Sunday, 25 June 2017

Summer Solstice

Today for our community field experience we had to host our event. Our event was the Summer Solstice at the Orchard Garden. Therefore, our team had to arrive bright and early at the garden to begin set up. We arrived at 8 am to start off our beautiful morning. The sun was shining and it was wonderful! We couldn’t have asked for better weather. Soon after we began to set up the tents and tables at which we each had an activity. Our activities for the event were as followed; one station we had paint chips and the children or adults were to find in the garden matching colours. The second stations were making newspaper pots and planting out own seed. The following station was sketching some vegetables from the garden while the last station was making your own herbal bouquet to take home.

Once the stations were set up the next step was setting up the food. This was our biggest task for the day. We wanted to celebrate the garden, so we harvested some fresh vegetables to make a salad for the guests as well as herbs to flavour our water. The rest of the food was homemade goods and dips to go along with the wonderful bread we were lucky to have donated to us!

Soon after the set up was completed our guests began to arrive, one of the first ones being the UBC Osprey daycare centre. They arrived with six eager children who we rotated around to tour our stations. In the time they had we were able to have them make their own herbal bouquets and make newspaper pots. We also had an opportunity to give them a tour of our garden and read them a story in the shed for a while deserved break from the sun.

We had many other wonderful guests who were able to join our celebration. Our guests included members of the community, as well as students and faculty me,bets of UBC. Although our event took place on the 23rd, we were still celebrating the Summer Solstice/ longest day of the year. Our event included posters, informational material and education talks surrounding the significance of the solstice as well as the value that the Orchard Gardens has to the UBC community. As future educators, we learnt the value of hosting an event, and providing education on a subject that is so strongly tied to place and the Earth. We hope that all of our guests left with new knowledge and perspective that they did not have before! 

One of the highlights of our event was the opening speeches and the wonderful Solstice celebration dance that engaged all guests and Teacher Candidates. The event was informative, unique and fun! For our future career in teaching, we have also gained valuable knowledge on how to integrate the community into our teaching and learning. I believe that we will all take away the importance of being part of a community and place, and how these connections can help teach children!

The event was a success and we are grateful for everyone who came!

Meg and Laurence

Thursday, 22 June 2017

CFE Day 13 National Aborogianl Day June 21st 2017

Happy National Aboriginal Day! Today we celebrated Canada's Indigenous Peoples at Trout Lake. It was a beautiful event on the lake that hosted many Indigenous vendors, artists, and musicians. The intricate artwork and jewelry the vendors were selling were amazing to see up close - such detail and care! One of my favourite artworks that I saw that day were some beautiful button blankets made by a wonderful Haida Elder. Before I started teaching in my practicum, my class was learning about salmon and the importance of them in Haida culture. As an activity, they created their own button blankets with a salmon design on them. They turned out amazing and the students were really proud of them. It was quite special to see an authentic button blanket in real life after doing this activity in my class. They are so beautiful and I can appreciate the care and time it takes to create them.

It was an incredible experience to see Indigenous peoples being celebrated, honoured, and supported in our community. I was trying to describe my experience to a friend later that day and I had a difficult time putting into words the vibes and the feelings that radiated from the park that day. It was a powerful feeling of  community - people greeting one another, embracing each other, meeting new people, being proud of who they are and what they created. It was a sincere honour to be a part of it. I couldn't help but think about how happy everyone looked, how this is what their everyday lives may have looked like if settlers had not come, and what a tragedy it is that this event only occurs once a year. I left with mixed emotions - National Aboriginal Day is a step towards reconciliation but it is not enough. I am eager to participate, learn, and above all, listen, to ways in which we can move forward on our path to reconciliation. 


I went to participate in National Aboriginal Day in Musqueam on Unceded and Traditional Territory of the Musqueam people. The pride my community demonstrated is quite an honor being part of a strongly connected community. The morning started out with a Honoring our Elders Ceremony, for elders born in the 1940's. The guests in attendance are witnesses to the ceremony, and Musqueam's recognition is part of teaching traditional cultural protocols about respect for elders to all people.

