Shingle making – agroecological practice for today and tomorrow

Structure : Biotechnical center Naklo, Strahinj, Slovenia
Subtitle / abstract : Skill of making shingles is a good example of traditional knowledge. This sustainable use of renewable resources can illustrate the concept of agroecology very well.
Target group : Teachers, Students
Duration : 2 days (each 6 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 concept and approaches of agroecology the methods of non-formal transfer of knowledge was developed. Method is used to inform target groups, senzibilise them, initiate discussion about agroecological knowledges and their importance for sustainable management of rural areas. Method used in this experiment enables target group to get an idea about agroecological knowledges trough different levels of activity including “hands on experience”. The method is described in more detail in "Nonformal transfer of agroecological knowledge" in Methods and Tools section.
Principles of action : To test non-formal method of knowledge transfer we took part in "Project days" at BC Naklo which is a kind of "festival of knowledge" organized as an auxiliary activity twice a year at BC Naklo. They are meant as an upgrade of their theoretical school knowledge or information about developments in the fields of agronomy, environment, rural development and ithers. The activity is divided into two days and the results are products or presentations of workshops' activities for fellow students. Workshop was attended by 12 students. The action based on presentation of the meaning and concept of agroecology by presenting typical traditional activities and connecting them to use of wood in building. Some theoretical and practical aspects and tools for shingle making were presented and the demonstration of the work took place. Students could try making the shingle. Sensibilization was motivated by “homework“for students. The next day conversation about their observations and the presentation of the activity for fellow students enabled them to re-evaluate the experience and understand the approach of agroecology and use of renewable raw materials.
Phases in the training pathway : The sequence of the activity was divided to level 1 where the term agroecology was introduced by presentation of some typical traditional practices in Slovenia which can be considered agroecological. Then an introduction to the skill of shingle making took place, where the practitioner presented himself, his practice from choosing the right wood to installing shingles on roofs. He emphasized that the knowledge was basically in the family for some generations and how he acquired more skills from internet. He explained the philosophy of shingle roof and described his most interesting projects. On the end of the first part conversation about the use of wood in building houses and farm objects introduced the use of sustainable resources as agroecology.
The second part of first level was demonstration of shingle making from the log which was brought by practitioner. He presented all the tools and explained how to cleave the log to get shingles. Then some students and a teacher tried the procedure and made shingles of their own. They got an impression about the precision and the hardness of the work. Practitioner consulted them how find the right part for cleaving and how to use tools.
On the end of the day 1students discussed the experience and got some conclusions. They were motivated to observe how many and which buildings near their homes are made from wood and what is their purpose.
The next day the level 2 was implemented, were students did a synthesis of their observations the day before and were guided to understand agroecology trough observed practice. They prepared short PPT presentation about shingle making as information to fellow students.
As a complementary activity the poster about agroecology prepared in English was translated in “language workshop” into Slovenian language and displayed in classroom of agricultural knowledges.
Observed interest of the training process : - The group members were students who didn’t knew each other well so we performed a little introduction of each one, telling the name and why he/she is here and what funny happened on the way to school. Trainer and practitioner presented themselves also to start group dynamics to surpass sleepiness and initial low interest.
-Short presentation of agroecological practices and introduction of shingle making were good received and students asked questions on the subject.
- “homework” was done by several of students, but they could discuss about the use of wood and draw some conclusions. They got sensibilised to the meaning of agroecology.
- Preparation of the short presentation for fellow students enabled group members to recapitulate the experience about the meaning of shingle making as an agroecological practice.
- Demonstration of shingle making and students taking part in this gave them an insight what knowledges and skills are essential for shingle making and got motivation for forming their own perspective about this traditional practice.
Limits and difficulties encountered : - There is still low understanding of the concept of agroecology in all target groups and more effort should be done to introduce the concept to different target groups including general public.
- The school environment somehow disrupted students and didn’t allow them to focus only on the activity.
Recommendations : - The workshop enabled us to test the tool and see opportunities of its one of the methods of knowledge transfer just in one segment, but it is useful (with modifications) for other target groups too.
  • Even the group was homogenous, participants didn't know each other. The phase of introduction was essential to get non-formal feeling since we were in the school. Maybe the change of the place would be good solution.
-In the case of activity with other target groups it should be considered how to start group dynamics. The discussion with andragogic professional indicated that in Slovenia grownups seldom respond positively to motivating games and in some cases only short presentation by names is sufficient.
- The method is allowing to follow different objectives (to get acquainted,-to introduce,to transfer, to implement). Thus also the objective we want to achieve is important for successful transfer of the agroecological knowledge or knowledge about agroecology.
-In case of farmers as target group approach with demonstration and conversation with practitioner can be motivation for exchange of agroecological knowledge between them.
The method allows modificationsof activities on the level 2 in connection to objectives and target group.
Speakers : Nejc Dijak (practicioner),l dr. Janko Rode (moderator)
Contact email :

Location of the training session

Adress : Strahinj 99
Post code : 4202
City : Naklo
Country : Slovenia