Thank you so much for organising the youth lab, it was by far the best online event I ever participated in.

A Participant

The rollout of the fourth International Youth Lab (May 22nd–23rd) has come and gone, leaving the MIJARC Europe team thoroughly impressed and inspired by the passion-driven workshops and discussions from both the experts and the attendees alike. With topics ranging from the exploitation of migrant workers to questioning our powers of privilege, we can certainly say that we all left the event feeling more knowledgeable, empowered, and motivated to turn our ideas of action into concrete realities. Now you may be wondering, “What exactly did I miss?” Well, for those of you asking, here are the event’s discussions and exchanges in a nutshell.

Migrant Workers’ Rights in the Agri-Food Sector

The day opened with a talk by our expert on the topic, Gianluca Cesaro, from PICUM, an international network of organisations advocating for the rights of undocumented migrants. In this informative session, Gianluca explained the everyday realities of labourers with neither permits nor recognisable rights. Some of the potential solutions that sprouted from the ensuing discussions were:

  • The importance of problematising all foodstuffs, not just meat products;
  • A call to acknowledge that 1 purchase = 1 vote; and
  • The need to re-label our food products and to question why so few Fair-trade goods are made available in our grocery stores. 

Migrant Workers’ Rights in Almería: Organising the Struggle

The first workshop was conducted by Johanna Moreno, Delia McGarth, and José García Cuevas from SOC-SAT Almería, a union aimed at defending and upholding the rights of rural workers from Andalusia to foster a fairer and democratic society. Here are some key takeaways from this session:

  • The south of Spain exports 85% of its fruits and veggies to Europe, yet consumers are blind to the fact that most of this agricultural produce is being cultivated by Moroccan migrants that have been brought into Spain by a system with racist, sexist, and patriarchal connotations (thus affecting women disproportionately);
  • The label “organic” does not guarantee fairness and equity; and
  • Excessive production has had knock-on effects on the local environment, in particular by drying up the aquifers and damaging national parks.

From East to West: EU Migrant Workers and the EU Protection

Ramona Duminicioiu from EcoRuralis and La Via Campesina facilitated the second workshop that discussed the roots of today’s East-West disparities. In brief, the Cold War period saw the capitalist system of the West overtake the then-Soviet controlled East. This enabled large corporations to take part in labour exploitation and land grabbing practices that led to extreme rightists scaling up the hierarchical ladder while leaving the poor behind. As Eastern governments were powerless and unable to support their local markets and food systems, Eastern workers were gradually becoming marginalised and underrepresented. Such inequalities continue to exist today. The educational talk was then followed by some stimulating questions, such as:

  • If being progressive is not enough, what can we do?
  • Would you say that harmonisation and common standards are problematic for Eastern European countries?
  • How has COVID-19 affected migrant workers in Romania?

Power, Mindfulness, Action!

The following day the participants were greeted by two familiar faces: Sheila and Kinga – our experts in action. During this productive morning, participants got to partake in virtual power exercises to better understand the different forms of power and their applicability in our day-to-day lives. This led to discussions revolving around privilege and how our unconscious usage of power has deepened imbalances and insecurities. This was followed by an intriguing discussion on the mind-body division and the need to recover from stress, trauma, and other invisible side effects that may arise from partaking in physical action (we are, after all, only humans). Questioning the bad rep that wellbeing and self-care frequently receive by the public was highlighted, emphasising that social change needs to happen by compassionate activists that realise that for change to happen, they themselves may need to change too.

A Very Fruitful (and Fun!) Event Indeed

One of course must not forget the usual “get-to-know-one-another” activities and events. The Welcome Evening and the National German Evening (on Friday and Saturday night respectively) truly helped strengthen relationships and nurture familiar and safe environments, serving as a platform to help people connect globally and make new (virtual) friends. At the end of the day, the participants left the Lab not only feeling like they had gained a better understanding of the pressing issues at hand, but were also able to take with them a memorable experience that helped create a supportive and kind community of like-minded and inspirational youths.

“I met a lot of wonderful people and learnt new things that will help me become a better person.”

A Participant

Missed the event? No worries! Check out the recap slideshow below drawn and written by the talented Alejandro Gil (@ale_listens_and_draws), which you can also find on our Youtube and Instagram pages. We also hope to see you in our fifth (and sadly final) International Youth Lab happening on June 26th–27th. Follow us on our social media accounts to keep up with any new updates and future events!

”MIJARC Europe Paths” – an annual work plan co-funded by the European Youth Foundation of the Council of Europe and the ERASMUS+ Programme of the European Union.


The year 2021 will mark the end of the 4-year (2018-2021) strategic cycle of MIJARC Europe, led around the three thematic focus points and the four operational objectives adopted by the General Assembly in 2017.

Therefore, the main challenge lies on capitalising on the outcomes and the achievements of the activities implemented over the past three years and on transforming those into tools that will help build the capacities of our member organisations and nourish the next four-year strategic cycle. Our network is strong when its members are strong and our national organisations grow stronger when their young members are empowered to participate actively in society, to advocate for their needs and interest and for those of their organisations and when they are able to improve their own lives.

In 2021, through its annual work plan, MIJARC Europe will focus on the fundamental role young people play in building our network and on supporting them and their organisations to continue to work towards achieving MIJARC Europe’s vision of being a key actor in the development of rural areas in Europe.

