Monday, 1 July 2013

Creating community through school gardening

I have spent the last week in the Orchard Garden working with a group of fellow teacher candidates from the UBC Faculty of Education to develop strategies for the implementation of school gardens in different school environments. We have also worked to maintain the Orchard Garden by weeding and working with compost, as well as harvesting food crops for Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) and for several celebration activities that have taken place in the Orchard Garden.
Through this experience, I have learned that although setting up a school garden space can be a daunting task for a teacher, garden spaces provide many rich learning experiences for students. Students can explore ideas of biodiversity and mapping in gardens, and can practice observation and planning skills (Here's a great Nature Journaling guidebook by John Muir Laws). They can also try things out in the garden, experiment with plants, their needs and how they grow best. Personally, I believe that children should be able to interact with the natural environment on a regular basis – it is something that I value about my own childhood, and something that I enjoy doing as an adult.

I have learned over the past week that it is possible to set up garden spaces at schools with a bit of hard work and a few dedicated individuals. Community is key in the success of school gardens – students, parents, teachers, staff members and other community members can all become involved in the growth of the garden and it can be a space that welcomes all people and provide a meeting place for community members. Food gardens especially connect people – as humans, eating is necessary to our survival. But, food also provides us with opportunities to explore culture and to connect with others through a shared experience. Creating these experiences for students is extremely valuable in their overall development into caring global citizens. 

Katie Lonsdale, June 27, 2013

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