The “Learning by Gardening” project, conceived in 2022, was implemented from January 2023 and had a duration until December of the same year. The initiative, carried out in Messina, aimed to transform urban green spaces into areas of learning and social inclusion. Based on scientific research, such as the one conducted by Bendt et al., the project promoted environmental education and awareness of climate change, fostering lifelong learning among adults, with particular attention to those at risk of social exclusion.
In collaboration with a range of experts and public and private organizations, the project developed a transferable training model in the field of urban horticulture. Thanks to the approval of the municipal council of Messina in 2021, a plot of land was identified for the urban garden. This initiative involved the young population, both at the local and international level, providing a significant contribution to the city and acquiring practical skills for future job opportunities in horticulture.
The team of young people involved, affiliated with the ESN circuit, acquired technical skills in the field of horticulture and trained as educators for other young people. The project also reached out to those lacking a specific professional qualification, due to economic or family disadvantages.
The main goal of the project was to train young people for active involvement in local society activities and provide practical education in sustainable entrepreneurship. Through non-formal education, participants acquired experiences, tools, and practical knowledge in the field of responsible entrepreneurship, public participation, sustainable development, promotion of a healthy lifestyle, and physical activity.
In line with the objectives of the European Green Deal and the European Agenda, the project promoted social inclusion and care for the environment. Although not an innovative project, it responded to the need for more green space in Messina and training for young people, addressing a future challenge.
Throughout 2023, outdoor workshops, visits to local entrepreneurs, and interviews with experts and environmental and social activists were organized. The urban garden, accessible to everyone, including people with disabilities, became a learning center. The project budget was dedicated to the purchase of equipment and plants, with the Enjoy Sicily association managing the purchases and keeping the invoices.
The “Learning by Gardening” project received financial support from the European Solidarity Corps, a European Union initiative that provides young people with opportunities for volunteering or work in projects in their own country or abroad, benefiting communities and citizens across Europe. This support effectively enabled the implementation of project activities, making a significant contribution to youth training and the promotion of environmental sustainability in Messina.