Development, sustainability and active citizenship: these are three pillars of Planting Cities (PLACE), a 2-year international project co-founded by the Erasmus+ Programme under the Key Action 2 – Capacity Building in the field of youth. The project foresees the participation of 5 different partners organizations from Europe and Asia: CESIE from Italy as project coordinator, PINA from Slovenia, CCN from Nepal, JRP from India and CANGO from China.

Recognizing social exclusion as one of the crucial problems and key challenge affecting today’s society, PLACE identifies youth work as a way to reduce the effects of social exclusion among young people and underlines the importance to invest in them to support social and community development. In fact, the main project’s challenge is to work towards the reinforcement of youth and their involvement in the community for the development of an inclusive and sustainable society. The strategy to achieve these objectives foresees the promotion of an innovative and educational use of urban gardens in order to improve the quality and the impact of youth work and to foster mobility exchanges and cooperation among youth workers and young people.

The kick-off meeting of PLACE was held in Palermo (Italy), from the 20th to the 24th of April 2015: the meeting allowed participants from partner organizations to get to know each other, discuss and plan the activities at local and transnational level. The meeting sessions were planned to give partners a proper knowledge about the most relevant issues of the project and as well as different local contexts and needs regarding gardening and youth work. Moreover, partners had the chance to visit a shared urban garden of CODIFAS (a local consortium promoting and defending Sicilian agriculture); thanks to the precious guide of an expert on horticulture, coordinators knew a local good practice, getting interesting inputs for the local project activities.

Several types of international mobility have been foreseen in the project. The first will be held in Palermo in the next autumn; 30 youth workers will take part in an International training course on urban garden as educational tool and how to manage volunteers. The second type of international mobility will be an European Voluntary Service (EVS) in all partner countries; from March to July 2016, 20 volunteers will do gardening activities and will organize educational activities for youngsters. Lastly, the project will end with a meeting in Kathmandu (Nepal) in December 2016. Here partners will launch the main project output: an open educational resource on urban garden and youth work.