The aim of the work plan 2021

The aim is pursued through the following objectives:

  • increase the awareness of the involved young people on the rights that they should be able to enjoy
    in their rural communities
  • increase the ability of young people and of their organisations to claim their rights and to stand up for
    them when their rights are violated
  • motivate and train young people from rural areas in ten different countries to take a more active role
    in the management of their organisation and of MIJARC Europe
  • increase the capacity of MIJARC Europe to transfer knowledge to its member organisations and to
    support them in strengthening their own capacity

The work plan includes 1 local and 2 international activities.

The first phase ”Rural footprints” takes place at local level and consists in a 2-day workshop with a double aim: firstly, to help the member organisations to self-assess their compliance with the CoE’s standard for youth work and quality in non-formal education, and the level of their organisational development; secondly to perform a situational analysis focusing on the barriers experienced by young people and their organisations in accessing their rights at local level. The visits should take place at local level or online, between May-October 2021.

The second phase ”Youth leader path” is a seminar for experienced youth workers, who want to take their competences to the next level and become more engaged in the management of their organisation and of MIJARC Europe. The methodological planning is based on the findings of the local visits and will guide participants towards developing minimum 5 concrete project proposals for improving the access to rights of young people, using a rights-based approach. The seminar is hosted by MRJC in France, between 29 October and 3 November 2021.

The third phase ”Steps to youth worker” is an international training course for entry-level participants, which brings them on the path from participant to youth worker with the purpose of preparing the future generation of youth workers and MIJARC Europe’s European Coordinators. The output of this activity will be an online training programme to be used as an induction training for those who join the executive bodies of MIJARC Europe. The training course is hosted by FYCA in Armenia, in December 2021.

MIJARC Europe is planning to organise the international activities face to face, using a very strict COVID-19 testing or vaccination proof procedure. Keep an eye on the news section for updates.

See you soon!

The third and final activity included in our work plan on 2020, the international summer camp ”Cultivating youth participation” was carried out in a hybrid format, in February 2021, with participants meeting in national groups or connecting exclusively online. In spite of almost one year of continuous uncertainty, endless online meetings and fluctuating periods of hope and fear, the winter camp was a vibrant activity that brought a concrete and significant finality to the activities planned for 2021.

The hybrid winter camp „Cultivating youth participation” was the third activity included in the our work plan „Rock, paper, participation” which is co-funded by the European Youth Foundation of the Council of Europe, Renovabis and the European Commission.

The winter camp was organised between 20-23 February 2021, after going through a significant risk of not being organised at all. Luckily the new Board members of MIJARC Europe decided to take the risk of postponing the activity for 2021 and made efforts to encourage our member movements to organise residential national groups or select participants to connect online. Our movements from Armenia, Bulgaria, Georgia and Romania organised in person events, while the participanta in Belgium, Germany and Malta connected online. A group of 61 registered participants, representing 7 European countries joined the activity. 43 of them attended the winter camp for its entire duration.

The general aim was to increase participants’ knowledge on how to design, plan and manage participatory projects aimed at increasing the level of participation of their peers in decision-making and in policy development about sustainable agriculture at local level. The main tool was the participatory project methodlogy (PPM) proposed in the “Have your say” Manual. The PPM provided the backbone for designing real, concrete projects addresing at least one of the issues related to youth involvement in agriculture that had previously been identified during the local visits.

Almost 90% of the participants declared in the formal evaluation forms their satisfaction and increased motivation to ecourage the participation of their peers in decision-making and in policy development about sustainable agriculture at the local level. More than 80% of the participants felt that the activity had achieved all three of its major objectives, namely:

81% of the participants shared that they have participated and felt included during the activities. One of the factors that made this possible was the local facilitators’ presence and contribution. Another factor was the work in small groups in a virtual environment and instant feedback given by the team of educators and facilitators.

DAY 1

The first day of the activity started with a session in which the participants had the opportunity to get to know each other and the educational team, as well. The second session of the first day aimed to introduce the work done by MIJARC Europe and its member organisations until the moment and give an overview of the previous activities on the local level. The third session was an introductory session for the topics of Youth participation and the Revised European Charter On The Participation Of Young People In Local And Regional Life. As there were participants with different experience and background on youth work and youth empowerment, the session also aimed to ensure that all of the participants are on the same page and have the same understanding of the key concepts of participation and youth work. The participants were introduced to a couple of definitions of youth participation given in the Charter. After discussing and creating the « working definition », the participants were divided into two small groups and introduced to the six-step-model of using the Charter and the RMSOS approach, also provided in the “Have your say!”  manual of the CoE. The fourth session was dedicated to the Participatory Project Methodology. Besides the questions of the participants, additional value to the session came from the first-hand experience and examples shared by the local facilitators and the educational team.

DAY 2

The first session of the second day introduced the Participatory Project Methodology (PPM) framework in details. The session was build based on the information shared on the “Have your say!” manual and T-Kit 3: Project Management of the CoE. The second session was dedicated to sustainable agriculture and youth empowerment, with Janna Herzig, a young expert, presenting two projects: La Bolina (Spain) and Solawi Köln (Germany). By presenting the projects, the expert emphasised the vital role of youth participation in the management and the CSA model as a positive alternative, too. The following two sessions were dedicated to the work of the national groups on creating project proposals and implementing the aspects of the PPM framework.

