Thursday, 30 March 2023

Saturday Workshop: Building a Thermal Compost

Ryan Vasseur shared his expertise on thermal composting, teaching us about the roles of micro organisms for plant nutrients and growth. We were thrilled to be spending all morning outside in brilliant sunshine.

Ryan led us through the process of building a thermal compost.  Wood chips, beer mash, coffee grounds, and horse manure were thoroughly mixed and placed in a large composting container. The activity of the growing micro organisms in the coming weeks will create intense heat, breaking down the wood chips and other materials. This compost will be used to feed the trees and plants at the Orchard Garden later this spring. 

Monday, 13 March 2023

UBC Landscape Architecture Masters students on an Ecopoetry Walk to the Orchard Garden

 On January 23, Susan Gerofsky and Amanda Fritzlan were guests in professor Susan Herrington's theory course for graduate students in Landscape Architecture. After a brief introduction to learning gardens on campus and a Q&A in the classroom, we set out into the fresh snowy day to write some ecopoetry sketches on invisible gardens on campus, with three stops (at the original Orchard Garden site, at the Rhododendron Forest, and finally at the Orchard Garden itself).

Here, with the students' permission, are some of the beautiful, deeply thoughtful and contemplative photos and poems (linked here -- please check them out!) that emerged as part of our workshop. 

Bravo to these wonderful new Landscape Architects, and looking forward to many further collaborations!


Thursday, 9 March 2023

Early March Orchard Garden Workshop - Pruning, Starting Seedlings, and Growing Plants from Food Scraps

Despite snow on the ground and unseasonably cool weather, we met in the Orchard garden last Saturday to prepare for new spring growth. Daniel generously shared his expertise on pruning fruit trees. He guided us through pruning the apple, pear, and plum trees that border the garden.

In the greenhouse, we were met by two resident felines, Charlie and friend, who were happy to have our company on a quiet Saturday morning. Chris led us in starting indoor seedlings (including lettuces, mustard greens, and pak choi) that will be transplanted outside to the Orchard Garden in the next few months. 

The incredible method of growing plants from food scraps stimulated our discussions as well. Examples that I had started in my Scarfe office window of pak choi at one week and then again one month, along with beets, carrots, and lettuce - all grown from food plant ends and cuttings that would regularly be tossed out of the kitchen - inspired personal stories, conversation of food waste and security, and ideas for classroom winter gardening.

We are ready for spring!!

Tuesday, 28 February 2023

January Workshop - The Winter School Garden, Seed Exchange, and an Introduction to Chinese Traditions of Teas

                                                                                                        We began our day with a  tour of the Orchard Garden garden. The green of the winter kale plants was glowing beneath the overcast January sky.

Librarians Saeyong Kim and Wendy Traas introduced us to the seed lending libraries at the Education and Woodward Libraries.

Chris shared his expertise on Chinese traditional herbs and Chinese traditions of tea.

Thank you to everyone for coming out and being a part of the Orchard Garden community. We are looking forward to several more workshops in the spring months, rain or shine (or snow).

Monday, 31 October 2022

The Orchard Garden in October 2022: Fall Colours, Final Harvest, and Late-Season Figs!

Visitors to the Orchard Garden in past Octobers would have been wise to gear up in raincoats and water-proof shoes. Not so this year, where the sweetness of summer lingered late, well past the middle of October. The crispness of these early autumn days was supercharged by the months-long drought that had hit British Columbia, which worked to extend the growing season, and defer the spectacle of leaf senescence. Vegetation remained mostly lush and green with a little help of some daily watering--as did the weeds!

Many vegetables planted out in August were still happily growing under the warm temperature regime. On October 18, volunteers from the Roots on the Roof garden helped us with our final harvest of the year: Beets, turnips, Gai Lan broccoli, kohlrabi, and lettuce. Much gratitude to Roots on the Roof for the help! The harvested produce was distributed to UBC-student run cafes, the community food fridge, and some programs in the Downtown Eastside.

Finally there came the rains, spelling the end of the drought, and ushering in the true hues and blues of fall. This transformation of the landscape is an invitation for us to likewise return inwards, regather our energies, and start planning for the following season. A small bounty of figs surprisingly ripened in the end of October, a delicious reminder of summer. 

Friday, 7 October 2022

Student Visit from the Vancouver Summer Program

On August 8, 2022, the Orchard Garden hosted a visit from a cohort of students, and Professor Traci Baillie, from the UBC Vancouver Summer Program. This program is a four-week experience for international undergraduate students at UBC wherein they enroll in two classes, and engage in social and cultural activities both on and outside campus. The cohort that visited the Orchard Garden that day had an especial interest in learning about gardens, their many usages and users, and had also visited UBC Farm, and the Roots on the Roof garden. They were kind enough to leave us some feedback regarding their experience at the garden. We thank the students for their visit, curiosity, and feedback, and thank Professor Traci Baillie for arranging this visit with us, and her enthusiasm for the Orchard Garden!

"It’s impressive how much effort they put into planning & constructing the garden! I appreciate the teaching about the background of the use of traditional herbs." -Audrey

"I found the beauty of Orchard Garden enchanting in such a wonderful location. Chris’s enthusiasm for his traditional Chinese medicine plants is awe-inspiring." -Ayyub

"Thank you for the sharing in the garden. It was an insightful experience visiting that I get to know more about the different herbs and the way of plants. It is nice to know that both teachers and students are included in this garden-based education to have all kinds of activities. I enjoyed it a lot!" -Wendy 

"Chris was very knowledgeable with TCM related plants and he showed us variety of unique plants such as the lemon herb plant and black tea plant. Overall an enjoyable experience!" -Keene

"Our visit to Orchard Garden was a unique and enriching experience for us, and we're thankful to have had the opportunity to visit and learn more about the different parts of the garden and the workshops that were available! Thank you Chris and team for the memorable experience!" -Kellie

"Orchard Garden had provided an enriching tour! It was interesting to get to know the different personal projects and sustainable efforts the gardeners have put in. This experience opened my eyes to behind the scenes of how organic food is grown and sourced!"  -Diyanah

"It was an insightful time at UBC’s orchard garden as we learnt a lot about sustainability and the hard work that goes behind taking care of the beautiful crops. My best takeaway was definitely witnessing the speaker’s passion for his job as it was heartwarming watching him share about his work with much joy and sincerity!" Sarah 

Tuesday, 27 September 2022

Fall in the Garden

 Welcome to Fall in the Orchard Garden

Saturday workshops throughout the 2022/2023 academic year and the Community Field Experience for the BEd students in May and June will be organized by Dr. Amanda Fritzlan while Dr. Susan Gerofsky is away on sabbatical travels.

You can contact Amanda regarding the workshops at