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

Designing the campaign with young people

What is wrong with our current food system? Who is responsible for it? What are the many areas directly affected by its functioning? What can we do to change this? These are, among many others, the numerous questions that the actors of the #GoEAThical project are asking themselves and that we wish to answer together with the young people.

On the 28th of September, MIJARC Europe, in collaboration with other organisations of the #GoEAThical project consortium, organised an online session with young people from all across Europe, in order to reflect with them on the development of the campaign that will be launched. 48 participants attended this session.

The #GoEAThical project foresees the holding of different YouthLabs (at national and international levels) so that young people can take part in the development of the campaign and the project. However, the sanitary circumstances we are experiencing have significantly slowed down and then prevented the holding of these YouthLabs. In order to ensure that young people can still have their say, we thought of this session.

Learn how to design a campaign with our expert Julius

Julius van de Laar is a campaign and strategy consultant with many years of international campaign experience. During Barack Obama’s presidential campaign of 2007 and 2008, Julius was a full-time US presidential campaigner for him.

Julius is therefore our advisor in the implementation of the campaign for the #GoEAThical project. He was of course invited to this session, in order to briefly introduce the participants to the basics of running a campaign. Among the many keys he gave, Julius explained that a good campaign should be like a good story: to arouse emotions in people. Using this metaphor, he invited participants to reflect among themselves on what stirs up emotions of anger and indignation in them about the way the current food system works. He then proposed to them to name the actors of this system who could be considered as the villains of the story, being largely responsible for the inequalities denounced by the participants.

Highly invested and creative participants

“It was great meeting, I learnt a lot, and not only about campaign but also about how to do a very good online meeting and discussion. Thank you a lot!” Here is one of the feedback we received after we proposed to the participants to give us their views on the session using an online survey.

And indeed, the participants who were divided into 8 groups through breakout sessions, were particularly productive, not only in naming the injustices and actors involved in maintaining this unfair system, but also in proposing solutions and tactics to change it.

You can take a look below at their many proposals, which they managed to formulate in a very short space of time as the session lasted only two hours.

Participants wrote down their ideas on a miroboard.

This session was of course only an outline, to reflect with young people on national, European and international issues concerning the food system and learning the basics of a large-scale campaign. But there will still be many steps in the design of the campaign and we look forward to continuing to work with young people, both those who attended this session and new ones, for further discussion and debate.

This publication has been produced with the financial assistance of the European Union. The contents of this document are the sole responsibility of MIJARC Europe and can under no circumstances be regarded as reflecting the position of the European Union.

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

On 4th June 2020, our member organisation APSD-Agenda 21 from Romania organised the third local visit planned among the activities of MIJARC Europe’s 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.

Following the introduction of the lockdown measures of the COVID-19 pandemic across almost all European countries, several of MIJARC Europe’s member organisations decided to organise the local visits as national webinars. The team of MIJARC Europe designed a webinar format based on online tools and assisted the member organisation in implementing their activities online in line with the objective of the work plan. APSD-Agenda 21 was the first member organisation that hosted a national webinar instead of a local visit to a farm, but the event was useful, effective and well received by the participants.

Organising the event online as a webinar gave the advantage of having more than 12 participants and making it a national rather than a local event. APSD-Agenda 21 spread the call in its national network and finally 66 participants from five counties in Romania attended the webinar.

The webinar was led on Zoom and included a balanced mix of theoretical input and practical exercises that made the activity dynamic and interesting for the participants. First, they got the chance to know each other better through a set of four questions that invited them raise there hand if during the lockdown period that had:

  • taken part to a challenge on social media
  • listened to a podcast
  • baked something for the first time
  • attended online meetings while still wearing their pyjamas

The next block on the agenda was dedicated to agriculture and aimed at bringing the young participants closer to agricultural practices and to understanding how agriculture is done in their country and in Europe. Based on the study on youth involvement in agriculture that MIJARC Europe published specially for this visit, the participants found out that:

  • 56% of the EU citizens live in rural areas;
  • there are almost 12 million farmers in the EU, with only 29% of the farmer owners being women and only 5% being young than 35 years old;
  • Romania is the largest producer of sunflower in the EU;
  • 33% of Romania’s active population work in the agricultural sector.

After the general introduction to the topic of agriculture, the participants had the chance to discuss with one of the leading experts on agriculture in Romania, Mr. Vînătoru Costel – head of the plant gene bank in Buzau and horticulture engineer at the Plant Research and Development Station in Buzau-Romania. The discussion focused on practices used in sustainable agriculture, the phases a product goes through from the moment it is just a seed to the moment we can consume it, several projects of the research station, the expert personal motivation to study agricultural and work in the field, the Common Agricultural policy and who implements it in Romania, ways to involve young people in agriculture and the main problems farmers face in Romania.

The second part of the meeting focused on youth involvement in policies and especially in agricultural policies. While the participants had some idea about what a policy is, almost none of them had ever been involved in a structured dialogue process ir was aware of how young people could influence a policy.

Next, the participants explored the Common Agricultural Policy and the way it is implemented in Romania and were introduced to the Revised European Charter on the Participation of Young People in Local and Regional Life (the Charter) They went through the six-step implementation model, the principles of the Charter, the ladder of participation and the RMSOS approach and were very pleased to see that there was an instrument that could guide them towards getting involved in policies at local and regional level.