DAY 3

The third day started with deeper elaborating on the topic of youth participation in the context of sustainable agriculture. The participants had the possibility to learn more about MIJARC Europe’s best practices, policies developed during the years and fruitful partnerships. Next, the participants used the Kent Mcdonald’s Stakeholder Map graphic method, modified according to the project’s specifics and the session. The session helped the teams get a clear idea of their strengths and weaknesses in implementing future participatory projects and their interactions with different stakeholders. The third and fourth sessions were dedicated to sharing expertise and creating project proposals in national group work with the support of an external expert from KLJB Germany. At the end of the third day was the International evening of MIJARC Europe. The virtual cultural event was facilitated in an interactive and fun way by the facilitators. The national groups had to present 10 unknown fun facts about their countries and play their favourite song. At the end of every presentation, there was a time for questions and answers, so the participants could understand more about each country’s culture and traditions.

”It was a nice project! The hybrid method is really challenging and it’s not easy organizing such activity so all of your efforts are very appreciated 🙂 You did a really nice job after all and I’m looking forward to the next projects!!! Love you guys”

participant to the Winter Camp

DAY 4

The winter camp’s last day started with presenting the national groups’ projects proposals. Each group presented their proposals and received feedback with some ideas for implementation. Most of the groups had successfully applied the PPM framework and addressed the issues related to sustainable agriculture that could be beneficial for their societies. The following session was dedicated to a presentation on applying for grant opportunities and finance their project proposals. That session helped the participants increase their knowledge of the actual funding opportunities they can use to finance their project ideas, better understand fundraising at the European level, and be more confident in finding the resources for implementing their projects. The Winter camp ended with an evaluation and planning future steps session. The planning activity aimed to encourage the participants to foresee some possible deadlines, make a calendar with activities, and be more engaged with the two main topics of the Winter camp – Participatory Project Management and Sustainable agriculture.

The main outputs of the hybrid seminar are seven project proposals tackling the problems identified during the local visits and discussed during the Winter camp, including the examples of the experts. All the participants created action plans that are expected to be shared with their boards or executive bodies of the organisations. The resource pack with all the training materials, CoE manuals and detailed information for the EYF, the presentations and the materials as websites of the organisations and their projects, useful links to different institutions and contacts shared by the experts were sent to the participants after the activity. The participants also shared information and media content about the activity on different social platforms.

Main learning outcomes:

  • 100% of the participants indicated they knew the participatory project methodology to a good or to a great extent
  • more than 90% felt they knew how to design a youth participatory project increased knowledge on sustainable agriculture and funding available for youth projects

I think everything was useful for all of us. I am sure that such programs will continue, at least locally. I was most interested in the involvement of young people in youth work, but the other topics were also very useful. Thanks for everything.

participant to the winter camp

Outputs:

Miro Board

The third and final activity included in our work plan on 2020, the international summer camp ”Cultivating youth participation” was carried out in a hybrid format, in February 2021, with participants meeting in national groups or connecting exclusively online. In spite of almost one year of continuous uncertainty, endless online meetings and fluctuating periods of hope and fear, the winter camp was a vibrant activity that brought a concrete and significant finality to the activities planned for 2021.

The hybrid winter camp „Cultivating youth participation” was the third activity included in the our work plan „Rock, paper, participation” which is co-funded by the European Youth Foundation of the Council of Europe, Renovabis and the European Commission.

The winter camp was organised between 20-23 February 2021, after going through a significant risk of not being organised at all. Luckily the new Board members of MIJARC Europe decided to take the risk of postponing the activity for 2021 and made efforts to encourage our member movements to organise residential national groups or select participants to connect online. Our movements from Armenia, Bulgaria, Georgia and Romania organised in person events, while the participanta in Belgium, Germany and Malta connected online. A group of 61 registered participants, representing 7 European countries joined the activity. 43 of them attended the winter camp for its entire duration.

The general aim was to increase participants’ knowledge on how to design, plan and manage participatory projects aimed at increasing the level of participation of their peers in decision-making and in policy development about sustainable agriculture at local level. The main tool was the participatory project methodlogy (PPM) proposed in the “Have your say” Manual. The PPM provided the backbone for designing real, concrete projects addresing at least one of the issues related to youth involvement in agriculture that had previously been identified during the local visits.

Almost 90% of the participants declared in the formal evaluation forms their satisfaction and increased motivation to ecourage the participation of their peers in decision-making and in policy development about sustainable agriculture at the local level. More than 80% of the participants felt that the activity had achieved all three of its major objectives, namely:

81% of the participants shared that they have participated and felt included during the activities. One of the factors that made this possible was the local facilitators’ presence and contribution. Another factor was the work in small groups in a virtual environment and instant feedback given by the team of educators and facilitators.

