The FUTURESOILS project works with schoolchildren to establish the link between their own food and different farming systems and to jointly explore the advantages and disadvantages of "horizontal" and "vertical" agriculture. Vertical agriculture opens up new possibilities for opening up areas previously inaccessible for food production to agriculture and reducing land consumption. The project is designed to awaken students' interest in scientific content, research and related careers.

Project description

In school workshops and on experiment days, children and young people are made aware of the topics of soil, land and nutrition, as well as professions related to these topics. The focus is on the children's own nutrition, the land required for this, the importance and properties of the soil, and different cultivation systems, including "vertical" agriculture. A total of five school classes are each in charge of a vertical bed and a hydroponic system (cultivation of plants in nutrient solution without soil) for three months. Through the students' exploratory work in conjunction with the care of the plants, a direct examination of the influence of their own actions on the possible yield takes place. The innovative growing systems of vertical beds and hydroponic systems illustrate how ecosystem cycles and innovative food production work and how contributions against climate change are possible even in small spaces. The inclusion of peer teaching at the schools facilitates the consolidation of knowledge and enables new perspectives as well as the transfer of the acquired content into society.

Visits to economic partners (organic farm, aquaponics farm, market garden) show the practice of food production and the children participate in the production process. In addition, experts can be interviewed about their educational paths and professions.

Expected outcomes:

  • Put students in the position of researchers and teachers.
  • Make modern farming systems accessible to students
  • Raise awareness of the connections between food, resources and soil
  • Communicate career opportunities related to soil and agriculture and expand the educational profile of participating schools

Benefit of the project

School children gain insights into food production and learn about new ways to produce their own food in urban areas and reduce land consumption. The knowledge about the connections between soil services, climate protection, agricultural production and sustainability is extended to a larger group of people around the participating school children. In addition, the research results of the participating scientific organizations can be anchored in society. The contents and methods of the school workshops can be further used, e.g. in future projects.

Project details

Project acronym: FUTURESOILS

Project management: Umweltbundesamt GmbH

Project management AGES: Julia Miloczki

Project partners: University of Natural Resources and Applied Life Sciences (BOKU), Federal Forest Research and Training Center (BFW)

Funding: FFG

Project duration: 08.2020 to 10.2023

Last updated: 01.12.2022

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