Learning about the cultural events that take place in the community are extremely important learning opportunities for our Musqueam youth. Children of all ages are constantly reminded of who we are as Musqueam people through culturally significant events. Community gatherings provide the ability of Musqueam people to show the collective cohesiveness, and how we all come together to teach, instill, share and make meamingful relationships. A fresh seafood lunch, music, games, and information tables allowed for many opportunities to engage in various activities throughout National Aboriginal days events in Musqueam. We learn everyday and we continue to learn constantly throughout our lives.  

Sara. L

Tuesday, 20 June 2017

CFE Day 12

Today was primarily a planning day for both the Summer Solstice and the Gardening Workshop events that will occur this upcoming Friday June 23rd and Saturday June 24th. We started off the morning with Susan reviewing final details in order to make the appropriate adjustments prior to the events. As we are a part of the Solstice group, our blog post will focus primarily on how our day went and our planning progress.

Our group members decided we would able to cover more material if we distributed our work evenly amongst ourselves. Two members of the group went to the Orchard Garden to do inventory and insure that everything we need for the event is there. The rest of us stayed behind at Scarfe creating posters containing facts and a poem about the solstice. This planning process parallels unit and lesson planning because there are plenty of little details/ factors to consider. For example, food, advertisement, music, materials necessary for our stations, etc. Very much like unit and lesson planning, organizing these events involves a lot of team work and collaboration amongst team members. After today, as a team, we feel prepared and are excited for our event on Friday.


Hoda and Sara.T

Monday, 19 June 2017

CFE - Day 11

Our Monday morning started with a lesson on rope making and braiding from Susan. We took long, dry leaves, soaked them in water, then - using the reverse wrap method - we braided them into rope which can then be used as bracelets. It was interesting to see how material that would otherwise be discarded or used as compost can be fashioned into something useful or decorative. I also thought that this would be a great activity for fidgeters such as myself.

We also watched a video which pointed out how rope is perhaps one of humankind's earliest inventions, apparently dating back around 20,000 years ago. During the Middle Ages, rope making machines were developed. Even now, I would imagine the process of making rope is not much different from how it was done back then.

After creating several lengths of rope, we did a dance somewhat like what is done around a maypole. As we danced, we held a length of ribbon tied around a stick, which resulted in a braid. Depending on what dance was performed, different types of braids were formed. When we danced in a circle, we formed a round braid, while dancing in a line formed a flat braid.

Several aspects of these activities can be incorporated into our classrooms. For one thing, it was satisfying to create something practical and interesting by hand using natural materials. For another, the dance activity teaches physical education, rhythm, and braiding techniques which can be transferred to ribbons or hair. Since rope is an ancient technology, history and science can also be taught.

In the afternoon, Margaret McKeon spoke to us about how outdoor education can be cross curricular and how we might create a cross curricular project that brings in outdoor education. Speaking from her own experience, she discussed how community, the environment, and the classroom can come together to create a project that is cross curricular, experiential, action oriented, place-based, sensory, empowering, and student led.

In our own groups, we discussed how we might create a project that covered 1-2 main subjects in the curriculum (as well as including pieces from other subjects) in a way that would be place-based, community oriented, and student led. Thinking back to my practicum, our final science project for my grade 3 class was to do research and present the findings on a sea creature that could be found in the Vancouver Aquarium. We visited the aquarium during a field trip and used it as an opportunity to do further research before the presentations.  This project tapped into some of the ideas we discussed today, and I have come away with some other ideas of how this could incorporate more outdoor activities, be more place-based, and involve the community.  For example, having the class focus on animals native to our area would have been one way to make it more place-based and likely that the community played a role or had knowledge about the environment and the animals that lived there.

Margaret encouraged us to not be afraid to get outside, to work at making as many community connections and partnerships as you can (but to realize it takes time), and to think about ways that the project can be action-oriented and have a real purpose. It was an inspiring and useful talk and I look forward to taking this knowledge into my future projects and practices.

Sunday, 18 June 2017

Day 10- Eco-poetry

Today we met Margaret in the garden to explore the concept of eco-poetry in the outdoors. After a brief introduction to the topic, Margaret led us to different sports in the garden to inspire our writing.