DAY 1

The first day of the activity started with a session in which the participants had the opportunity to get to know each other and the educational team, as well. The second session of the first day aimed to introduce the work done by MIJARC Europe and its member organisations until the moment and give an overview of the previous activities on the local level. The third session was an introductory session for the topics of Youth participation and the Revised European Charter On The Participation Of Young People In Local And Regional Life. As there were participants with different experience and background on youth work and youth empowerment, the session also aimed to ensure that all of the participants are on the same page and have the same understanding of the key concepts of participation and youth work. The participants were introduced to a couple of definitions of youth participation given in the Charter. After discussing and creating the « working definition », the participants were divided into two small groups and introduced to the six-step-model of using the Charter and the RMSOS approach, also provided in the “Have your say!”  manual of the CoE. The fourth session was dedicated to the Participatory Project Methodology. Besides the questions of the participants, additional value to the session came from the first-hand experience and examples shared by the local facilitators and the educational team.

DAY 2

The first session of the second day introduced the Participatory Project Methodology (PPM) framework in details. The session was build based on the information shared on the “Have your say!” manual and T-Kit 3: Project Management of the CoE. The second session was dedicated to sustainable agriculture and youth empowerment, with Janna Herzig, a young expert, presenting two projects: La Bolina (Spain) and Solawi Köln (Germany). By presenting the projects, the expert emphasised the vital role of youth participation in the management and the CSA model as a positive alternative, too. The following two sessions were dedicated to the work of the national groups on creating project proposals and implementing the aspects of the PPM framework.

DAY 3

The third day started with deeper elaborating on the topic of youth participation in the context of sustainable agriculture. The participants had the possibility to learn more about MIJARC Europe’s best practices, policies developed during the years and fruitful partnerships. Next, the participants used the Kent Mcdonald’s Stakeholder Map graphic method, modified according to the project’s specifics and the session. The session helped the teams get a clear idea of their strengths and weaknesses in implementing future participatory projects and their interactions with different stakeholders. The third and fourth sessions were dedicated to sharing expertise and creating project proposals in national group work with the support of an external expert from KLJB Germany. At the end of the third day was the International evening of MIJARC Europe. The virtual cultural event was facilitated in an interactive and fun way by the facilitators. The national groups had to present 10 unknown fun facts about their countries and play their favourite song. At the end of every presentation, there was a time for questions and answers, so the participants could understand more about each country’s culture and traditions.

”It was a nice project! The hybrid method is really challenging and it’s not easy organizing such activity so all of your efforts are very appreciated 🙂 You did a really nice job after all and I’m looking forward to the next projects!!! Love you guys”

participant to the Winter Camp

DAY 4

The winter camp’s last day started with presenting the national groups’ projects proposals. Each group presented their proposals and received feedback with some ideas for implementation. Most of the groups had successfully applied the PPM framework and addressed the issues related to sustainable agriculture that could be beneficial for their societies. The following session was dedicated to a presentation on applying for grant opportunities and finance their project proposals. That session helped the participants increase their knowledge of the actual funding opportunities they can use to finance their project ideas, better understand fundraising at the European level, and be more confident in finding the resources for implementing their projects. The Winter camp ended with an evaluation and planning future steps session. The planning activity aimed to encourage the participants to foresee some possible deadlines, make a calendar with activities, and be more engaged with the two main topics of the Winter camp – Participatory Project Management and Sustainable agriculture.

The main outputs of the hybrid seminar are seven project proposals tackling the problems identified during the local visits and discussed during the Winter camp, including the examples of the experts. All the participants created action plans that are expected to be shared with their boards or executive bodies of the organisations. The resource pack with all the training materials, CoE manuals and detailed information for the EYF, the presentations and the materials as websites of the organisations and their projects, useful links to different institutions and contacts shared by the experts were sent to the participants after the activity. The participants also shared information and media content about the activity on different social platforms.

Main learning outcomes:

  • 100% of the participants indicated they knew the participatory project methodology to a good or to a great extent
  • more than 90% felt they knew how to design a youth participatory project increased knowledge on sustainable agriculture and funding available for youth projects

I think everything was useful for all of us. I am sure that such programs will continue, at least locally. I was most interested in the involvement of young people in youth work, but the other topics were also very useful. Thanks for everything.

participant to the winter camp

Outputs:

Miro Board

Our second international activity of the year was carried out in a hybrid format with participants meeting in national groups or connecting exclusively online to create a diverse, joyful and motivated group of young people who managed to learn from and inspire each other despite the global pandemic.

”The topic is really actual. We have so many things to do to find right solutions. There are really a lot of similar problems connected to agriculture all over the world.”

– participant to the seminar

The hybrid seminar and youth lab „Youth Participating by a hectare” was the second activity included in the our work plan „Rock, paper, participation” which is co-funded by the European Youth Foundation of the Council of Europe, and the first international youth lab of the #OurFoodOurFuture project, co-funded by the European Commission and Renovabis.

The seminar and youth lab took place between 3-6 December 2020, after it had been postponed from July to September and then postponed again to the end of the year, when the restrictions imposed by the pandemic across Europe, allowed some of the participating counties to organise face to face meetings. In Armenia, Bulgaria and Georgia our local movements were able to meet in national groups for 4 days and connected with their peers from Belgium, Germany, France, Malta and Romania via Zoom. A group of 44 registered participants, representing 8 European countries joined the activity. 37 of them attended the seminar and youth lab for its entire duration.

The general aim was for participants and their organisations to leave the seminar with concrete measures and practices that they could use in order to increase the extent to which young people get involved in agricultural policies at local level. It also focused on a transformation at individual level, as participants were expected to enter the activity as mere consumers and leave as informed people who know the problems and know where to act to contribute to change them.

