Sprouting ideas and seeds
At Plant a Seed, we work to ensure that today's children – the adults of the future – are better equipped to take care of themselves, each other and the planet. Nothing less. It requires space and courage to learn and act in new ways. That is why we are in the process of creating a green learning space, where children can feel nature and community and where they can plant and nurture both seeds and thoughts, which can germinate and grow in an open and interdisciplinary environment. Right now we are developing our thoughts in dialogue with local schools and experts. The ambition is that in a few years time, a complete package will be developed for several schools.
Plant a Seed is a teaching program where children in the 4th and 5th grade try their hand at school gardens, presence training and co-creation with nature on a food-producing, organic farm in Lejre. Over a course of 21 weeks, the students replace their traditional classrooms with teaching on the farm once a week. Here, through their own sensory experiences in and with nature, the children feel what creates inner peace and joy in life. They learn what it means to care for themselves, each other and our planet. And they gain experience with the value in creating connections between brain and heart, between human and nature and between individual and community.
In the school gardens, the 4th grade students put seeds in the ground in the spring and follow their magical development over the summer and on to the autumn harvest, which is celebrated with a harvest party. In the yoga room and around the fire in the forest, the students practice feeling and maintaining an inner calm. Through cooking and small natural science experiments, students investigate how to create and develop interactively with nature.
Our ambition is to nurture insightful and healthy communities and collaborations, where the individual feels important, and also learns to recognise the importance of others. Through joint, playful exercises, group cohesion is strengthened and in the teaching we work actively to create safe and good relationships in the class for the benefit of the pupils' well-being.
Since 2010, the teaching course has been carried out in collaboration with Allerslev School in Lejre. From 2022, two more schools in Lejre Municipality have helped to "plant seeds". And we are in the process of seeking funds to further our dream of teaching in a way that supports individual well-being and nature education in a green learning environment. The vision is to develop and spread our teaching philosophy and practice in schools both nationally and internationally.
Listen to the podcast about Plant a Seed
Come and visit Plant a Seed on a beautiful October day in 2022. Teachers and students talk about their experiences in the forest, the gardens, the laboratory and by the fire – and what it means to them to participate in Plant a Seed. Henrik Byrial and the teachers talk about the process and the thoughts behind it.
The story of Plant a Seed goes back to Henrik Byrial's childhood years. In the village close to the farm where Henrik grew up, there lived an elderly man named Galatians. Most adults in Lejre thought that Galatians was a bit of an oddball. He wore a big, wide-brimmed hat, and he wasn't like the other adults. He was never busy, and he was often seen walking out into the fields where he occasionally stood quietly – apparently without doing anything. One day in the early spring, Henrik met him by chance out in the field, and Galatians asked Henrik if he wanted to go for a walk. As they stood together on a ridge and looked out over the landscape, Galatians suddenly took off his big hat and bowed deeply – right down to the ground. Then he straightened up and carefully replaced the hat. Henrik was surprised and asked: "Why did you take off your hat and bow?". And Galatians replied: “Didn't you see the lapwing? When you see the first lapwing of the year, it heralds the arrival of spring. I bow to it and take off my hat. It must be honoured”. And then he left.
The experience with Galatius planted a seed in Henrik. Galatius had shown him how to honour nature. And that challenged the thoughts that Henrik had about his very own small chicken business on his parents' farm. Until then he had been preoccupied with maximising produce - from 10 to a 100 eggs, then maybe even a 1000 eggs. But in the meeting with Galatius, Henrik had noticed a contrast to the focus on money and volume. He had a real desire to nurture and respect nature and felt that there was something bigger than himself.
The experience shaped Henrik throughout his upbringing and education. When he became an adult, he felt the urge to pass on Galatius' values to children.
He experienced that his own childrens school education lacked something in relation to contact with nature. The immediate love and respect for nature was absent in the teaching. That is why Henrik formed the idea of creating some school gardens himself and give Allerslev School the opportunity to come and grow crops out in the open air. It was a chance for the children to experience nature, practise ingenuity and explore creative science.
It turned out to be an idea that took some time to shape. At first he met some resistance from the school, but after a few years of dialogue, a biology teacher saw the potential of the project and did not think it would be difficult; quite the contrary. From there it went fast. The school bought tools. Henrik provided the soil and during the first years he was the sole teacher. Today the project has expanded with a team offering skilled teaching in cultivation, meditation, yoga and science in the on-site laboratory.
Galatius probably did not know that he had planted a seed in a child's soul many years ago. He couldn't have dreamt how his attitude to nature could give birth to such a fine idea. Or maybe he did.
Plant a Seed at Vibevadgaard
The teaching takes place at Vibevadgaard, an organic farm that houses a number of green companies.
Vibevadgaard houses a community of several green companies, all of which focus on nature, sustainability and health. On the students' weekly farm visit, they meet a large number of skilled teachers who are actively working to bring the planet towards sustainability. The small businesses give Vibevadgaard a diversity and an authenticity, demonstrating that there are many ways to approach sustainability. Here, the children can see with their own eyes how local crops are grown in a climate-friendly way and with a focus on caring for the Earth. They observe how to develop new practices and meet people who are collaboratively putting their theories into action.
The companies that substantiate the authenticity are:
Godis Grønt produces organic vegetable boxes for over 200 local families throughout the summer. Godis Grønt's focus is on growing vegetables in a way that suits our fantastic soil and biodiversity. Lejre residents can easily shop locally.
'Wild Herbs' supplies organic produce directly to local families and businesses. It also supplies vegetables, edible flowers and herbs to award-winning resaurants, including Noma, which also has Vibe Økologi as its main supplier of berries.
VIBE ØKOLOGI AND BYRIAL APS
Vibe Økologi grows a large number of berry species that are sold to restaurants and the health industry. In its natural substances laboratory, Vibe Økologi also develops nutritional supplements, which are included in clinical trials at Danish hospitals (see www.byrial.dk and www.aroniaforskning.dk). The company, which is managed by Henrik Byrial has 33 km of Aroniaberry-rows and grows a wide range of berries and herbs for NOMA restaurant.
Nerthus develops plant-based nutritional supplements for men with reduced sperm quality and has several patents in the field (see punalpin.dk). The product is sold worldwide and has been tested in clinical trials at a Danish hospital. A large part of the development and testing takes place in Vibe Økologi's natural materials laboratory, which also forms the framework for the teaching at Plant a Seed.
Great support from Lejre Municipality
Plant et Frø enjoys great support from Lejre Municipality, which for a number of years has been working to create connections between town and country in a new way. There is an important interaction between, Plant a Seed's practices, and Lejre Municipality's wishes for the future. It is important for us to feel the great reception the project is receiving from Lejre Municipality, knowing that our project is an integral part of their larger vision. If we get the opportunity to further develop the teaching process, Lejre Municipality will also be a great resource in drawing attention to the project. The ideas can then be passed on and made available to other schools in the country that work seriously with sustainability.
Actors in the food sector
Plant a Seed is part of a strong network of visionary players in the food sector. The common thread is our passion for sustainable food. Others included in this, are the restaurant Noma and author Tina Scheftelowitz, who writes cookbooks such as "Superb salads and brilliant buffets".