Thursday, 11 April 2013

Arts in the Garden festivities

On Saturday, April 6, The Orchard Garden hosted an "Arts in the Garden" workshop to explore the various ways in which the arts and gardening can intersect to enrich and enliven teaching & learning.

While I helped to organize the day, I admit I had no idea how "epic" the event would be. It started off with Tiddley Cove singers & dancers chasing away the winter spirits to bring out the sun (which worked, by the way! A grey morning turned into a beautiful day).

Elder Larry Grant welcomed the participants to the ancestral, traditional and unceded territory of the Musqueam people. Larry Grant is a skilled storyteller, and wove together the histories of the Musqueam, Chinese immigrants, and other settlers into the stories of what we now call Point Grey. He reminded us of the power of language and actions to connect us to places, something we can all work on learning and enacting more.

Our first set of workshops were themed around the work of the Urban Weaver project. Sharon Kallis taught basket-making with "invasive" English ivy & periwinkle found at the garden (along with Himalayan blackberry, other grassy materials scavenged on site, and willow). These little gifts to the garden hang alongside the bee hives now, if you want to go and see them. Some even have little love letters to the garden attached. Brian Jones shared ancient wheat weaving techniques and stories of creating beautiful objects to house the corn spirit over the winter months.
Lunch came about with a huge fanfare: Orkestar Slivovica! They played music from Ederlezi, a spring festival celebrated by Roma people in the Balkans and throughout the world, while the rest of us ate delicious Indian food with kale salad from the garden.
After lunch, Mind of a Snail led a compost-modernist puppetry workshop using discarded materials and technology: An old projector, a sheet, and fantastical puppets made of recycling and garden materials created a magical theatrical performance (For their amazing "Shadowjam Manifesto" or to set up a workshop, contact: mindofasnail @ At the same time, Ben Pfeiffer explored science through the body and movement. Have you ever been confused about what the equinox and solstice really mean? Ben's workshop brought these distant astrological events into our bodies and made learning unforgettable.

The day ended with a quiet and powerful readers' theatre production of Paul Fleischman's 1997 Seedfolks presented by SFU teacher education students.

Through singing, dancing, disguise, drama, storytelling, weaving, and eating we explored the arts and gardening. What a day! Thank you to all the artists/performers and to the student teachers and participants who attended. We welcome your feedback at

Happy Spring,
Julia & The Orchard Garden Team

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