Wednesday, 31 August 2011


Classes officially begin next Tuesday.  Summer is unravelling.  It has been a momentous few months with growing pains for our team and the garden.  A portion of The Orchard Garden has been in existence for 5 years- however the space tripled in size this year.  This has been the first growing season for our new large space and our newly formed interdisciplinary team.  While we have encountered several challenges (from lack of irrigation to aphids, and a shortage of paid labor to multiple paradigms of gardening objectives), we have also accomplished enormous feats such as navigating said challenges, learning to communicate and negotiate, making do with a network of mediocre hoses, and knowing that we have all done our very best to make this space come alive.

As we reflect on the summer, we acknowledge many lessons learned and brainstorm ways to refine our intention.  We also celebrate the dedicated hours of weeding, harvesting, watering, planting, art-making, conversations, and cooking.  Last night was the first evening just for us.  We grilled salmon caught by Leanna on Haida Gwai, ate roasted potatoes, turnips and beets from the garden; Marc baked bread; Julia played violin in the twilight.  Professors and students cleared the dark picnic table and created an assembly line of dishwashing.  Slowly we each made our way home with leftover bits of cherry pie and zuchini, and gratitude for our shared efforts and dedication.

(I would have taken more photos, but I was too busy sipping beer, chopping kohlrabi and nibbling salmon)

Saturday, 27 August 2011

losing sunlight

dusk is falling at 8:30 these days.  a time of languid afternoons and a tinge of cool in the evening air.  late summer crops are finally encouraged by these weeks of sunshine...  there is hope for tomatoes in September!

red zebra tomatoes putting on stripes

harvest bouquets sold at our Friday market


summer squash


stands of wheat- almost ready to harvest

towering sunflowers

our friends, the bees

Friday, 26 August 2011


Foodwisdom, our last summer camp of the season, enjoyed a sunny morning in the garden planting Fall crops (arugula, radish, spinach, mustard, mesclun), and creating a delicious semi-sweet kohlrabi salad with strawberry basil vinaigrette.  With 5 yr. olds in this group being the youngest visitors to the garden, we had an opportunity to reflect on the space as a classroom for many ages and abilities.

Food literacy was at the core of this camp and as such, the children asked great questions and were genuinely excited about their visit.

"Can we make honey?"
"I found a potato!"
"My mom calls me 'sweet pea'."

"I want to plant all the radishes!"
"Does this come before or after the flower?" (poppy pod)
"Do you have any rare vegetables in this garden?"

"I had no idea how sweet kohlrabi was! May I have some more?"
"I don't like the kohlrabi but I like this leaf stuff."  (spinach)

"We eat bitter melon at my home.  My dad eats it in soup."
"Can I eat this flower?"

Recipe:  Kohlrabi, spinach salad with strawberry/basil vinaigrette

large bunch of fresh spinach
2 handfulls sugar snap peas
1 large kohlrabi
handful of strawberries
edible flowers
1/2 lemon
olive oil
pinch of salt
handful dried cranberries

Whisk together lemon juice and olive oil.  Mash strawberries into this mixture.  Sprinkle with salt.  Add sliced basil leaves.

Peel kohlrabi bulb.  Chop into small cubes.  Slice peas on a diagonal. Tear spinach into large bowl.  Add kohlrabi, peas and edible flowers.  Toss with dressing.  Sprinkle with dried cranberries.  Enjoy!

*A thank you note from Francesca, Director of Foodwisdom, describing some of the highlights of their week-long food literacy camp:

"...another said planting radishes in your garden. Still another really enjoyed eating the salad that we all made with you. Some of these kids want to come back and see what happens to the seeds they tucked into the Earth’s pocket under your gentle guidance.
We had to give a small talk on the difference between edible flowers and non-edible ones, as eating flowers turned out to be quite a memorable thrill.
Thank you for your generosity of spirit in hosting us."

Friday, 19 August 2011

stir fry at dusk

The Saltwater City Youth Camp (sponsored by the Chinese Canadian Historical Society) made its second visit to the garden on Wednesday evening.  The young campers harvested veggies they planted 3 weeks ago (mustard greens, bok choi, and gai lan) which we stir fried with fresh garlic and ginger under the guidance of one of the camp staffers.  We dragged an extension cord out to the garden to plug in our rice cookers and tea kettles and at sundown we enjoyed a candlelit feast of barbecued pork, duck, chicken, pickled radishes, rice & veggies in ceramic blue & white rice bowls.

The campers also painted signs (in English and Chinese) to label the veggies for future groups.  The discussion for the night centered around the ways in which gardens, farms, and food can connect us to our cultural histories.  Although all of the youth are of Chinese ancestry, many of them spoke of a desire to learn "how to cook Chinese food- my family eats a lot of pasta and bread..."  Hopefully our time spent in the garden inspired an interest to continue discovering the ways in which our many cultures grow and share food.

All of the photos in this post were taken by one young camper who clearly has a passion for photography. Someone get this girl a camera!  Such talent here!

harvesting bok choi

harvesting siu choi


fields of buckwheat

gai lan flowers


learning plant names


our dining room

fresh veggies

preparing gai lan

chopping ginger

learning Chinese characters

painting signs

cleaning greens

outdoor cooking station

stir fry!

setting the table

"it's like camping!"

filling our bowls

a feast

Wednesday, 17 August 2011

teacher education in the garden

The UBC undergraduate course, Environmental Ed. Theory, spent 2 1/2 weeks using the garden as an outdoor classroom for discussion, presentations, planting projects, and even yoga (!).  While the time was split between an indoor classroom and the garden, the students spent regular time outdoors getting their hands dirty.

students weed area to be planted

students plant perennial bee forage & herbs:  echinacea, monarda, heather, lavender, rosemary, chamomile & hibiscus

finished planting

students weed and plant French breakfast radishes (a great quick-growing crop to grow with children and in school gardens.  radishes are harvestable at 30 days)

students wash veggies for salad

mid-morning salad of kohlrabi, sugar snap peas, dried cranberries, purslane & orange vinaigrette

A percentage of their grade was based on "giving back to the garden"- projects that contribute to the beauty and functionality of the garden.  We (and the bees!) are very grateful for the perennial planting bed and hope the students return to visit their plants.  

On a side-note for our team, we regret that due to the late summer schedule (various planned vacations...) we were not able to attend the class each day.  This was a test run for all of us and hope to continue refining our offerings going forward.  We look forward to feedback from the students via reflective journals kept throughout the course.

Sunday, 14 August 2011

dog days of summer...

just returned from an NYC reunion- glad to be back with the bees & buckwheat...  everyone's on vacation right now.  time to reflect, sip, & plan.  lots to catch up on and post here.  several classes and camps have visited the garden and we are now gearing up for the next term.

in the meanwhile, here is Leanna at dusk with dill blossoms :)

and ripening apples to remind us it's nearly September (!)...