Using Descriptive Words to Describe a Tree
The first stop was the Birch tree forest, and we were encouraged to use our senses to brainstorm adjectives about the trees based on Smell, Feel, Sound, and Sight.  We all thought this was a great exercise to practice coming up with adjectives for something tangible. Some textural words we used were:hard, solid, rough, flakey. We also tried to characterize the trees with short phrases, showing what our own connections to the trees were.

What words could you use to describe this tree?
For when the majority of us finished, Margaret would play her flute in the distance to signal that it would be time to transition into our next activity.  We all really loved this idea as a call for students to gather as it was so much more relaxing than a bell or clap as well, it provided time to finish work and have a peaceful end of each creative process.

In the next station, we wrote short verses with alliteration in them, using the grass as inspiration. It was nice to spread out and sit quietly in the sun with our thoughts to ourselves. We noted that grass is something that is very common in the city, but we rarely seem to take time to notice its characteristics and details. Taking the time to sit and focus on such a small, menial plant, put into perspective how we should slow down to appreciate the intricacies of nature. Using alliteration, you can notice that the rhythm and flow of the words themselves mimicked the sound in nature, there is rarely a sound that only happens once when we listen.

Beautiful Buttercups Basking in the Bright Sun
Next, our exported adventure took us back into the Birch forest, where we used the trees, leaves, sun, branches, twigs and ground around us as inspiration to write haikus. As Elementary School Teachers we were quite familiar with haikus and as a result many of us wrote more than one.

We found that it was interesting to see how a Japanese poetic form has been translated and used so frequently in schools. As we have seen in last week's visit to Nitobe Memorial Garden,  there is an apparent respect for nature, its state of being and the balance that comes forth from simply observing and noticing natures subtleties.

Story Response
Margaret lead us to the grassy field and shared with us two stories of Eagles. We were told to respond through drawings. We found it fascinating how a verbal story could provoke so many different images. Many of us just spread out and just stared and each movement in the trees, sky, and the ground. We were immersed in the process of creating rather than focusing on the product that was to be created which brought a sense of peace which made everything much more natural.

Free Verse
As we followed the " Path to Verse" going through each station, we were invited to create a free verse poem using the different words, alliterations, and phrases that we had previous created. Given that there were no rules, it was nice to be able to play with words, moments, and moods. We could see how this was a closing piece to the journey that we had taken today, many of us adopted the practice of spreading out into our own spaces in the garden to complete this activity. As a cultural connection, teachers could look at other works of poetry based on nature to form connections based on content or style.

At the end of our eco-poetry session. We debriefed an shared some of our poems with each other and also what we liked about the activity. We all agreed that it was really helpful to have a general focus on what to write on and to be in the space helped us create our poems. We also all liked the level of loose structure that the activity had, in that we knew what the boundaries were, what sound to listen for when to come back, and a general idea of what should inspire our writing. However, the activity was not overly structured as we were allowed to wander and find our own independent peace to write in. This would definitely be a fun way to incorporate outdoor learning into a poetry unit and to build on the core competencies.

We briefly talked about how to organize and create a safe space for learning opportunities like these to occur. Keeping in mind: boundaries, accountability, safety hazards, permissions, and preparations. In light of this conversation, we saw that it required a process to set these experiences up, but when established, they would be easy to maintain.

- Kirstie and Natalie

Orchard Garden Saturday workshop #7: Flax to linen

On Saturday June 10, we were thrilled to have guest artist Rebecca Graham of EartHand Gleaners teach a hands-on workshop on flax processing and linen thread spinning with drop spindles.

Rebecca used flax we had grown in the Orchard Garden last summer and flax from EartHand gardens, brought to campus in the new willow Weaving Wagon and towed behind an electric bike! Participants learned how to ripple, ret, break, scutch, hackle

and spin fibres from home-grown flax plants to make a fine linen thread -- the original 'line'.

John Ames, Julian Yeo and Ele Hendriks organized and ran the workshop, and a great group of teacher candidates participated. Photos below!

