AUSTRALIAN experts in the school garden movement are coming to Scotland next month in an attempt to help schools across the country develop sustainable growing techniques they say will equip Scottish children for challenges posed by climate change.

Janet Millington and Carolyn Nuttall, renowned teachers who wrote Outdoor Classrooms: a handbook for school gardens” have been invited by Children in Permaculture, a new partnership project involving five European countries including Scotland, which has been granted €250,000 in funding to help spread the concept.

Permaculture is a design system which sprang up during the 1970s oil crisis, a reaction to food insecurity and the desire for self-reliance. The idea is that by mimicking the growing patterns found in nature – rather than working against it as most formal gardens with lawns, separate flower and vegetable beds do – you can get more produce out of the earth with minimum effort.

Millington and Nuttall hope to inspire Scottish teachers and outdoor learning experts, teaching them about concepts such as food forests, which copy the “layers” found in a woodland.

In food forests smaller spaces can be used intensively with tall trees such as apple, plum and walnut grown alongside smaller ones including hazel. Bushes such as black and red currants make up the next layer, with herb plants such as sage and chives at a lower level. Strawberries grow on the ground, with crops such as potatoes and Jerusalem artichokes below.

At the workshops in May, which will take place in Gatehouse of Fleet, Dumfries and Galloway and will be attended by educators from across northern England and southern and central Scotland, they will provide ideas for future teaching and help with building lesson plans.

Millington and Nuttall claim their work is important as climate change and fewer resources mean children will face new challenges as adults. Lusi Alderslowe of Children in Permaculture, said: “I’m very excited about this opportunity to learn from international experts in engaging children in a permaculture education.

“Permaculture is a concept that has been used in Australia for a longer time than here – maybe 20 years or so. It’s about sustainable living and learning to grow things by following nature’s pattern so that you put the minimum amount of energy in to get the most out. Often when we garden we are working against nature. We need energy to power a lawnmower to cut the grass for example and we pull up weeds which grow into the vacuum left by bare soil.

“Instead we can learn from nature’s patterns. If you look at a woodland it may look like chaos but when you study it you realise it is highly ordered and self-sustaining.”

Alderslowe said that the workshops fitted well with Scotland’s curriculum for excellence and also spoke to parents’ enthusiasm for outdoor learning.

She added: “When our teachers were at school learning was done indoors. Many are now keen to start taking lessons outside but they don’t know how to go about it. This course can help them do that.”