A project from the Municipality of Athens’ Resilience and Sustainability Department, implemented in the kindergartens in Athens

With our motto “From seed to fruit” in the framework of FUSILLI “Fostering the Urban Food System Transformation through Innovative Living Labs Implementation”, here in Athens we created 14 small greenhouses in kindergartens in the spring of 2021, and at this moment we are completing another 14.

Our goal is to reach 68 by the end of the 2022-2023 school year, the same number as all of our kindergartens.

In our greenhouses, mainly vegetables, aromatic plants and some fruit trees are grown. From the very beginning of this project, the schoolchildren, the teachers and the parents have embraced it with a special kind of love.

And from the very first moment,  the mayor of Athens, Mr. Bakoyannis  has inspired and encouraged us throughout this project, following its development closely and being extremely supportive of our endeavors.

Mayor crouching with two children near the ground at the greenhouse

Mayor of Athens, Kostas Bakoyannis, at one of the greenhouses with the children

Through an experiential process, the children have gotten to know the seed, the plant and the final fruit. Together with their teachers they sowed, watered and also picked the fresh tomatoes, peppers and cucumbers, then made salads, cooked and tasted the fruits of their labours.

For us, our seeds are not only the ones we plant in our greenhouses, but, metaphorically, they are also our young participants: the children who experience on a daily basis the growth process of a plant (a process almost forgotten by city dwellers) become so involved in it that they spread their enthusiasm to their families, and so the concept also grows, like the plants. These children will become the “fruit” produced from the “seed” as they mature into conscious adults.

The children experiencing fresh tomatoes from the kindergarten greenhouse

The children enjoying the tomato fruits of their labor

 For this purpose, in the second stage of the project we are preparing a plant nursery in each kindergarten, where the little gardeners will take home seeds and small plants to grow on their balconies. In this pilot stage, we have asked 50 families to engage with the project. Then after a few months, with their parents, they will bring mature plants with fruit back to their school.

In addition, because we want both children and families to get to know the whole cycle, including the final waste phase, we have initiated the installation of compost bins outside the schools, so that each child, together with their mum or dad, can bring their own organic waste.

Education at such young ages is of unique value and creates tomorrowconscious citizens of society. So, finally, for this purpose, we are preparing educational seminars (workshops), informing children about cultivation techniques and the value of a healthy diet.

Our vision for May 2023

  • 68 greenhouses in the nurseries
  • 2000 small growers (all the children aged 2.5 to 4 years)
  • 8000 family members trained in the bio-waste production and collection process (2000 children x an average of 4 members of each family)
  • 50 balconies with small vegetable gardens (pilot planting of crops on balconies)
Author: Sonia Papageorgiou, Project Manager Fusilli, Municipality of Athens
Photo credits: Municipality of Athens