Demonstration garden – Permaculture in action

Structure : Chamber of Agriculture and Forestry of Slovenia
Subtitle / abstract : On the example of permaculture demonstration garden, the dynamics and approaches of nonformal transfer of agroecological knowledge was experienced by advisors of Public farmer advisory service
Target group : Trainers, Advisors
Duration : 3 hours
Preamble : The meaning of agroecology as it is perceived today in EU documents is not common in all cultural environments. In Slovenia the expression is still related more to the scientific study of ecology in field systems – predominantly studying abiotic factors. To promote the approaches of agroecology trainers have to have their own experience on some aspects of agroeclogical knowledge. The most important thing is to understand what is AE knowledge and how they fit into specific vision of development of rural space management including social interaction in the countryside. Advisors of FAS in Slovenia are trained in some skills of pedagogy but introduction of interactive and innovative approaches is still not the focus of their work. They are familiar with training approaches associated with knowledge, recognised scientifically and validated by the agricultural professionals. There is growing need to incorporate and validate also traditional approaches and local knowledges for sustainable farming and to transfer this knowledges to small family farmers
Principles of action : To begin the discussion and to reveal meaning of agroecologycal knowledges as base for development new paradigm of sustainable farming, we decided to organize the visit to demonstration gardens of AGRA in G. Radgona and witness the technique of introducing, explaining and transmission of specific knowledge connected to permaculture systems. We wanted to demonstrate how to understand the theory and practice of transmission, demonstration and experimentation for training future farmers. We demonstrated to farm advisors (trainers) how to change the status of lecturer and become facilitator and moderator of AE knowledge transfer. Members of the group were motivated to put questions, comment and present their personal opinions but in strictly non-judgemental approach. They were guided to differentiate their own experience and conception of knowledge acquisition.
The workshop was a demonstration of nonformal transfer of the knowledge where the trainer has an equal position to trainees and enables the transfer of knowledge in both directions. The approach is useful in preparing different activities connected to every day work of advisors in the practical work with farmers and other target groups (primary school children, rural women, young farmers…) in rural areas.
Phases in the training pathway : Since we had a limited time for the workshop the phase of introduction was short and moderated by the host expert Tomaž Gjerkeš of Permaculture association of Slovenia. Since all participants were from advisory service, they generally knew each other. Moderator invited them to have a drink of their herbal tea and motivated participants to introduce themselves in two sentences and explain why they decided to join the workshop. He also introduced himself and his two assistants. He introduced also the place with demonstration model of straw bale house, ecological WC and “low tech” stow made from the oil barrel and invited the group to the demonstration garden.
Next phase was introduction to permaculture philosophy on demonstration garden, where host connected theoretical approaches to permaculture solutions seen on site. Trough good focused questions he initiated the debate about differences between conventional farming (monoculture) and permaculture. In such way the group together formed understanding of permaculture and also the meaning of agroecology.
As the last phase participants were invited to taste a meal prepared from crops from demonstration garden prepared in “low tech” oven. Each of them was encouraged to summarize his experience on demonstration garden on personal level and on professional level (how the approach is useful for his/her work and how agroecology can be introduced to fellow advisors and farmers). Also the host expressed his own opinion about experience with the group.
Observed interest of the training process : - Since the group members knew each other there was no need for extensive motivation activities to start group dynamics.
-Demonstration of facilitation approaches of the host were good received and the role of trainer (advisor) as an equal in the group was understood well.
- Conclusion analysis, presentation and discussion about possibilities of use in everyday work of advisor on personal experiences was crucial.
- The use of demonstration garden enabled direct involvement of participants and motivation for forming their own perspective.
Limits and difficulties encountered : There is still low understanding of the concept of agroecology between advisors and more effort should be done to introduce the concept to future trainers (and other target groups including general public).
Short time of the workshop enables only limited insight in some of methods of agroecological knowledge transfer.
Recommendations : - Since the group was very homogenous and participants knew each other, the phase of introduction could be shortened. But in the case of activity with target group it should be considered as a the crucial point to start group dynamics.
Important for the training of trainers is to demonstrate the use of different approaches and enable them to incorporate knowledge into their work starting from their own experience.
It is important for trainers to experience the approach of transfer of agroecological knowledge to understand the concept of being facilitator or motivator instead of formal lecturer.
-In case of farmers as target group approach with deminstration garden or visit to good practice can be motivation for exchanging agroecological knowledge between them.
Télécharger le fichier : bf_fichierjoint_20160823_131004.jpg
Speakers : Tomaž Gjerkeš, help in moderation dr. Janko Rode
Contact email :

Location of the training session

Adress : Cesta na stadion 2
Post code : 9250
City : Gornja Radgona
Country : Slovenia