What is plant-based education?

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Welcome to BGEN - What is plant-based education? BGEN promotes the enormously positive role that active, plant-based learning can play in educational settings. But what exactly do we mean by 'plant-based education'?

Plant-based education supports the use of plants as a tool for learning in all aspects of school curricula and lifelong learning. Plants can be used to teach not only scientific disciplines such as botany, ecology and taxonomy, but also social sciences, languages, and the arts. Using plants in education opens up tremendous opportunities to inspire learning through hands-on activities.

Plant-based education in action

Read our case studies to find out about some of the innovative ways in which BGEN member organisations are using plants in education and engagement.

eden_smallEden Project: Exploring the freaky side of nature

Once a year, the Eden Project is taken over by ‘Freaky Nature’ – a season of fun, interactive learning activities that introduce visitors to the weird and wonderful world of plants.

paignton_smallPaignton Zoo: Sustainable gardening for schools

Paignton Zoo’s gardens team set Devon’s primary schools the challenge of designing a sustainable school garden, and then headed back to school to build the winning design.

westonbirt_smallWestonbirt Aboretum: Volunteering partnership with Bristol Drugs Project

Several times a year, members of Bristol Drugs Project join volunteer work parties at Westonbirt to carry out essential maintenance tasks in the arboretum.

Teachers on a CPD course © National Botanic Garden of WalesNational Botanic Garden of Wales: Developing teachers' skills

Continuing professional development courses at the National Botanic Garden of Wales help teachers to get to grips with plant-based learning.

Marle Hesp, widow of prisoner of war Harry Hesp, with Pensby Secondary School students in the bamboo garden © Liverpool EchoNess Botanic Gardens: Bringing history to life in a feature garden

A bamboo garden at Ness Botanic Gardens brings the experiences of prisoners of war in the Far East to life, by recreating part of a jungle encampment on the Thai Burma Railway.

archbishop_ilsley_smallFood for Life Partnership: Composting at Archbishop Ilsley school

Students at Archbishop Ilsley school work alongside teachers and catering staff to produce high-quality compost from food and garden waste.

Young people using Bedgebury's backpacksBedgebury National Pinetum: Activity backpacks for families

Families visiting Bedgebury National Pinetum and Forest can hire backpacks full of exciting activities and ideas to help 5-12 year olds explore trees and nature.

Participants on the Certificate in Practical Horticulture programme © RBGERoyal Botanic Garden Edinburgh: Certificate in Practical Horticulture

The Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh created the Certificate in Practical Horticulture to give people hands-on training in horticultural techniques.

Children working on the St James' Park allotment © Royal Parks / Anne-Marie BriscombeCreating allotments in London's parks

The St James' Park allotment project set out to inspire as many people as possible to have a go at growing their own food.

kew_smallRoyal Botanic Gardens, Kew: Staging a community art exhibition

For Kew’s Travel Treasures exhibition, local community groups and special needs schools created artworks inspired by the life and work of botanical artist Marianne North.