Planning a learning event is a bit like planting pumpkins. What are the three key things we can take from the gardening metaphor to bring our learning events to flower and to prepare for a rich harvest?

The pumpkins seem to be in conversation after a long summer of growing and sun bathing. What story do these two pumpkins tell?


The gardener would say: There are many elements to consider for a successful harvest.”

It needs time, care and know-how to bring a garden to flower and vegetables to grow – and so it does to prepare a successful face-to-face meeting. For organisers, the workshop, seminar, or a face-to-face meeting starts long before the ‘opening bell’ rings.

1. Decide for the seeds to plant – set the purpose

Before getting started we have to choose our seeds and samplings. We have to decide if we are going to grow vegetable, or berries or if we want to make a flower garden or maybe a rose garden, or eventually a wild natural garden? Or our pumpkins?

What’s the reason for organising a workshop or learning event? What seeds of knowledge, skills, and behaviours do we hope to plant? Who are our visitors? And what do we want from them? Why are they joining? What’s their motivation? What do they bring to the workshop or learning event?

2. Design the garden and outline the beds – define the process

We make a plan, prepare the “beds”, create the space and assign the place, where we want to plant what, where we want to see what happening. We explore possibilities and options. We define the process to give the garden the wanted shape.

How do we arrange the learning process to finally reach the set objectives? Which reflection and discussion spaces are needed at what moment? When do we bring all together?

3. Prepare the soil – involve the participants

Planting on fertile soil is more successful. This is true not only for pumpkins and lettuce, but also for workshops. We need the right mix of airy, solid and nutrient stuff.

We consider our experiences and expertise. Do we have the necessary know-how? Or do we have to get more people in? What do the participants have to offer? How and when do we bring them in? Can we launch the discussion leading to the event, involve participants to start ‘twittering’ their ideas and thoughts?

The big work towards organizing a learning workshop is done once the purpose, the theme and the process are defined.

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