Revised Charter

The evaluation session revealed the fact that the participants found the webinar very useful and interesting and discovered a multitude of tools they could use to get involved.

On 14th March 2020, our member organisation Umbrella from Georgia organised the second local visit planned among the activities of MIJARC Europe’s 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.

Umbrella gathered 13 of their young members and took them on a visit to Asureti Village and to Tetritskaro Youth Center. Firstly, they visited a farm and a greenhouses that belonged to the young farmer Gocha Apciauri, located in Asureti village. He presented his farm, the technologies he used and engaged he participants in an experiential learning activity inviting them to harvest vegetables. The discussion with the farmers focused on the challenges that he faced in his daily live as a farmer and the agricultural works.

The second half of the day was spent at Tetritskaro Youth Center, where the participants explored the “ladder of Participation”, the “triangle of cooperation”, worked in groups and used non-formal learning methods to identify challenges/barriers young people face if they want to get involved in the dialogue on agricultural policies.

They based their work on the study on youth involvement in agriculture – the case of Georgia – published by MIJARC Europe especially for this visit and the Revised European Charter on the Participation of Young People in Local and Regional Life (the Charter)

Revised Charter

According to participants their involvement in agricultural policy at local level is extremely low. They were not aware of the possibilities and mechanisms of participation in decision-making process at local level. None of them had ever taken part in discussions on farming issue or had been invited to the local Sakrebulo (local legislative body) meetings. In addition to this, despite the fact that representatives of two local municipalities (Tetrsitskaro and Marneuli) were invited to the meeting, none of them sent representatives.

The young participants decided that the priorities they should focus on at local level should be:

  • Information – access to information is the top priority as quite often the information is on websites but it is not proactively published or spread in the municipality. It also considers the accessibility to internet as it is not developed in rural area.
  • Motivation – low level of motivation or nihilism among youth and non-responsive local authorities. The priority is to raise the level of motivation among young people.
  • Language barrier – in the communities with ethnic minorities (Armenians, Azerbaijanis) in some cases they face language barriers as they lack of knowledge of state language. Translation of information into native languages.
  • Political will – promoting (advocating) political will among local authorities and awareness about the positive sides of involvement of young farmers in agricultural policy development process.


On 7th March 2020, our member organisation Federation of Youth Clubs of Armenia (FYCA), organised the first local visit planned within the activities of MIJARC Europe’s 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.

FYCA took the young participants to visit several agricultural farms in Nor Geghi (Kotayk province), Armenia.

The visits started with several meetings with local youth representatives and local & regional authorities. At first, the attendees discussed the current situation and existing challenges facing the youth in the region and explored the facts and issues raised by the study on youth involvement in agriculture done by MIJARC Europe.

Later, it was time to start the meetings with the farmers located in the region. The local visit to several agricultural farms in Armenia gathered 25 young volunteers and members from the organization, and also representatives from local and regional authorities from Kotayk province, Armenia.

Prior to the visit, the organization contacted the provincial administration representatives of Kotayk region through FYCA regional coordinator, Mari Hovakimyan. The visit was co-organized by the head of Nor Geghi community, Vardan Papyan and his administrative team.

The field visit started from “Green” intensive apple orchards, where farmers’ staff presented the basics of the fruit cultivation. The participants explored all the stages of producing apples: starting from the basic steps of orchard establishment and development to packing the ready-steady fruits for consumption. The apple orchards have been established in Nor Geghi community in 2016 and currently cover nearly 30 hectares, with the goal of expanding the area by 20 hectares in the nearest future. In addition to apple trees, pear, plum and cherry trees will also be planted there.

It is also interesting to know that the intensive orchards are harvested earlier than traditional orchards. In case of intensive orchards, up to ten times more seedlings are planted on 1 hectare of land. The farm grows a huge variety of apples and each of them is different in its own way.

Having explored the techniques and logistics of the production, it was time to carry out the second visit in the region. The next farm was a fishpond, belonging to “Ninel” LLC and providing employment opportunities to locals.

Afterwards, the team headed to the third well-known farm, “Lusakert” poultry factory. During the visit, the team got acquainted with the bird breeding conditions and technical equipment of the cultivation. As the factory staff informed, the chickens are kept in exclusively natural and ecological conditions, thus providing ecologically pure and nutritious products.

Revised Charter

The information gained during the visits were later on used to discuss about how young people could get involved in agricultural policies and firstly if they should get involved. The participants explored the Revised European Charter on the Participation of Young People in Local and Regional Life (the Charter) and its six step implementation model. The participants came to the conclusion that agricultural development is crucially important for developing rural areas. Hence, the strategies and policies promoting the development of rural areas are considered to be a high priority in the country.

In order to reach sustainable agricultural development, it is necessary to provide rural youth with sufficient access to knowledge and information, through incorporating agricultural skills in the education.
According to the discussions, it became obvious that youth’s involvement in policy dialogue is still an existing challenge in the country. Thus, young people need to have access to integrated trainings in agricultural sector and get coherent response from policy-makers and development practitioners so as to overcome those challenges.


Overall, the following conclusion was drawn in result of the local visit: agricultural development is an extremely important asset for fostering sustainable development of rural communities’ livelihood and increasing the standards of living in those areas.