In order to co-produce and activate the Herbula Wild Garden, the temporary garden-laboratory created at MIND by the Local Coalition of the Milan pilot (Polimi, LAND and PlusValue), a series of experimental activities have been run, from September 2022 to May 2023, in collaboration with two second grade classes (approximately 30 students) of an agrarian high school in Milan, the Istituto Agrario Vilfredo Federico Pareto.
In particular, students have been entrusted with the Experimental Area of the Herbula Wild Garden, a portion of the garden dedicated to educational research, where local schools and MIND companies can engage in educational or research activities through botanical or agronomic experiments to promote urban biodiversity and conscious lifestyles.
In agreement with the teachers of the Istituto Agrario, it was decided to create a resilient wild garden, made up of edible native plants, suitable for processing and transformation into everyday products, for gastronomic, cosmetic or herbal purposes.
The experimentation process started with a presentation in class (on September 28, 2022) of the MIND area and the Herbula Wild Garden by the Polimi team, followed by a first site inspection (on November 14, 2022) during which the students sow some parcels of the Experimental Area with a selection of six types of ancient grains from the Wheat Chain of the Southern Agricultural Park of Milan.
In a second stage, the Polimi team conducted a workshop in class (on February 14, 2023) with the purpose of training the students on processing techniques and guiding them in selecting the species to compose their resilient garden. To do so, they were provided with a botany card template and a recipe template, they were asked to fill in with the information about a native plant of their choice suitable for processing. The results of this activity have been digitised and published in the Digital Archive of the Herbula Wild Garden.
They were then provided with the seeds of the selected species, which were brought to germination in the school greenhouse. Meanwhile, the students did a second site inspection (on March 3, 2023) in order to assess the state of the soil and the plants spontaneously grown in the area so as to plan their intervention. In the last week of April (April 28, 2023), when the plants were grown enough to be transferred into the soil, the students went to MIND for the third and last time, to finally turn their visions into reality by planting the selected species into the Experimental Area.
As a concluding step, an herb processing lab was organized at school (on May 3, 2023) to practically show the students how to transform the plants. This activity was conducted by an expert from Wood*ing Wild Food Lab, a laboratory for research and experimentation on the use of wild plants for human nutrition. During the activity several processing techniques were illustrated to students, such as distillation, fermentation and dehydration, and they were finally involved in a practical session of creation of pesto by using wild ingredients.
- Conscious and Sustainable Lifestyles