Sunday, 24 July 2011

Saltwater City Youth Camp

Following on the heels of the CEDAR camp on Friday, yesterday we were joined by a relatively smaller camp as part of the Chinese Canadian Historical Society.  The young teens weeded, harvested and planted vegetables (bok choi, mustards, gai lan) in the Chinese market garden as well as other parts of the garden.  The afternoon culminated with a garden salad using mustard greens and bok choi as well as other standards such as red romaine and radishes.

The historical objective of inviting this camp to the garden is to honour the past and present agricultural contributions of  Chinese farmers in Vancouver as well as throughout the Pacific Rim. As our team is all of European descent we have relied on the expertise of local Chinese farmers as well as board members from the Chinese Canadian Historical Society.  One such expert is UBC History Professor, Henry Yu, who raised an important point as we were about to eat our salad yesterday.  Historically, Chinese would never eat salad or other raw vegetables for the simple reason that human excrement was used as a regular and powerful fertilizer ("night soil"), requiring all vegetables to be cooked prior to consumption.  Not only is this valuable information regarding the multiple ways cultures engage with the land, it also reminds us of the diversity in ethnic cuisines and the farming methods that have informed these traditions.  This project continues to highlight the many ways in which different cultures grow and eat food- a neglected aspect in many learning gardens.

On the campers second visit in mid-August we will be preparing a more traditional Chinese evening meal with vegetables from the garden.

I handed over my camera again today- all photos are from the children in the camp...

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