Friday, 1 May 2015

Community Field Experience at the Orchard Garden Week 1

For 3 weeks, Jan-Lin and I are immersed in learning about gardening and garden-based education at the UBC Orchard Garden. We are both teacher candidates in the Home Economics program, and we are here for our Community Field Experience, which is an extension of our teaching practicum.

My biggest learning curve this week is getting my hands dirty in the garden. I have never gardened before, so it was truly refreshing and really enjoyable to learn a new skill! We started out by uprooting massive kale plants from last year to clear the beds for this season’s planting (I learned how to drive the wheelbarrow!). We then got busy with weeding and making the beds, which is what we spent most of our time doing this week. We also planted some beets, chard and two types of kale; I’m really looking forward to seeing them grow. 

Garden work is definitely serious exercise, but it’s also really satisfying at the end of the day when we look at what we’ve accomplished. It’s a welcome change of pace to be outside, taking our time working with nature, meeting worms, and saying hello to spiders—it makes me realize how “sheltered” my regular lifestyle is from all the world’s diversity of organisms.

Making snacks for the Intergenerational Landed
Learning Project at the UBC Farm
On Wednesday we visited the Intergenerational Landed Learning project at the UBC Farm, and got to witness and participate in a wonderful program where children and elders meet and collaborate in garden work. With my cooking background, I helped the kitchen with snack preparation. We made “sorbet” by putting nothing but frozen fruit (from the farm, of course) into a juicer, and out came a creamy, smooth healthy sorbet made with no added sugar…well, apart from the rhubarb sauce and the strawberry jam we put on top! But the most fascinating thing was seeing a complete cycle of food: the farm’s produce getting turned into food that feeds the very people who worked to grow them.

Today we met with the passionate and knowledgeable Kwesi Yaro to talk about school garden program in Ghana. Food production gardens were mandated for families and schools as a policy to help people become self-sufficient in times where food shortage was a national concern. In Canada, we may not have a food shortage crisis, but we may have a “food disconnection crisis” where people are no longer involved in anyway with the food that feeds them. I think growing your own food serves to remind us of our connection to our food and therefore the value of the land. 
Craft in the garden: Jan-Lin with her aboriginal
woven seed bag in the works, taught to us by Ozlem.

I’m leaving this week with a realization that school gardens are a multi-purpose resource, and people from various backgrounds can start gardens with different objectives that are relevant to their unique situation: instilling environmental awareness, promoting healthy eating, promoting physical activity, fostering connection with nature, using gardens as a resource for experiential learning, and of course, simply to feed people. 

Looking forward to week 2!

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