AgroPermaLab: 10-day training for agroecology leaders in the food sovereignty movement

This 10-day Agroecology training program was the result of several years of collaboration in the field of Agroecology education within the food sovereignty networks of Nyeleni Poland and Nyeleni Europe

The Agro-Perma-Lab training  program was designed for grassroots organization leaders, activists, and community educators. The training not only aimed to enhance the individual competencies of participants but also to foster dialogue and collaboration networks among the organizations they represented, which was particularly crucial from the organizers’ perspective.

The training equipped participants with tools to facilitate grassroots collaboration and enhance the effectiveness of organizational work. It aimed to develop their pedagogical and leadership skills and deepen their substantive knowledge in Agroecology within the framework of food sovereignty and the global governance of agriculture and food.

The training methods were based on horizontal (peer-to-peer) knowledge exchange and the principles of dialogue between various types of knowledge, inspired by the methodology of La Via Campesina’s agroecology schools. An essential aspect of the training was the emphasis on group diversity, cross-sectoral integration, and intergenerational collaboration.

Interactive group-work tools were utilized in the training to base the learning process on the participants’ experiences. The goal was to develop communication skills in critical global issues by anchoring discussions in familiar local contexts.

The training was led by Andrea Ferrante, the coordinator and trainer of the international agroecology school Schola Campesina, a long-time consultant for the La Via Campesina movement, and an advocate for agroecology development. Approximately 15 trainers and experts from Poland also collaborated in conducting the training.

What can I expect and what can the organizers expect?

The 10-day training program at the Ecological Folk University’s demonstrational agroecological farm will require full engagement in group work, exercises, and active participation in integrational tasks such as the agroecology day practice, citizens’ panel, Oxford-style debate, and more.

During the training and in dialogue, all participants are treated equally alongside invited experts. Additionally, they are asked to prepare for the sessions, take on the role of an ‘expert,’ conduct a didactic exercise in their area of specialization, and deliver a public presentation in Warsaw.

The total cost we will invest in the training of one participant is approximately 2500 PLN. Therefore, it is important for us to see motivation and the potential to transfer acquired skills and knowledge to local organizations or contexts. We also value the possibility of participants attending events planned for 2020: the 2nd National Forum on Food Sovereignty and the Ecological Farmers’ Seminar “Good Harvests.”

See the training program 
Read about the training method 
See the Agroecology library 
Meet the trainers 
Meet the teams of project organizers
See a presentation about the program (‘Heads Down’ panel, 2nd Food Sovereignty Forum )

The main objectives of the training program

  • Horizontal, peer-to-peer , or farmer-to-farmer knowledge exchange based on the methodology of La Via Campesina schools.
  • Dialogue between different types of knowledge and recognition of various perspectives of participants and experts through “Diálogo de Saberes.”
  • Feelings and emotions are recognized as a key aspect of agroecological knowledge, and this perspective is integrated with scientific data.
  • Gender equality and diversity of represented sectors and generations.
  • Knowledge exchange between communities of farmers, activists, and scientists.

What is important for the organizers?

  • Participants nominated by parent organizations based on leadership and educational potential.
  • Places in the training determined by the APLab team with a special focus on the diversity of the group.
  • Integration of the unique methodology and training program developed by Schola Campesina with the Polish context.
  • Building a network of cooperation and knowledge exchange between experienced activists and experts in the field of Agroecology and food sovereignty.

Who can participate?

In the main part of the training, 16 people from Poland will participate, including:

  • Small food producers who are members of local and national farmers’ organizations (60%)
  • Members of other civil society and NGO organizations (20%)
  • Members of the core group of the Nyeleni Polska collective (10%)
  • Members of research and legal institutions

Criteria for nomination and selection:

  1. The nominated person represents a community: an organization, association, informal collective, grassroots movement, research institution, or organization.
  2. The thematic focus of the activities and mission of the nominee’s home organization/community is aligned with the principles of the food sovereignty and agroecology movement or indicates a commitment to moving in that direction.
  3. The nominee’s leadership and educational potential are demonstrated through tangible actions.
  4. The aspect of diversity within the group of participants may lead to the selection of a person from a less represented sector.
  5. The largest group of participants will be practical farmers from grassroots rural and agricultural organizations.
  6. High motivation to participate in the training is essential and will be assessed through interviews with the recruitment coordinator (or in writing).
  7. The potential participant has the ability to influence social change, which is also related to their current life situation, age, and life stage, and they will want and be able to apply the training experience to real-life and contribute to building a solidarity network after the training.

What do we provide for the participants:

  • A scholarship-based free spot at the training (excluding travel costs).
  • Coverage of accommodation and food expenses based on local and organic products.
  • Involvement of participants in consultations on the final program and support in its preparation.
  • Visits to demonstration farms and a stay at the Ecological Folk University.
  • A balanced selection of educational tools and methods with a special focus on strengthening the potential for generalizing acquired competencies to the activities of entire organizations (utilizing them within their organizations and sharing with others).

