TOPIC 3: How to train community gardeners about climate change?

TOPIC 3: How to train community gardeners about climate change?

Climate change and the exhaustion of natural resources require urgent action and adaptation. In the previous lessons we shared the competency model. The OECD Education 2030 project has identified three further categories of competencies, the “Transformative Competencies”, that together address the growing need for young people to be innovative, responsible and aware. The development of these competencies help us to set learning goals in our community gardens as well when we address climate change.

  • Creating new value – New sources of growth are urgently needed to achieve stronger, more inclusive and more sustainable development. Innovation can offer vital solutions, at affordable cost, to economic, social and cultural dilemmas. Innovative economies are more productive, more resilient, more adaptable and better able to support higher living standards. 
  • Reconciling tensions and dilemmas –  Individuals will need to think in a more integrated way that avoids premature conclusions and recognises interconnections. In a world of interdependency and conflict, people will successfully secure their own well-being and that of their families and their communities only by developing the capacity to understand the needs and desires of others.
  • Taking responsibility – The third transformative competency is a prerequisite of the other two. Dealing with novelty, change, diversity and ambiguity assumes that individuals can think for themselves and work with others. Equally, creativity and problemsolving require the capacity to consider the future consequences of one’s actions, to evaluate risk and reward, and to accept accountability for the products of one’s work.
PHOTO SOURCE: Teru Menclová © Kokoza, 2021
The 5 critical topics that every community gardener should understand are:
  1. Weather, Climate, and Climate Change
  2. Earth’s Climate System
  3. Earth’s Energy Budget and the Greenhouse Effect
  4. Energy Use and Carbon Emissions
  5. How to Teach Climate Change
How to have a conversation about climate change in community gardens

Conversations promote social change, develop social norms, and can be deeply influential to the people involved. When starting conversations on climate change, remember that most people are concerned about the issue, and you may find more areas of agreement than you expect. Finding commons interests and areas of concern, speaking to shared values, and connecting to what people care about – hobbies, family, faith, community, jobs, etc. — are the important foundations of effective climate conversations. Having an impactful conversation does not require a deep understanding of climate science. In addition to finding connection, emphasizing the scientific consensus (that 97% of climate scientists have concluded that human-caused climate change is happening) and the benefits of climate action are important in climate conversations. Please know that community around our garden showing their interest in nature already which is a great starting point to share not only conversations but real experiences with the hands in the soil.

The #TalkingClimate Handbook, from by the UK-based organization Climate Outreach, developed the following principles for having effective climate change conversations. The handbook’s advice is structured around the mnemonic REAL TALK.

  • Respect your conversational partner and find common ground: Seek common ground and shared values. Focus on building trust, not on having an argument.
  • Enjoy the conversation: Avoid trying to fit in every point. Ask questions rather than lecture and seek to understand experiences that led to beliefs. Try to end on a positive note.
  • Ask questions: Find out what climate change means to them. Give space for reflection.
  • Listen and show you’ve heard: Genuinely listen and verify that you’ve correctly understood.
  • Tell your story: How you became engaged and why you are concerned are some of the most powerful tools you have. Share your perspectives and experiences and where you are struggling or what challenges you have faced.
  • Action makes it easier, but doesn’t fix it: Talking about actions you are taking to address climate change gives you a place to start the conversation and can help you be a role model. Emphasize how your actions are realistic and doable. Acknowledge that it can feel overwhelming, and everyone needs to find actions that work for them.
  • Learn from the conversation: Every conversation is an opportunity to gain insights and improve. Don’t assume people won’t care — you may be surprised by what they say.
  • Keep going and stay connected: Every conversation is valuable and challenges the perception that no one cares. Keep having conversations and connecting with others who are talking about climate.
Additional materials

3 activities for teaching about climate change

Preparing our learners for present and future challenges: A focus on climate change

NASA Global Climate Change

Teaching Climate Change

Talking Climate Handbook


The Future Of Education and Skills: Education 2030, OECD, 2018

Daniel P. Shepardson, Andrew S. Hirsch. Teaching Climate Change. American Educator, Winter 2019-2020.

Tips for talking about climate change, 2023. Hennepin County Climate Action.