Seeds of a Common Future: a regenerative process for promoting integration and income opportunities 

By Fotini Georgousi

‘Seeds of a Common Future’ is an urban Permaculture project designed to bring together refugees, development workers and locals into a shared learning experience that provides them with a thorough understanding of the value of heirloom seeds and their use in promoting food security and supporting the development of a new urban farming culture.

Combining theory and practice, it intends to assist the participants in developing the necessary skills and perspectives for growing food in urban landscapes, harvesting and processing vegetable seeds as well as producing seedlings.
Moreover, it up-skills the participants in planning, organising and implementing entrepreneurial initiatives related to seed and seedling production as well as in the development of solidarity markets.

The project’s open activities introduce participants from the local community to qualified Permaculture practitioners (farmers, gardeners, seed savers) and create interactions that could potentially result in emerging job opportunities.

The project develops in the district of Kipseli, Greece in collaboration with the Ankaa Project and Mpostani.

Since the beginning of the program, the following activities have taken place:

  • an urban garden design and building seminar, during which the Ankaa garden was constructed and planted (the main site for courses follow up activities);
  • an 8 week specialised gardening course focused on seedling production, during which the participants produced around 2000 seedlings;
  • two seedlings’ markets, during which 1600 seedlings were handed out to more than 250 people from the local community;
  • a seed saving seminar, during which the participants processed vegetables that were produced at the gardens of Ankaa and Nea Guinea during the follow up period, for obtaining seeds. The seeds were then packed and labelled for selling;
  • an open event consisting of a seeds’ market and a free seed saving workshop. During this event about 150 people passed by our stall and got 480 packets of seeds;
  • open gardening days in the Ankaa and Nea Guinea gardens for course participants to join in.

    Overall, this project provides the people involved with environmental education, and assists them to perceive their neighborhood as a human ecosystem. It provides people with opportunities to realize their creative potential by utilizing and sharing existing skills or learning new ones, thus facilitating their re-engagement in life. Moreover it assists them with knowledge, infrastructure and materials in retrofitting physical spaces as well as in building invisible structures that can support community functions. It creates a social environment that is characterized by mutual understanding, respect, acceptance and solidarity and at the same time creates the conditions for new job opportunities to emerge in the field of urban gardening, while empowering the people involved and enhancing their sense of self-reliance.
    Nea Guinea was founded in 2009 in Greece with the aim to inform, educate, inspire and support people to redefine their needs and redesign their lives, for the transition to a regenerative future.

Nea Guinea develops activities along the following streams:

  • permaculture design and regenerative agriculture;
  • renewable energy and off grid systems;
  • climate crisis and nature based responses;
  • homesteading skills;
  • community building and cultural regeneration;
  • refugee support, vocational training and integration.

The project is based in a small productive farm at the outskirts of Athens that operates as a permaculture community centre and test site for researching and adapting different techniques to the Mediterranean climate.

Over the years, working groups have designed and established regenerative land-based projects and off grid renewable energy systems for farms, businesses, refugee settlements and remote communities across Greece and abroad. We have also organized numerous educational programs, with more than 7000 participants as well as open informative events and gatherings with more than 10,000 attendees.

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