Uhill Elementary

Today we starting off by meeting at University Hill Elementary to join in Kate's Foreman's "Outdoor Learning" class. We were welcomed into the Uhill classroom with open arms. When we first arrived we were like a fly on the wall, observing the instructional time and classroom management from Kate.

Kate started off her class by asking the children to reflect on their previous knowledge and to make connections to previous learning from their other classes. The classes focused on learning about slugs, a subject that many students already had a strong background knowledge on. Kate supported the gaps in student learning by oral, visual and written information on the Smartboard in front of the class. The necessary information on slugs and expected behaviour was given to the students in the classroom, before we went outside.

As future educators, we found this time especially interesting. It has showed us that time in the classroom does not have to be isolated from outdoor learning, and instead it can be used as a way to support outdoor learning. For example, the children learnt the features of slugs before going out into nature to find the slugs themselves and identify the features. Had they not had the instructional time in class before hand then the outdoors experience would have been less learning focused. Furthermore, the students are encouraged to let the teacher know with a non-verbal cue when they have made a connection in their mind (by linking their two thumbs and index fingers together). This encourages the students to reflect individually on their learning and independent knowledge.

Once we were outside in Pacific Spirit Park, the goals and expectations for behaviour were clear. The class would be based in their "secret spot" and would be allowed to wander around the park so long as they were within ear shot to hear the "coyote" call from Kate. The children were encouraged to explore, inquire and play until they found slugs. Once a slug was found, the teachers would put a hula hoop around it to keep the boundaries clear. The children loved this time outside!

This teaching method has helped us as teacher candidates to see outdoor learning in action. We learnt the value of setting boundaries and rules to support the learning, to encourage creativity and curiosity, and how to ensure that all students are involved and interested. It was a wonderful experience. There has been tons of learning by the children and us, and we are grateful for the opportunity to attend Uhill!

-Meg and Laurence

Saturday, 17 June 2017

Day 8 - Visit to Musqueam

Today we had the amazing opportunity to visit Musqueam and learn about their culture, history and traditions. 

Musqueam Cultural Centre

Fortunately, a Grade 8 class was doing an educational tour the same time as our group was supposed to do the self-guided tour and their leader, Audrey Siegl, warmly invited us to join them. It was a good omen as to how the rest of the day would go; Audrey was open, honest, brave, and welcoming to us all. She shared her deep knowledge and personal experiences to tell us the story of the Musqueam people.

As an Indigenous student Sara Louie, from Musqueam First Nations in the Teacher Education Program at UBC; the importance of place-based learning is integral to the First People Principles of Learning and Indigenous pedagogy. I have lived in Musqueam my whole life. A visit to my community through an educators perspective awakens my sense of being and future goals within education.
The various opportunities and resources that teachers can make with connections to the curriculum are open to ones creativity in their own pedagogical approach to teaching. Learning about the land and what it means to my community really grounds my connections to my identity. 

Walking through the Cultural centre The City before the City Exhibit and as well as specific points of interest to the community provided excellent learning opportunities to bring back to the classroom.

 I was able to explore all kinds of ways to connect subject/content: i.e History, Social Studies and Art with story-telling and place, Math and weaving with cedar and wool, Science with natural medicines and native plant species, and Language Arts with the Language. I realize that one would need to understand or learn about each of these teaching points first to be able to make connections in the classroom. The tour is an excellent way to begin to learn and it's also a way to gather knowledge of how to teach the local First Nations within the curriculum. 

By the Fraser River in Musqueam

Tuesday, 13 June 2017

CFE - Day 7 Musical Storytelling

This morning, we had a great time with John doing a musical storytelling activity.  We incorporated garden-based learning with different art forms, such as language arts, visual arts  and music. Our task was to create a musical story inspired by something that made us “happy” during our CFE at the Orchard Garden. John wanted us to specifically reflect on the concept of play education, and to recognize the difference between playful/ hands-on and instructional learning. The idea of providing supervised exploration for students in the garden and the classroom is important because students then facilitate their own learning. By doing so, they dig deeper into the material and explore their own wonder. As a result, their learning experience is much more enjoyable.

