organisations from Austria, Germany, Iceland, Latvia, Spain and the UK met at BEST headquarters in Vienna from January 8th - 9th (2011) for the official project kick off meeting.

We discussed detailed aspects about the project idea, our work plan and partners’ individual tasks along the project lifetime, as well as administrative topics. Focusing on education relevant issues related to the project aims, the GARDEN steering team discussed in particular the situation of young people without school degree who want/need to push their job career towards better times; an endeavour which is difficult for many people, but even more for those who start from a more disadvantaged educational history.

Although the partnership is still in the middle of their research activities to establish a good basis and ground – i.e. our ‘top soil’ for the three main educational products (i.e. the GARDEN didactic manual, toolbox and web-platform), we have already agreed on following the main structure of the European Qualification Framework (EQF) when defining the knowledge, skills and competences GARDEN followers should achieve when learning with the foreseen teaching materials, which will focus on social and basic skills they need at the labour market. For interested readers, we’ve collated some basic information on EQF in our link section, with some other resources as well. Read more about our GARDEN progress here soon.


Other published news like

PR texts: 1, 2, 3, 4


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This project (n° 518294-LLP-1-2011-1-AT-GRUNDTVIG-GMP) has been funded with support from the European Commission. This publication reflects the views only of the author, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.


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