With the help of many online tools such as Miro, Mentimeter, Genial.ly, Canva and a lot of creativity, the team of facilitators managed to create an effective hybrid educational activity that increased the participants’ knowledge on sustainable agriculture, its processes and activities (35 out of 37 participants) and on the Revised European Charter on the Participation of Young People in Local and Regional Life (30 participants).

The most useful thing I learnt was how to use the Charter to engage youth in agricultural policies.

participant to the seminar

The activity started with a warm-up evening during which get-to-know-each-other games, exercises and songs brightened the atmosphere and gave a nice introduction on how the hybrid seminar would be led. The facilitators explained the ground rules, helped the participants who had technical difficulties, clarified their roles and tested all the tools that would be used throughout the seminar. The group was happy to welcome Margit Barna from the European Youth Foundation who played a fun quiz about the EYF and the Council of Europe.

On the second day the participants were introduced into the topic of youth participation, food production and agriculture and started their day with a visit to a virtual museum where the priorities identified in each country during the local visits, within the first phase of the work plan, were displayed. Starting from there the participants went on to mapping the realities in their countries guided by questions such as:

  1. What are the main agricultural productions in your country? Give 3 examples.
  2. Point out 3 biggest problems in agriculture caused by climate change in your country and explain how the governments try to solve those problems. 
  3. What is the role of women and young people in agriculture?

The day ended with an offline guided tour and national work groups in which the participants started writing down priorities in their countries and formulating them as objectives in the National Action Plan template prepared by the team of facilitators on Miro. Last but not least, the evening programme took the participants through an escape room where they had to crack a code by working as a team and performing multiple challenges: such as calming a crying baby, playing memory games, signing songs and impressing a mad clown.

The third day was dedicated to three practical workshops on: soil, animal walfare and water and land grabbing. Each workshop was led either by one of the trainers or a guest speaker and oferred specific information, examples and reflection exercises on each of three topics. The day ended with a participatory workshop during which the participants summarised each topic in a mind map. Then the facilitators conducted a virtual world cafe in order to allow participants to discuss connections among the three workshop topics and a collection of European best practices.

Water talks to me, I speak for water. I didn’t get support and I was called crazy, but I never gave up. What I can always do is to continue with my determination and do whater is possible, whatever you are good at.

Ranjan Panda

The fourth and final day relied on emotions, engagement and inspiration to continue the work and take the results of the hybrid seminar a step further. A spiritual impulse created the perfect start for an imaginative exercise that took participants into the future and invited them to reflect about the seminar. Next, the participants had to prepare a 30-second elevator-pitch to deliver to the Commissioner for Agriculture, whom the meet by chance while taking the elevator to the MIJARc Europe office. Want to see or hear what our participants had to say? Here are their recordings: elevator pitches.

The main outputs of the hybrid seminar are the eight national action plans, focusing on increasing youth participation in agricultural policies and tackling the most stringent needs related to agriculture that the participants identified in their countries. The action plans are the basis for the development of the project proposal during the next international activity – the winter camp “Cultivating youth participation’.

Main learning outcomes:

  • increased knowledge on the Revised European Charter on the Participation of Young People at local and regional level
  • increased awareness on the situation of women in agriculture
  • almost 90% of the participants declared that they knew more about sustainable agriculture, food supply chains and about agriculture in the other participant countries as a consequence of having attended the seminar

“I want to discover what offline MIJARC is! I want to travel outside my country to meet you! Online MIJARC seminar was the best you could have done considering the circumstances, big up for the organisation team!

participant to the seminar

Outputs:

Miro Board

Our second international activity of the year was carried out in a hybrid format with participants meeting in national groups or connecting exclusively online to create a diverse, joyful and motivated group of young people who managed to learn from and inspire each other despite the global pandemic.

”The topic is really actual. We have so many things to do to find right solutions. There are really a lot of similar problems connected to agriculture all over the world.”

– participant to the seminar

The hybrid seminar and youth lab „Youth Participating by a hectare” was the second activity included in the our work plan „Rock, paper, participation” which is co-funded by the European Youth Foundation of the Council of Europe, and the first international youth lab of the #OurFoodOurFuture project, co-funded by the European Commission and Renovabis.

The seminar and youth lab took place between 3-6 December 2020, after it had been postponed from July to September and then postponed again to the end of the year, when the restrictions imposed by the pandemic across Europe, allowed some of the participating counties to organise face to face meetings. In Armenia, Bulgaria and Georgia our local movements were able to meet in national groups for 4 days and connected with their peers from Belgium, Germany, France, Malta and Romania via Zoom. A group of 44 registered participants, representing 8 European countries joined the activity. 37 of them attended the seminar and youth lab for its entire duration.

The general aim was for participants and their organisations to leave the seminar with concrete measures and practices that they could use in order to increase the extent to which young people get involved in agricultural policies at local level. It also focused on a transformation at individual level, as participants were expected to enter the activity as mere consumers and leave as informed people who know the problems and know where to act to contribute to change them.

