Environmental crises require collective and sustained action. However, pro-environmental action (PEA) has been mostly approached as an individual process. Further, conventional approaches to promote PEA assume an information-processing model of actions based on knowledge acquisition, which has been critiqued. Recent environmental education approaches emphasize more complex, non-linear models of action and focus on the acquisition of action-competence, which allows students to feel empowered to act in their local communities. Extending this approach, the potential of using the school as a base to involve other members of a community to engage in collective pro-environmental practices is a promising, but under-researched, direction to address sustainability issues. In this school-based case-study, we explored the development of action-competence, particularly the processes that lead up to such competence, by facilitating an urban farming project (40 students, 12–13 years old, tracked for 10 months). We studied students’ interaction with farming structures and entities closely, taking an analysis approach inspired by: (1) recent work highlighting the affective-aesthetic appeal of environmental entities and (2) embodied cognition models. Based on these data and analysis, we show how meaningful and embodied encounters with nature contribute to the enhancement of students’ environmental “action-space”. More interestingly, sharing of these “action-spaces” with adults, through various social experiences, motivated adults to participate in PEAs. This case-study is relevant to environmental educators and researchers seeking to design proactive interventions and explore general principles underlying collective environment-oriented actions.

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