living earth games cooperative board and card games
Co-operative educational eco-games , a fun learning experience for all ages

living earth games cooperative educational eco games

our games
    Living Landscapes
    Gaia's Garden
One Seed
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gaiasgarden bag

The games on this site were designed by Living Earth Games . No more games are manufactured. The games are stil for sale on the following site until stocks last

Many thanks to Roman from the Childrens Permaculture Guild, who wrote the following article about our games for the permaculture activist. :

Living Earth Games:
Boardgame Technology for Education

(Reprinted from Permaculture Activist, Issue #90, November 2013,

While working on my Masters in Education with a focus of developing Permaculure-based curriculum for public schools, I had the opportunity to spend the day observing a classroom in an Apple Distinguished School, a technology immersion program that boasts Smart Boards (an interactive whiteboard) in every classroom and a one-to-one student/laptop ratio. I was most intrigued by how students' interactions during free time were mediated by their technology.

I observed and recorded data on two groups: those playing online games and those playing boardgames. The results, in terms of awareness, interaction, and communication, were staggering. Those playing online games would spend the entire period without so much as making eye-contact with one another. These students would often go 6-8 minutes without saying a word and even when they did it was a generic phrase (e.g. “Look out!” “Go that way”) by the student awaiting their turn while watching the other play.

By contrast the students playing boardgames made eye-contact an average of once every 12-15 seconds and were engaged in ongoing conversations. Furthermore these students would occasionally make physical contact and even stop playing momentarily in response to the moment (one pair ran over to the window to watch an osprey land near their classroom, something that went completely unnoticed by their online counterparts).

The two different experiences could be summarized as following:
The first group (online) just happened to be beside one another while passively CONSUMING computer programming. The second group (boardgames) was actually spending time TOGETHER. When it comes to pastimes that build community board and card games are appropriate technology.

Boardgames are non-electronic forms of entertainment that can help sharpen one's focus, increase attention spans, and most importantly develop problem-solving skills. Some other advantages include improved social skills, patience, sharing, fairness, participation, and the dying art of human interaction. In short they emphasize a quality of experience over quantity of consumption. If computer games are consumed like fast food nowadays, then boardgames are the rising slow food movement.

This is why I was so thrilled to discover Living Earth Games which manufactures fun, cooperative board and card games based on permaculture design and systems thinking. While home schooling her three children Lizet Frijters was searching for a way to make learning more entertaining. She began designing eco-games inspired by nature and manufactured in an environmentally-friendly manner. So far Living Earth has published three incredible games: Living Landscapes, Gaia's Garden, and One Seed.

GAIA'S GARDEN is a cooperative boardgame centered on companion planting and beneficial insects.
The player rolls the dice and moves either the gardener, a pest, or a predator along the garden path. Players must work together to select appropriate plants from the nursery which will encourage biodiversity and IPM while discouraging pests. The gardeners need to plant for beneficial insects before the pests arrive. Everyone wins once all the rows are completely planted. A really neat feature of this game is that any player can leave and new players can join in at any time.
The lovely illustrations are printed with vegetable ink on 100% recycled paper and mounted onto the recycled cardboard with homemade organic flour paste. The actual board itself is divided into three sections for easy storage in its organic cotton bag (screenprinted with earthen pigments).
2-6 players, ages 4 to adult.

ONE SEED focuses on the four elements, wildlife, and the seven steps required to grow a pea from seed. Instead of traditional numbers the die features images of Sun, Water, Air, Earth, Wildlife, and Bees. Players learn about germination, the interrelationship between the four elements, the role of wildlife in the garden, and the importance of pollination. The players must cooperate to complete the lifecycle of the pea before it is eaten by a slug or bird. Like Gaia's Garden there is no competition between individuals and a player can join at any point during the game. One Seed was specifically designed as a “print and play” game which enables the player to download and print off the PDF immediately after purchase and eliminates any shipping costs. Once printed, I pasted the paper onto cereal boxes found in the recycling and cut out the game pieces. It only took a few minutes to have the finished boardgame in my hands and without any postage fees!
1-6 players, ages 4 to adult.

LIVING LANDSCAPES is perhaps my favorite of the three games because, in addition to being extremely fun to play with friends and family, it is a very useful design tool for adults. Unlike the previous two games, Living Landscapes is a card game whose aim is to help the player “understand sustainable landscape design.” In the directions Lizet writes, “With this card game we learn to see relationships between the elements of a landscape and our needs.” The card deck is divided into three categories: 12 green cards representing Elements (e.g. windbreak, pond), 10 Red cards for Functions/Needs (e.g. soil improvement, irrigation), and 30 Black cards which are products (e.g. legumes, wood). The players must figure out how the elements, functions, and products are all connected.
There are several ways to play Living Landscapes. In one version, for example, the goal is to make sure each function is supported by at least two elements and yields a product. In truth the game is designed for open-ended play limited only by the imagination of the participants. My daughter has even created her own game using the cards!
“There is no winner or loser in the game,” Lizet writes, “it is rather an introduction to discussion. The fun comes from the exchange and discussion between players.” The soft water-color images are beautiful and even include a few blank cards allowing individuals to personalize their own deck. As an added bonus these permaculture playing cards have traditional numbers and symbols on them (i.e. 8 of Spades) to play any common card game such as poker or bridge. Although once you have experienced the lively discussion of possibilities, patterns, and solutions that Living Landscapes fosters, traditional games will seem mundane by comparison.
Unlimited players, two age categories: 4-7 and 7 to adult.

Last year our town was hit by a freak ice storm effectively knocking out power to tens of thousands of homes for a week. As our neighbors fled to stay in hotels, with relatives, or found temporary sanctuary inside cafes our family took out our natural wool blankets, used an Aprovecho Rocket Stove to cook meals, and spent our evenings playing these boardgames by candlelight. We shared laughter, ideas, and reconnected with one another. This was appropriate technology in action.

All images and work on this website are copyrighted by Lizet Frijters.
   No images can be reproduced or published without prior written arrangement by Lizet Frijters

Living Landscapes

living landscapes pic

Gaia's Garden

gaia's garden board

One Seed

one seed educational early childhood board game