Environment and Education – NL

During a few months in the Netherlands in 2016, I have made contact with people and groups doing work/ activities that can inspire others.

Some community gardens:

  • Kruidentuin (20m from our home) a small park that the municipality was not looking after well.  Those who asked for better care were told they could take on looking after the garden.  Now known as Leiden’s Herb Garden.
  • Het ZoetLand a garden started in 2015, feeding 100 families: 2000m2 of vegetables, 1000m2 of flowers, fruit, etc.  A school building used to be here. The community resisted when tennis courts were proposed.  Next year is guaranteed, but after that?  The sandy soil is so good, plants can sink roots down easily – and they are easy to weed out too!

Without understanding Dutch, a lot can be understood from a video of a day event for children.

IVN – Netherlands Institute for Nature Education and Sustainability organised the 2.7.2016 Slootjesdag in Leiden’s Cronesteyn/Polderpark was great fun. We met at De Tuin van de Smid.  Around 50 children and adults gathered, then we walked out to a place where the water was “clean” (pretty unclear: full of life, weeds and animals… because there were low levels of pollutants and no excess nutrients – which inhibit reproduction of many sensitive species).  While the activity was being explained, the team set up the sets for children to collect: fine net, white bowl, glass jar, white spoon, magnifying glass and a laminated sheet showing the range of species commonly found in the slootje (“ditch”. Probably only found in locations at negative altitudes!  Leiden is -1m altitude, just below sea level).  Each group also had a plastic sheet to sit on (these needed a lot of cleaning at the end). Children of all ages  (much interest from pre-school children and their families) found a space on the grass and started to “fish”.  Some found tiny fish; lots of water beetles and some dragonfly larvae – all dangerous, predators ready to eat other animals; baby salamanders with gills of various sizes; tadpoles and even a frog…  Anything interesting was brought to the main table under the tent and inspected under a more powerful magnifying glass.  IVN volunteers gave extra information and showed how to look up species in the reference books.  After everyone had drifted away (and I had talked with Hans, 30 years recumbent cyclist) IVN team brought all the materials – packed into a cycle trailer – back to the Tuin, we washed out and packed up the cleaned materials… then went for locally made icecream at the Tuin’s tea garden.  Current IVN activities in Leiden

Leiden municipality has ‘Nature and Environmental education’ for primary schools of the Gemeente Leiden (‘Duurzaam Leiden’  their activities for primary schools : http://gemeente.leiden.nl/fileadmin/files/Over_de_stad/Natuur_en_milieu/Natuur_en_milieueducatie/NME-jaarprogramma/NME_Jaarprogramma_2016_17_webversie.pdf)

The school programs of Het Bewaarde Land started in Meijendel/Wassenaar, more than 25 ago, as a non-profit foundation,