TOPIC 3: How to pass on the knowledge that is already in the garden group available to other gardeners

TOPIC 3: How to pass on the knowledge that is already in the garden group available to other gardeners

In this topic we look at ways to help share experiences and knowledge across the garden. Whether your garden is large or small, it is likely that your important day-to-day tasks include communicating with garden members, the coordination team or the public. It is therefore important that the right information flows to the right people.

“Knowledge transfer” is a practical method of transferring theoretical and practical knowledge from one part of an organisation to another. But it is more than just communication. Even in the case of a community garden, it involves the circulation of information, ideas, tasks, processes, tools, documents and much more. It is not simply the dissemination of information (facts and figures). Knowledge transfer has more to do with identifying and using the adapted skills and abilities of your garden members in applying the information.

Transferring personal, experiential knowledge from one person to another is difficult. Therefore, knowledge transfer tries to combine both practical and personal aspects to change the behaviour of the whole group and grow its skills. It is possible to focus on sharing operational knowledge first and then dive into transfer of learning once you have validated the system.

Knowledge transfer can help your garden in the following ways:

  • accelerate the collection and dissemination of knowledge throughout the garden
  • provide all members with easy and quick access to knowledge
  • remove time and space constraints on communication
  • to value the dignity of each member by improving an environment that enhances their development
  • recognize everyone as a valuable member of the team

The knowledge exists in the mind, so there are several approaches that can be used: writing, telling or performing. The method you use to convey depends on both how you communicate and how the other person receives the information.

An effective knowledge transfer strategy combines technology, culture, measurement and infrastructure to share knowledge across different areas of the organisation.

Knowledge transfer process, Source

The knowledge transfer process can be divided into 5 basic steps:

1. The identification and collection of knowledge depends on the culture of the community garden and can look like this:

  • brainstorming ideas
  • learning new skills
  • Inviting experts
  • finding solutions to problems
  • designing new projects

The result is “intangible” knowledge that is good to further collect, document and share with selected or all garden members.

If you want to create a strong culture of knowledge creation in your garden, you can:

  • point out problems in the garden and find solutions
  • document these solutions
  • seek input from members and outsiders
  • promote cooperation between members
  • mentor, train and develop members

2. Knowledge acquisition and retention

Proper knowledge capture and management is more than just having folders in Google Drive. You need to have an infrastructure that makes sense for your garden and allows quick and easy access to that knowledge.

This system may include, for example:

  • a list of the most important knowledge in each area
  • videos and visualizations (online but also offline in the garden, e.g. bulletin boards, bed markers, info boards,…)
  • document libraries
  • list of websites with the most important knowledge
  • systems for managing contacts, data and tasks
  • specialised teams with specific expertise – e.g. for composting, cultivation, internal document management, event organisation, lecturing, communication, finance team, content creation (text images, videos) for knowledge and experience transfer,…

3. Knowledge transfer and sharing

If a sharing procedure is designed in advance, the transfer of information to other members and/or teams in the garden will be more effective. Some of the main components include:

  • Describe briefly in a process document how knowledge is to be shared in the garden and throughout the organisation.
  • Choose a document management system (such as Google Drive) that organizes knowledge and makes it easier to share, if necessary.
  • Create one signpost of the most important documents for all members.
  • Identify means of communication that facilitate collaboration and communication across the garden or just within individual teams (see Module 3: Communication).
  • Identify the person or persons who will disseminate the knowledge among the garden members
  • Verify in practice that information was delivered to the right people in the right way at the right time

4. Applying knowledge and measuring results

The next step is to evaluate the success of the knowledge transfer. In gardens this step is often overlooked, but it is good to do a personal or group reflection after a while, to evaluate for example the completion of the tasks you have given out, the accessibility to information, the development of the acquired knowledge, both in terms of feelings and by a simple questionnaire among all members.

5. Creating new knowledge

If a new idea, process, knowledge sharing method or solution to a challenge is found to be workable and suits the needs of the garden, this will create new knowledge tailored to the needs of the garden. The whole process of transferring the first batch of knowledge is now complete. However, it opens up the possibility of applying the tried and tested procedure to other areas in the operation and development of the community garden, for example. Alternatively, the current process could be extended to other participants, such as the public.

Knowledge transfer within a group of community garden members is a great example of a model where overall knowledge is increased primarily through existing in-house resources and there is no need to seek and pay for or hire outside experts. On the other hand, if the level of involvement of local garden experts outgrows their need to pass on knowledge, their potential burnout or overwhelm should be prevented early on. As a prevention and streamlining process, it is useful:

  • follow the procedure and set up the whole system and knowledge transfer process see 5 steps above
  • involve more members in knowledge sharing (assemble a team of trainers, facilitators, subject matter experts and those who can capture their knowledge, for example in text form, or members with organizational skills who can help plan and ensure the actual learning and knowledge transfer process
  • record the knowledge in text or video material and make it available to all existing and new members of the community garden
  • help the expert to plan and organise the whole process of transferring his expertise
  • develop communication, lecturing and presentation skills

Different knowledge can be transferred in different ways:

  • indirectly when working together in the garden
  • by writing it to a shared document
  • compiling infomaterial or infocedule
  • within the lecture
  • in the form of a discussion where more people from the whole community garden, for example, join in the sharing
  • individual approach – identifying expert persons to whom others can go for advice
Additional materials

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