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Grassroots Capacity Building

Capacity Building is a tool for community organising and vision alignment, useful to map the skills of the team and to make the group aware of the diversity of competences which can be put on practice in the project.

Capacity Bulding_GARDENS
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Goal of the exercise

Getting to know the competences, motivation and commitment of each group member, creating a common vision, and team-building.


Number of participants:

10 to 30 persons

Target group:

Best suited for a target group intending to work together on the same project.

Age of participants:

Aged 15 or above

Duration of the method

80 to 180 min, depending on the number of participants: 10 to 15 min to fill in the card (individually or in pairs) 5 min for each participant to present the results 20 min for the final discussion

Materials / Location

Paper and pens.

(Optional) Pin wall, Flip charts or similar devices; felt pens, pens or Post-Its to visualise the results.

A quiet place, if possible outdoors in a garden or green space.


Prepare and print out the required number of copies of the capacity building card according to the number of participants. The card used for this method consists of 7 fields which need to be completed by each participant. The 7 areas are:

  1. Participant‘s name

  2. Hard skills: skills gained through hands-on experience, training or education

  3. Soft skills: examples are interpersonal skills, ability to work in a team, leadership skills, communication skills, problem-solving skills, time management and critical thinking skills. Think: "how would a friend describe me?"

  4. Stress factors / Critical issues: what are the mechanisms, situations in which you experience stress or which you perceive as problematic when working in a team?

  5. What do I already know about green education and sustainability?

  6. What do I want to learn about green education and sustainability?

  7. How do I want to contribute to the project?

Step by step

  1. Hand out a card to each participant.

  2. Each participant fills out the card or, if you work in pairs, interviews their partner to collect the information before writing it down.

  3. Each participant presents the results of their card to the group.

  4. Gather for a plenary final discussion

  5. (Optional) Attempt to visualise the results, e.g. by forming competence clusters.

Alternative use

  1. Create cards for annual plants and vegetables.

  2. Co-designing a herb layer. Designate small areas and set out trays with plants best fit for polyculture. Small groups of participants (3 or 4 persons) are then asked to create their own herb layer design.

  3. If your aim is co-designing a garden, include locations for other garden elements (tool shed, garden beds, etc.).


Using pairs to fill in the card can help those who feel shy or less confident in the group.

The method works particularly well if it ends with a final discussion during which the results are being visualised.

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