Monday, 18 May 2015

CFE Week 3: Goodbye to the Garden

Beautiful chive flowers at the Food Garden
section of the Botanical Gardens
Lesson planning again! The culmination of this Community Field Experience is the hosting of the Orchard Garden workshop this coming Saturday. Pailin and I had the privilege of working with numerous brains on what is essentially a giant four-hour lesson plan. We will be teaching about herbs, compound butter and culinary math. Collaboration is probably one of my favourite parts of teaching. With so many brains involved, the lesson begins to be more layered and varied; our lesson plan reflects that through its auditory, kinetic and visual elements. 

Freshly harvested herbs from our garden: dill, cilantro and parsley
As I mentioned in my previous blog post, we had direct planted beet seeds into the soil during our first week and had not seen any signs of growth when we visited last week. This past Monday, Pailin and I visited the garden to give the plants some water. As we neared the plant beds, we saw something that caused us utmost shock and delight: little beet seedlings had sprouted over the weekend! As a first-time gardener, I was pretty sure that we had somehow killed our beet seedlings. Maybe we hadn’t given them enough water. I had all but given up hope on seeing them sprouting.
Who knew that little sprouts could elicit so much excitement?
 The surface of the soil did not reveal to us that the seeds were growing and on their way up to the surface. But indeed they were! As we look at the many students in our classrooms, we also cannot tell by appearances what is going on under the surface. Oftentimes when I teach, I wonder, how much are the students really understanding? How interested are they? There is so much variety in our students, making it a challenge (but a valuable one to step up to!) for us when lesson and assessment planning. 
Our beautiful kale seedlings!

“Isn’t it amazing that all the DNA that is needed for a plant is all right there in a tiny little seed?” It’s easy to take kids’ growth for granted – both their intellectual as well as physical. But it is one of the best moments in teaching, when you see the “aha!” moments and watch them become more mature throughout the year. Students can surprise us with how much they do know and how much they want to know. For example, the elementary school aged students I teach on weekends are constantly asking questions and are bubbling with curiosity. I hope to, as a teacher, encourage students to take the path of lifelong learning.

Practicing for our compound butter demo!
A few simple ingredients can automatically
make a meal fancier!

As we prepared for our workshop, Pailin, Toni and I went to the Orchard Garden to collect some herbs for our compound butter demonstration. We collected some parsley, cilantro and dill from the garden to use for our sample compound butter. It was my first time smelling and tasting fresh dill. How different it is from dried dill! The dried dill I have at home is bland and flavourless, good for aesthetic appeal but doing nothing for the taste buds; fresh dill, on the other hand, is tangy and incredibly fragrant. In the Home Economics classroom, we most often use dried herbs in our cooking because of its low price and its longer shelf life, but if we grew fresh herbs in the classroom, we would have the opportunity to use fresh and fragrant herbs in our dishes as well as learn how to plant and take care of herbs.

Because we wanted to learn more about fresh herbs and their traditional uses, Pailin, Kwesi and I visited the UBC Botanical Gardens for more information. The UBC Botanical Gardens is tucked away south of the UBC Campus and is a beautiful garden full of exotic as well as native plants. It is a “very large walking space” with a variety of plants to look at and is well-kept; we did not see a single horsetail weed! Our reason for visiting was the Physic Garden.

The Physic Garden
 The Physic Garden is surrounded by a neat yew hedge with sections of herbs in concentric circles with metallic plates detailing the various uses of this herb throughout ages past. It’s amazing how many ailments simple natural herbs can cure.
 The past three weeks have been a wonderful transition between the 10-week practicum and the summer school session. The variety of activities we did throughout the past weeks gave us gardening skills that we look forward to passing on to others. We also gained confidence in the garden as we learned how to identify weeds, prepare beds, direct seed, water plant beds and uproot old plants. Pailin and I really gained a sense of ownership of the garden and looked forward to tending it every day. The garden, which seemed an onerous task to accomplish on our first day, became a place that we cared about and wanted to see flourish.  Similarly, as we invest time, effort and care into the students that we teach at school, we also grow to care for them and their wellbeing.
Chive flowers growing in a crack

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