Motivation for this project and why this project is needed

All six partners are united by the common desires to encourage active citizenship, promote sustainable healthy lifestyles and improve the local and wider environment that we live in. There is a need to engage all sectors of society with their environment in order to awaken a sense of responsibility, not only for each individual's own health but also the health of the ecosystem that we all depend upon. There is also a recognition that in order to do this individuals need to feel connected with their immediate surroundings and empowered to make a change. One way of increasing the sense of individual empowerment is through learning new skills, hence the reason for all six partners, who share extensive experience in delivering adult education, whether formal or informal, coming together to investigate new approaches.

The partners hope to share experiences and generate new ideas and strategies for cooperative learning and teaching, as well as work together on increasing their impact and outreach. All partners are aware that there is much more to be learned and gained from the diversity of experience offered by different types of organisations. It is also a unique position of privilege to be able to enjoy the experiences and examples from other cultures, putting all the of the shared goals in a wider context. This project provides the space within which this transnational collaboration is possible.

The recent trend of growing edible, medicinal and other useful plants in cities suggests that this type of community activity re-establishes the connection between people and healthy food production, contributes to a sense of involvement and inclusion and increases citizen responsibility by giving them a sense that they do have the power to make changes in their city. The evidence is visible and tangible in the resulting gardens which have been created by their hands. Moreover, being able to consume and make use of their harvest provides an enormous sense of satisfaction, not just an overall sense of wellbeing from working with nature. The health benefits come in the physical work as well as from a greater motivation to eat more healthily through learning to cook and preserve harvest. The financial benefits come from saving money on groceries and entrepeneurial possibilities for income generation through market gardens, community gardens, herb gardens and other initiatives.

Urban gardening is becoming a very important movement of our time because it has the potential to contribute to renewed local economies, environmental stewardship and even inspire changes in local politics.

The exchange of experience on adult learning possibilities in this context is of vital importance . As an educational tool, urban gardening is accessible to all ages, all cultures, all genders, all income levels, all abilities. For a learner the results are tangible and applicable to everyday life.

There is a need to take the benefits and examples of successful urban gardening initiatives and raise their profile in Europe as a mainstream activity and as a recognized social and educational tool for engaging the more marginalized members of society, for example, lonely seniors, unemployed young adults and others who are disadvantaged in a social context. Urban gardening could be the common ground on which mutual understanding is strengthened between different generations, community groups and cultures.

This collaboration provides the opportunity for three organisations experienced with urban gardening to share their experience and expertise with the three other organisations, who in turn can share their expertise in working with local authorities and governments, in different learning and teaching approaches used in adult education institutions and in reaching out to socially disadvantaged members of the community. Between them the partners have a much broader range of knowledge, experience and resources that can be pooled together and cross-pollinated, enabling them all to emerge from this project with all-encompassing strategies for taking new projects and initiatives forward. The resulting website and printed material documenting the project activities promises to be a large step towards lifting urban gardening education into the mainstream.