45 university students were selected to take part in The Green Student Bootcamp Challenge, an experiential learning programme in nature designed to encourage students towards sustainable and healthy lifestyle choices.
Every Friday afternoon students gathered at our location on the campus of the Vrije Universiteit (VU Amsterdam) to learn how to; grow food at home, compost food waste, cook healthy plant-based recipes, brighten up their urban environments, think about what sustainability means to them, debate and define sustainable values and learn practical tools to manage stress for increased well-being.
Students worked together in our organic garden to learn how to design a balanced and healthy garden. They learned how to grow plants for food, pollinating insects, wildlife and for pest control as well as how seasons and climate affect what we grow and eat. Each week the students received a different challenge – from bringing a ‘worm hotel’ compost container home filled with new worm housemates, to creating healthy seasonal recipes using vegetables and herbs from the organic garden they created. The students were challenged with organising their graduation party at the end of the programme, where they created a menu of healthy plant-based snacks using the harvest from their garden.
The Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam launched the Green Healthy Students research programme to investigate the needs and wishes of students with respect to a greener and healthier university environment. It will also be investigated which green and healthy interventions students rate to be successful, and if these interventions contribute to their health and vitality. Researchers liaised with the students taking part in the Bootcamp Challenge to collect research data throughout their 12 week programme.
In exchange for the education and the fun activities on offer, students were asked to share their experiences and what they learn with their friends and families. By encouraging the students to share the information they were given, we sought to also inspire a wider audience towards healthy lifestyle choices.
On their graduation day students shared that the Bootcamp Challenge programme helped them to destress, make social connections, learn how to cook creatively with seasonal vegetables, herbs and native plants, and importantly for many, it gave them an opportunity to be creative which made them feel happy. Happy, healthy, more relaxed, with practical tools for growing their own food, cooking healthy meals and generally more environmentally aware – we think these students really deserved to graduate!
Thank you to educators and partners:
Cityplot, Le Compostier, Bio-Kultura, Paul Efmorfidis – Coco-Mat Nederland, Nina Weerman – NICE Fruitijsjes, Kasper Spaan – Amsterdam Rainproof & Waternet, Professor Jaap Seidell VU, Dr. Jolanda Maas VU, Ir. Coosje Dijkstra VU, Nicole van de Bogerd VU, School of Tai Chi Chuan Amsterdam & Manon Danker – The Work that Reconnects