With the help of many online tools such as Miro, Mentimeter, Genial.ly, Canva and a lot of creativity, the team of facilitators managed to create an effective hybrid educational activity that increased the participants’ knowledge on sustainable agriculture, its processes and activities (35 out of 37 participants) and on the Revised European Charter on the Participation of Young People in Local and Regional Life (30 participants).

The most useful thing I learnt was how to use the Charter to engage youth in agricultural policies.

participant to the seminar

The activity started with a warm-up evening during which get-to-know-each-other games, exercises and songs brightened the atmosphere and gave a nice introduction on how the hybrid seminar would be led. The facilitators explained the ground rules, helped the participants who had technical difficulties, clarified their roles and tested all the tools that would be used throughout the seminar. The group was happy to welcome Margit Barna from the European Youth Foundation who played a fun quiz about the EYF and the Council of Europe.

On the second day the participants were introduced into the topic of youth participation, food production and agriculture and started their day with a visit to a virtual museum where the priorities identified in each country during the local visits, within the first phase of the work plan, were displayed. Starting from there the participants went on to mapping the realities in their countries guided by questions such as:

  1. What are the main agricultural productions in your country? Give 3 examples.
  2. Point out 3 biggest problems in agriculture caused by climate change in your country and explain how the governments try to solve those problems. 
  3. What is the role of women and young people in agriculture?

The day ended with an offline guided tour and national work groups in which the participants started writing down priorities in their countries and formulating them as objectives in the National Action Plan template prepared by the team of facilitators on Miro. Last but not least, the evening programme took the participants through an escape room where they had to crack a code by working as a team and performing multiple challenges: such as calming a crying baby, playing memory games, signing songs and impressing a mad clown.

The third day was dedicated to three practical workshops on: soil, animal walfare and water and land grabbing. Each workshop was led either by one of the trainers or a guest speaker and oferred specific information, examples and reflection exercises on each of three topics. The day ended with a participatory workshop during which the participants summarised each topic in a mind map. Then the facilitators conducted a virtual world cafe in order to allow participants to discuss connections among the three workshop topics and a collection of European best practices.

Water talks to me, I speak for water. I didn’t get support and I was called crazy, but I never gave up. What I can always do is to continue with my determination and do whater is possible, whatever you are good at.

Ranjan Panda

The fourth and final day relied on emotions, engagement and inspiration to continue the work and take the results of the hybrid seminar a step further. A spiritual impulse created the perfect start for an imaginative exercise that took participants into the future and invited them to reflect about the seminar. Next, the participants had to prepare a 30-second elevator-pitch to deliver to the Commissioner for Agriculture, whom the meet by chance while taking the elevator to the MIJARc Europe office. Want to see or hear what our participants had to say? Here are their recordings: elevator pitches.

The main outputs of the hybrid seminar are the eight national action plans, focusing on increasing youth participation in agricultural policies and tackling the most stringent needs related to agriculture that the participants identified in their countries. The action plans are the basis for the development of the project proposal during the next international activity – the winter camp “Cultivating youth participation’.

Main learning outcomes:

  • increased knowledge on the Revised European Charter on the Participation of Young People at local and regional level
  • increased awareness on the situation of women in agriculture
  • almost 90% of the participants declared that they knew more about sustainable agriculture, food supply chains and about agriculture in the other participant countries as a consequence of having attended the seminar

“I want to discover what offline MIJARC is! I want to travel outside my country to meet you! Online MIJARC seminar was the best you could have done considering the circumstances, big up for the organisation team!

participant to the seminar

Outputs:

Miro Board

Here we are, September has arrived. All over Europe children are going back to school, students are going back to university and adults are going back to work, even if for many of us it is teleworking.

Another thing ends at the same time as August, the sea and the vacations: our Grow It Yourself challenge. Together we planted our fruit and vegetables for 5 months. In order to celebrate this accomplishment, here is a little feedback from some of the participants and organizers:

“I am very proud of the three strawberries and one mini zucchini I had on my balcony this summer! I have to admit that it was all I managed to grew but they were awesome 😉 In general I am more thankful for the farmers who manage to feed some much people by working hard and in difficult conditions (work, weather etc.)”

Claire.

“I was in charge of editing the photos for the duration of our campaign, what a pleasure it was to receive pictures of small seeds in April, and to see these same seeds become vegetables on the plates of the participants this summer. We really did something rewarding!

Manon.

Grow it Yourself was by far the most satisfying challenge I took this year. It was a very rewarding feeling to be see my own vegetables growing. Productive, efficient and self motivating, Grow It yourself is indeed a challenge i would gladly take every year!

Sara.

This challenge has brought me closer to my roots and to my childhood. As a child I used to help my family in their farm and I spent most of my summer holidays outside, in the scorching sun, bare feet on the ground and eating whatever was ripe. I particularly remember watering the onion beds, because I could soak my feet in the ice-cold water that filled the onion beds and use my small hoe to direct the water wherever I wanted. I have not felt more in control than I felt then. I realised that there is a lot of land in my yard that we now use to grow green grass and we put considerable effort into having a manicured lawn, so I start ”taking back” the land and growing herbs, such as the ones I need on a daily basis. I realised that I was spending a lot of money on things that I could grow myself, and exclude the waste that comes together with buying herbs in plastic pots and without any of the chemicals that keep them looking fresh under the artificial light of the supermarkets. I also discovered a lot of gardening enthusiasts around me and we started exchanging goods we grow ourselves. My mint, basil, dill and sage were exchanged for fennel, cherry tomatoes and cranberries. The challenge has also brought my son closer to gardening. The look on his face when the first dill threads came out is the most memorable image of this challenge. There are so many things that will stay with me but the most simple, yet powerful of the conclusions is that we have all we need as long as we have soil, water, sun and good health.