As a big group we began to brainstorm ideas of what made us “happy” during CFE, keeping in mind that every living thing on Earth has an ideal environment where their events/actions intersect with other life forms. John pointed out that as social creatures, we love stories. Our world/environment is filled with them and can be found in forms such as books, plays and movies. However, stories can be too long and can result in readers losing interest. He explained that children are better capable of remembering events and details that occur in a shorter time frame.  Therefore, by using a 24 hour timeline (e.g. 6am to 6pm), students will be more likely to better focus their ideas and gain more out of an activity. We were then inspired to create a fun and playful one-day timeframe story about a cilantro plant we transplanted in the garden, after accidentally being dug out of a plant bed full of garlic. We ‘rescued it’ by planting it in a location which would provide more sunlight and space for it to grow. We even named our little Cilantro friend Cedric.  Also, in order to bring our story to life, we used various instruments to create a soundscape to highlighting the plot of our story. 

Completing this activity will provide students with the opportunity to be playful by exploring their surroundings through imagination. Students will also identify the elements/structure of a story,  and have the freedom to be creative in the brainstorming process by utilizing different art forms to express their ideas.  Furthermore, this activity could be easily modified for various grade-levels, regardless to whether students are in kindergarten, or in grade 7. For example, for younger students, rather than having them all work on the same aspect of the story, the class can first brainstorm the different parts of the story before being divided into small groups to tackle different aspects of the timeline.

Below is a video of our musical story - "The Flavour of Love - A Modern Day Garden Love Story".



Without a doubt, this is a unique learning opportunity and experience in which teachers can easily incorporate into their future lessons.


Monday, 12 June 2017

CFE - Day 6

We kicked off the morning by thinking about how we might create our own school gardens. I found myself dreaming big; imagining my students and I coming together to tend to and eat from our big and bountiful garden. However, I was gently reminded that this vision takes a lot of work, money, and involvement from many different people to make this a reality. Perhaps I was getting ahead of myself…

Thankfully, Liz Beattie offered us some solid advice on how to make a school garden a reality. You want enthusiasm for your school garden to endure and spread, not fizzle out. So to begin, she suggested that we start small. Plant a seed. Grow something on the windowsill of your classroom. Try a small container gardening program like “Spuds in Tubs” or start with small, moveable containers. Going hand in hand with this advice is: keep the cost down! Free is good. Look for funding, grants, programs, and any community partnerships that can be made that will allow you to access soil, containers, compost, seeds, etc.

Other considerations were how to create and involve a team that can help the garden - from administrators, to teachers, students, parents, custodians, and the wider community. Having a solid team can help carry the garden through busy times, summer holidays, and helps share the work and planning so that enthusiasm doesn’t wane and burnout is avoided.

To end our morning, we made newspaper pots and planted our very own seeds. This is something that teachers can easily do in their classroom and fits with the “start small/free is good” advice we discussed earlier. With a strip of newspaper, some soil, and a few seeds, we had our very own planted seeds to take home, water, and watch over. This was a very simple, satisfying, and fun way to start seeds. It was therapeutic; ripping, wrapping, and crushing the paper to make a small pot. It was fun to play in the dirt, sow the seeds, and hold the finished product in the palm of your hand. I felt very protective of the little seed I potted and transported it carefully home that day.

This was a very enjoyable and realistic activity that teachers can easily incorporate in the classroom and I can see myself doing this with students in the future!

Later in the morning we visited UBC's Nitobe Memorial Garden. Tsubasa gave a brief history of Dr. Inazo Nitobe, his vision of bridging Japan and North America, and the symbolism behind the layout of the garden.

Japanese gardens are steeped in symbolism, and everything from the pebbles to the boulders to the water to the trees represent an aspect of life or nature. For example, the assymetrical layout of the garden represents harmony and disharmony between humans and nature - nature is a source of both life and destruction, and must therefore be respected.

