Saturday, 1 December 2012

Workshop Series #3: Garden Ecosystems and Soil Health!

The third session of the Workshop Series took place on December 1st 2012. This session mainly focused on understanding garden ecosystems and the concept of soil health. We started the session with discussing the connections between all the elements in a garden ecosystem. We also had a conversation about the cultural significance of soil.

Web of life activity, using Julia's threat that was made from the flax grown in the Orchard Garden

One would think that fall is a time for the garden to rest and there is not much to do or learn from the garden. However, if we take a closer look at the complexity and interconnectedness of soil and try to understand it as a source of life, we realize that we have a great learning opportunity and an important task to accomplish during the cold months. In order for the garden to flourish in the spring, we need to protect the garden's soil in fall and winter. 

Art Bomke explaining the basics of Soil Science

We were lucky to have Art Bomke, soil scientist and professor at the faculty of Land and Food Systems as our guest speaker to discuss the basics of soil science and the history of the Orchard Garden at UBC. Most of the students were willing to feel the soil between their fingers to get an understanding of the soil texture.

As a part of the hands-on activity, students helped protect the soil by using the "Mulching" technique. We Mulched some parts of the garden using saw dust.

Pile of saw dust waiting to get spread over the garden

At the end of the session we harvested kale and made "Kale Massage Salad".

Kale at the Orchard Garden

Getting excited about massaging kale

Massaging Kale

“Starting off with the web, put my mind into thinking about the interconnectedness of things, and I enjoyed hearing from Art about the science and the holistic view. I like the idea of talking to the shop teacher to build things for the garden, seeing if maybe we can analyze the soil in the chemistry or biology class, and building a community within a school around the garden. Building that web is a great idea. It’s brilliant!”

"I think this workshop was my favorite one so far, and it’s because I spend a lot of time messing around the garden. I know I was just shoveling sawdust, but this is what I’m after: I really want the physical connection. I want to be involved in seeing these things grow from the ground up. And I too really enjoyed Art.”

“I really enjoyed these workshops and I learned a lot and specially when the professor was talking about  the history of the land. That’s something that I totally would have not even mentioned to my children. And the importance of dirt! I learned a lot today and my favorite part is always the meal.”

“I really liked listening to Art Bomke’s speech. So many amazing things! Talking about pH of the garden and how important it is to keep that under control. To think about the history of the land even before you start in the garden. You can get so excited, but forget the components and how the land was used before. His talk about pH was really relative to my curricular area of science and I was just thinking about bringing some of those aspects into my classroom. I also liked getting in the dirt, because I think some of us, myself included, we don’t play in the dirt and we don’t touch it and we don’t realize that there are all these little organisms living inside of it. That was fun. I wish we could do more of that.”

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