Florina.

It’s safe to say we enjoy our GIY adventure here at MIJARC Europe! If we were to launch the same campaign next year, would you follow us in this journey?

Do you know that feeling of fulfilment when you have done something right, something that had impact and brought joy in the hearts of people? Well, that is exactly how we felt after the ”Youth participating by a hectarewebinar.

Ever since our summer activities were postponed and meeting our friends from abroad in person turned into an intention scheduled for ”whenever it will be possible again”, we started toying with the idea of doing something that would still bring us a piece of the excitement and satisfaction our traditional summer seminar did.

Our international webinar ”Youth participating by a hectare” managed to achieve all that and more. Scheduled on the 22nd July, when we had planned to be in France, visiting several local farms and agricultural initiatives, the webinar gathered young people and experts on agriculture who discussed the challenges young people face when it comes to getting involved in this field.

”No race can prosper till it learns there is as much dignity in tilling a field as in writing a poem

Booker T. Washington

Although it was not initially included as an activity, the international webinar became part of our annual work plan “Rock, Paper, Participation“. The work plan focuses on seeing-judging-acting on how young people get involved in the dialogue on agricultural policies and on how they take part to sustainable agricultural practices.

The Rock, paper, participation” annual work plan is co-funded by the European Youth Foundation of the Council of Europe and the European Union.

The webinar gathered more than 60 participants out of the 91 who registered for it. They were all young people from one of the member organisations of MIJARC Europe, representing 8 European countries.

The 3,5 hour agenda was intense but time just flew by once the experts started talking about education and knowledge in the agricultural field, green jobs, agricultural policies and shared their personal stories of getting involved in the field.

Personal story always say something individual and different. They inspires us and give us motivation. If someone made it possible, we can also make it real.

pARTICIPANT TO THE WEBINAR

The webinar looked at agriculture from three perspectives: access to knowledge, information, and education, access to green jobs and engagement in agricultural policies. A study carried out by MIJARC World, FAO and IFA in 2011 revealed several challenges young people faced in the agricultural field and provided solutions for them. Almost ten years later, we wanted to analyse some of the challenges listed in the study, which are relevant for young people in Europe today, and look at them to see if they are still the same or what progress has been made so far.

The webinar was split in four session: an introductory session, two rounds of discussion groups and a common session to draw the conclusions.

Session 1: Access to knowledge, information, and education & access to green jobs

The session began with asking the participants where they learnt about food and agriculture related issues and the poll revealed that most of then had learnt about these by means of their own research.

The first guest speaker was Russ Carrington, a former chairman of Rural Youth Europe, who is currently a farmer practicing regenerative agriculture in the United Kingdom. He joined the call directly from his farm and made a presentation about his life journey. He spoke about why he decided to go back to full-time farming like his parents, after having left to study Civil Engineering to follow a different career. During the Q&A Russ received many questions from the participants. The questions were about whether agriculture and farming is presented in schools as a viable option; about his opinion on the current and future situation of agriculture; about whether he could use his Civil Engineering knowledge in farming; and also about technical issues such as what is meant by sustainable agriculture and what is the role of GMO.

The second guest speaker was Doris Letina, the vice president from CEJA Young Farmers, who is a farmer cultivating apples in Slovenia. She firstly asked the participants to describe ”Green Jobs” in one word using the Mentimeter application.

Some participants were then asked to elaborate on their chosen word, such as “conservation”, “responsibility” and “ethical”. Doris went on to giving a small presentation of what is understood as Green Jobs. Having received some inputs, the participants were then asked the questions: “What are we missing to have Green Jobs?”. This generated some interesting discussions and opinions such as the importance of public awareness, funding and change of societal values. Some participants came back to the importance of access to education, connecting to what was discussed in the first part of the session.

Session 2: Access and engagement of young people in policy dialogue

The session started by defining what is a policy dialogue by asking the participants to choose one picture out of four.

The choice of picture was partly different in the two sessions, but most of the participants chose pictures with young people working together at a table or discussion together. The session had two guest speakers: Jannes Maes, president of CEJA and Daniela Ordowski, board member of MIJARC Europe. Both of them underlined that engagement in policy dialogue is a process. The first step of it is to get organized with other people and define together what is the position shared by everyone and to agree on one message to communicate.

Further, the participants were asked if they had ever taken part in a policy dialogue and to share their experience about it, especially the issues and challenges they had. Some of the participants mentioned that they had never taken part in any dialogue on policies. They had the opinion that if young people do not search actively for such opportunities, they will not have the chance to take part in them. Others said that being in that session was already a step towards being active in policy dialogue. Jannes agreed that sometimes you have to ask for a place and this is not easy, but in general youth are then welcomed, because stakeholders and politicians know that they need the opinion of young people. For established organisations like CEJA or MIJARC Europe it is easier to be involved as an organisation than it is to join the dialogue as an individual. Youth organisations are crucial for the representation of young people.