Participant selection process:

By mid-August, the APLab team will compile a list of project stakeholders (organizations and agroecological communities) and promote the training through the website, social media, and the Nyeleni Polska network. We will also collect recommendations and nominations of participants from organizations and verify them through interviews to ensure a fair recruitment process. After mid-August, we will collectively select participants and confirm scholarships for their participation in the training.

COORDINATION: Joanna Bojczewska


This Agro-Perma-Lab project is realised by a team comprising of members of Nyeleni Polska – a movement for food sovereignty, and also in cooperation with the Ecological Folk University and

Joanna Bojczewska – project and program coordinator for Agro-Perma-Lab

Joanna is an Agroecology educator with experience in ecosystem and permaculture cultivation in Poland and England. She is a graduate of the Ecological Folk University (EUL) and a co-founder and animator of the Food Sovereignty Movement Nyeleni Polska, as well as intergenerational farmers’ meetings. She has a background in social anthropology. Contact:

Marta Kurkiewicz – recruitment and training coordinator for Agro-Perma- Lab

Marta is an environmental activist, the leader of the Warsaw-based NA ZDROWIE Cooperative, the founder of the Rural Food Cooperative in the Beskid Niski region, and in the Green Preschool in Warsaw’s Bródno district, she implements her own project for organic nutrition education. She holds degrees in animal science, pedagogy, and pediatric dietetics.

Marta Łukowska – Coordinator for Research Tool Design and Case Studies

Marta holds a Ph.D. in psychology and was a student at the Ecological Folk University in Grzybów. She is also an activist in the Nyeleni Polska Food Sovereignty Movement. She is on her way to becoming an ecopsychologist, beekeeper, and ecological farmer.

Ben Lazar –  Coordinator for Research Tool Design and Case Studies

Ben is a wandering teacher and permaculture animator, the initiator of the Permaculture Map, the Kosiarzy’18 Club, and the Permaculture Design Workshops 2017-2019, and a co-founder of the Nyeleni Poland Food Sovereignty Movement.

Agnieszka Makowska, coordinator for the Polish stance on Agroecology

Agnieszka is an eco-gardener who supplies vegetables to cooperatives in Płock and Warsaw. She is a co-founder and member of the Nyeleni Polska Food Sovereignty Movement associated with the Ecological Folk University and serves as the coordinator of the Żywa Ziemia (Living Earth) Coalition. Before the farming season, she spent many years working in Central Asia, where she worked, among other things, to improve access to clean drinking water in rural areas.

Joanna Perzyna – coordinator for the Polish stance on Agroecology

A graduate of the Ecological Folk University, a member of Nyeleni, activist, sociologist, social anthropologist and Latin Americanist. Devoted to herbs, wild edible plants, and fermentation.

Jan Skoczylas – Coordinator for strategic communication, the Agro-Perma-Lab project website and content presentation

Jan is a translator and author of texts, publishing in magazines such as “Dzikie Życie” and “Zielone Wiadomości.” He has been a long-time co-editor of “Zielone Wiadomości” and an active member of Pracownia na rzecz Wszystkich Istot, Nyeleni Polska, and Dobrze Food Cooperative. He is also an honorary member of the Zielony Żurawlów Assosciation. Jan is a graduate of the Climate Guardians training at PNRWI and enjoys spending his free time in the mountains and forests.

Kasia Horodyńska –  Coordinator for strategic communication, the Agro-Perma-Lab project website and content presentation

Kasia is a social activist with a background in architecture and illustration. For many years, she has been involved in projects related to sustainable construction, biodiversity conservation, and environmental education. She is the author of the Polish guide ” Jak zachować nasiona z własnego ogródka” (How to Save Seeds from your own Garden). Currently, she is working on a project to transition regional buildings into climate-friendly sustainable construction without losing their regional value.


Ewa Smuk-Stratenwerth

Ewa has a background in biology and anthropology. She also completed postgraduate studies in philosophy under the guidance of Professor Michał Heller in the field of Religion and Science. She founded and runs the Ecological Folk University in Grzybów. She is a co-founder and director of the Ecological-Cultural Association ZIARNO. Along with her husband Peter, for over 20 years, she has been running an organic farm in Grzybów, Mazovia, which includes an organic bakery and cheesery. She is one of the initiators of the nationwide campaign “Giving Birth in a Humane Way.” She is a member of Ashoka – Innovators for the Public Good.

Marcin Wójcik

Marcin is a farmer, cattle raiser, president of the “Pastwisko” Cattle Raisers Association, and the owner of a company specializing in the sale of organic meat. His passion is agroforestry. He has a background in forestry, animal husbandry, and beekeeping. He is also a member of Nyeleni Poland.

Wioletta Olejarczyk

Wioletta is a farmer and the initiator of the Jurajskie Kooperatywy Spożywczej (Jura Food Cooperative) in Częstochowa. She is also a member of Nyeleni Polska and collaborates with Mother Earth.

An Agro-Perma-Lab 2019 project financed by LUSH Permaculture & Agroecology FUND.
Project partners: Schola CampesinaEcological Folk University,