Visiting Terra in The Netherlands

We start at 8.00 AM in the Terra school in Meppel. The director welcomes everyone and briefly tells something about the building and its residents. According to the agenda, we then start with the presentations of the action plans, based on the results of our PROGRESS project. Everyone is impressed with each other’s plans: what beautiful, well-thought-out plans. After the presentations we quickly walk to the greenhouse where colleague Klaas tells a story about the bees that have found a place in a beehive on the school grounds since last year. Usefulness and necessity! The bees are part of the living garden that the students work on together. They too are increasingly recognizing the need for it.

The 18 added values of the Living Garden and the Living Public Space are divided into 4 pillars: PEOPLE, NATURE, CLIMATE and BUSINESS. The point is, that the student understands that, for example, by paying attention to the issues of temperature, water or air quality, one can make a contribution to the climate. 

We drive to Glimmen to get a tour in the Food Forest. Two sisters tell about the origin of the food forest and what can be found there and what is also edible. We taste a cup of tea of herbs from the forest and get a snack, also a product of the forest. A food forest produces food on the basis of the ecological principles of a natural forest. Built up in seven layers, a wide variety of natural and vital food is created from a fertile soil. Due to the wide variety of species and biotopes, a food forest contributes to nature development and biodiversity. Care for nature and soil life results in a healthy ecosystem. A food forest combines food production with nature. It is a human-designed self-sufficient ecosystem. In the long term, it can provide large groups of people with an abundance of honest products. One can find everything that grows in a forest: trees, shrubs, climbers and creepers. Especially perennial, edible species. Depending on the season, the harvest varies from various fruits, nuts, seeds and vegetables, to roots, tubers, stems, edible flowers and leaves. And of course mushrooms and honey. Everybody is enthusiastic and full of ideas for their own situation: at home, at work, there are plenty of possibilities to create a (tiny) food forest too.

After this visit we have lunch near a lake – a pity the weather is not too good.

In the afternoon we visit DonkerGroen in Groningen. DonkerGroen is a very versatile green company. They offer a wide range of services and products regarding the design of indoor and outdoor spaces

  • Realization and maintenance of outdoor greenery
  • Designing green and healthy indoor spaces
  • Construction of sustainable and circular playgrounds
  • Substrates for public space

Their vision: “We believe in the power of green. A green environment creates space, gives energy and contributes to a healthy and positive life. That is why it is becoming increasingly important to design indoor and outdoor spaces sustainably. That idea has been rooted in our DNA since the foundation of our company. We realize green and healthy indoor and outdoor spaces. We design, realize and manage these experiences based on 60 years of experience, fit and craftsmanship.

DonkerGroen produces substrates for public spaces and customized substrates for growing space improvement; from roof gardens, public gardens and city parks to sports fields and parking spaces.  We visited the playground of a school for visually impaired children where this company has built, planted and developed a lot. They are also designing several playgrounds in a sustainable and circular way. They install natural playground equipment and green schoolyards that challenge children to use their creativity and play together. They are also very creative when it comes to draining excess rainwater. We saw inspiring examples in and around the city of Groningen.

We closed this inspiring day with a dinner together in the center of Meppel.

The second day we leave at 08:00 hours to go to Sunrise Stables, the equine department of Terra, in Assen. We organise the Multiplier Event of our project. We invited all colleagues of the participating Dutch schools, all coordinators International of the Dutch Green and Grey schools and our network. There were … people attending the event.

We started the program with an introduction of the project (see ppt in Dropbox). After that, all partners showed and told about their Best Practice (see ppt’s in Dropbox and the report of the Multiplier Event).

After all presentations, a discussion with the audience was started. Because it was an almost totally international group, we were curious about the student numbers: increasing or decreasing, the sustainable activities of their schools, their own interests in this subject. Very interesting.  

After a joint lunch, we left for the SuikerTerrein/ Sugar terrain in Groningen. The knowledge workplace for the green sector. Our innovative and sustainable approach to outdoor education offers unique opportunities for personal growth and professional development. The Terra Sugar Terrain is a unique place in Groningen with a special history. Terra develops education here that fits the agenda of the city. Important aspects such as participation, employment and social sustainability are stimulated. That all happens by the people of the Innovation & Collaboration Team.

Terra believes that innovation is the key to growth and development. Terra focuses on the broad green sector and drives innovation towards a green future where there is room for people, animals, nature and economic progress. We do this by working together with partners and experts in this sector. Together Terra creates education for their pupils and students so that they can use everything they have learned to work and make an essential contribution to the society of the future.

What that looks like?

Terra works on projects that fulfil their objectives. Projects are:

– Green is art

– Green in the classroom

– The green living environment

– Urban farming

– Ancient varieties and crops

By working with projects, Terra creates ‘breeding grounds’ where students, lecturers and the business community can experiment together. Education then takes place ‘outside the school’, in an inspiring environment. Finally, Terra believes it is important to develop students and employees at an international level. Internationalization is therefore an important part of Innovation&Collaboration Team.

We see examples of what can be done with sheep’s wool. What you can make from discarded old jeans. How you can reuse ‘old stuff’ by first cleaning it, then pimping it or giving it another function (pants become bag, jacket becomes skirt). That you can dye clothing or wool with paint that is made from plants and is therefore not polluting or harmful to the environment. What creativity and possibilities!

We walk on this wonderful piece of land near the city and arrive at a Yurt. A place to meet, brainstorm or just chill. This Yurt is next to a number of Tiny houses under construction. These are built by architecture students, are decorated by interior design students, get green roofs by Terra students, as well as vertical gardens that will be built there. What a special collaboration! A little further on we see the skeleton of a drome made of Azobe wood that has been in the water for ages. Now it can be re-used by editing it. The wood is rock hard but can be worked and bent. The round shape was created by means of smart, open connections.

We have a drink together, sign the certificates and fill in the evaluation forms, before we return to Meppel to have the last diner together. We discuss that we will organize a final digital meeting for the last loose ends.

Two days is short but we used every hour of it – a good experience that provided us with new energy and ideas on sustainable and innovative subjects.

Thanks to all for a very pleasant TPM!

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