Conclusions

During the final session, the participants reflected on the discussions they had in the discussion groups and a summary of the main points was made.

Finally a list of priorities identified during the webinar was made and the participants ranked them. The lack of education or its availability only in urban areas was the challenge most of young placed at the top, closely followed by the fact that youth in environmental protection is not a priority for governments these days and the fact the rural areas and farming are not given enough prominence in policies, media and on social networks.

The priorities identified by the participants during the webinar will be collected together with those identified during the local visits in each country and will serve as the basis for the upcoming international activities. During the next phase of the work plan, the participants will develop concrete action plans to address the priorities. The action plans will be the main working tool for the third activity, when participants will create project proposals to help with the implementation of at least one measure included in the action plans.

The webinar was a very successful activity judging by the results of the evaluation form and the testimonials given by the participants.

This webinar was very useful. Before this I didn’t even know that people like you are actually trying to solve problems like this one, the involvement of young people into agriculture and the development of rural spaces. The most useful thing that I have learnt is that with topics like this, there is still hope from the younger generations and I think that I have actually found some inspiration to speak out on what I want to say something, because until now I was too shy and I didn’t think that people really want to hear what someone like me would want to say.

Participant

On a personal level, I could relate my own education and life with the experiences that one of the speakers talked about. He inspired me to use most of the engineering and problem-solving capabilities to get involved in sustainable agriculture.

Participant

YouthLabs are participatory activities (online / offline format) to involve YOUNG Europeans in the design process of our pan-European campaign strategy.

MIJARC Europe is responsible for organizing, within its network, 3 National Level YouthLabs and 5 International Level YouthLabs.

The first national youth lab of our #GoEAThical project was carried out in online format, in Romania together, with our member organization Asociația Asistență și Programe pentru Dezvoltare Durabilă – Agenda 21.

The activity took place in online format on the 5th of June 2020. It lasted around three hours.

42 young people, were selected among the network of global education schools of APSD-Agenda 21. They worked together with Mr. Daniel Alexandru – head of the Laboratory on Agrometeorology– from the Romania National Institute of Meteorology, and our colleague Florina Potîrniche as facilitator.

Using the SEE-JUDGE-ACT methodology, participants were able to go through different questions such as: What is climate change? // Is Earth’s Climate Changing? // What Is Causing Earth’s Climate to Change? // What Might Happen to Earth’s Climate? // How does it affect the production of food? // Conventional agriculture vs. Organic agriculture?

Later on, after summarizing the discussion and highlighting the interconnection of food production and climate change and the main impacts climate change has on different parts of the world, the participants analysed a case study, which was based on real facts –The impact of the El Niño drought in 2016 on one family in Lesotho

Through this case, participants were able to see how climate change affects the normal weather and climate patterns. The result was a severe drought that lasted since 2015 until 2016. This led to food supplies constantly decreasing, the price of food increasing and ultimately the poorest population not able to ensure they daily food. This led to poverty, hunger, the urgent need for humanitarian support and massive migration.

All the young participants could reflect on the negative impacts of climate change, and in different groups, they went into the ACT part. Divided in breakout rooms of 4-5 people they went through an exercise to design some elements for the #GoEAThical campaign. The youth participants participants discussed and created different proposals of messages for the campaign, topics for the campaign, as well as different activities to be carried out.

They produced really interesting ideas!

Here you can read some of the comments from the young participants gathered during the evaluation:

 I really liked that I interacted and came up with many different ideas. I learned new things about climate change and what we can do to make it better

I liked this lab because I learned a lot of new things. The most useful thing I found out is the connection between climate change and migration

Participating in this laboratory helped me to become more aware of why it is important for each of us to have a responsible attitude towards the environment and what are the consequences of reckless long-term actions on the climate and especially food production. Change begins with each of us!

Change for the better and  feel good about it”

For those of us who have tried to plant vegetables in our gardens, it is clear that what at first seems easy often turns out to be an arduous task. In just a few days, the young fresh vegetables you’ve planted are infested with many species of insects, pests and birds.

How does this work for those whose job it is? Let’s compare what happens in the fields and in greenhouses.

Field farming

Field cultivation is the traditional method of farming. To be successful, the soil must be rich in nutrients, free of disease, have a balanced pH and be of good composition. Environmental risk management is paramount to achieve the highest probability of success. Generous applications of pesticides, insecticides, fungicides and herbicides are often necessary to keep plants alive. We often hesitate to buy pesticides for our garden because we know the impact they can have on our health and the environment, but we don’t necessarily think about it when we buy vegetables at the market or order a salad from a restaurant.

Greenhouses

Greenhouses allow you to control the environment in which your crops grow. Not only do they protect against insects and birds, but they also allow you to better control temperature, humidity, irrigation and light. You can create the right conditions for your plants to thrive, without using harmful pesticides, to ensure the sanitary quality of your vegetables. If you are considering becoming a commercial grower, by using a greenhouse, you can actually predict the expected yield and analyze the variables of plant growth.

And of course, growing fruits and vegetables in a greenhouse doesn’t mean that your garden should look like the Almeria desert with its endless landscapes of plastic greenhouses. No! You can create a small greenhouse and make your tarpaulin from polyethylene obtained from sugar cane crops.