According to Tsubasa, the theme behind Nitobe Memorial Garden is the stages of life. For example, a short bridge at the far side of the pond represents an early (or rushed) marriage. Nearby the bridge is a dead end which represents the teenage years, rebellion, and the struggle of finding their way in life. An island near the entrance of the garden is shaped like a turtle, which represents longevity. A lantern on the island is referred to as a "mother lantern" - the absence of a "father lantern" implies the absence of a father figure in raising a family.

The long bridge which divides the lake represents Dr. Nitobe's vision of being a "bridge across the Pacific." The smaller section on the far side of the garden represents Japan while the larger section closest to the entrance represents North America.

As Tsubasa mentioned at the outset, gardens can be used to teach math and science, and also gives students the opportunity to engage in place-based learning and daily physical activity. But gardens can lend themselves especially well to visual and language arts. Earlier in the morning, we discussed how gardens should not only be for growing food, but also be aesthetically pleasing. Getting students involved in the design of their school garden is one excellent way to develop their visual arts skills. For younger learners, one popular activity is to create a "me flag." Much like the Japanese garden we visited, each symbol and color represents some apect of their lives or their personality. Tsubasa suggested a very similar activity of having students create their own miniature garden which somehow represents their own lives. This not only develops their visual arts skills, but also provides an opportunity to discuss and write about the symbols they chose for their garden.

Sunday, 11 June 2017

CFE Day 5: Roots of Diversity and Soundscapes

Roots of Diversity

Today we discussed an article: " Roots of Diversity: Growing Culturally Significant Plants in the Classroom" by Allan Foster. You can access the article hereThis article discussed the benefits of including plants from different cultures in a classroom garden program and how they might act as a way to welcome and represent diversity in the Canadian classroom. I was curious about what type of plants can be grown on a windowsill, and thought this was a great idea to bring the green outdoors into the inside classroom.

In our discussion, we brought forward questions such as: where to find information on "culturally significant" plants, how can students be more involved in the maintenance of the plants and how to incorporate "Canadian Culture" and Indigenous perspectives in this practice.

Some of our questions raised some concerns regarding things that Teachers should be aware of when beginning a windowsill garden program with plants from different cultures. Our focus was to be careful of cultural appropriation and stereotyping cultures. For example, Kirstie mentioned that although she is a Chinese person, she does not associate with ‘Lucky Bamboo’ and all Chinese people may not associate with this plant in that way. We agreed that it would be a good shift of focus from overarching culture to focusing on the personal connections each student would have with a plant that may or may not include a different culture. 


Finally, during the last part of our discussion we talked about the curriculum connections that can be made with plants and gardening. This was Natalie's favourite part of the discussion as everyone had such amazing ideas about how to incorporate gardening into every subject in various grades! 

In particular, we saw that the concept of the "Pocket Garden" could be a good cross-curricular activity to tie ideas together. We emphasized the importance of getting students to physically engage with plants not just to observe.


 Next we welcomed our guest speaker John Ames, who introduced us to the concept of “Soundscaping”. This is essentially any collection of sounds within a given space, which can be paralleled with the idea of “Landscape” except with sounds instead of visuals. According to John, Soundscaping is based on the idea that using all of our senses instead of just visual helps us expand our perspective of the world around us, and that there is a relationship between basic movements and their sounds. 

We did an experiment were we needed to pair two words: "Kiki and Bouba" to two shapes without any further prompting. Everyone had associated Kiki with the sharp edged shape and Bouba with the blob shape. The word Kiki has quick, sharp intonation ( how its said) whereas Bouba is a softer, more fluid sounding word. John explained that it is a phenomenon where our concept of language reflects the characteristics of the things that we are trying to describe or their functions. 

We transitioned into our Soundscape workshop in the Garden. We took 10 minutes to listen to the sounds around us. Categorizing each sound based on if we considered them Humans, Nature, or Technology. We could represent what we hear in any way we want, limiting the amount of writing we could include. We then got into groups to find materials to replicate the same kinds of sounds we heard previously. 

 Here are two samples of the sounds that we were surrounded with and later created.  Can you tell which one is which?
video video

Some Reflections: Today was a good exercise in awareness, both in terms of our role has teachers as we make curricular decisions as well as on a personal level, how in tune are we with the state of the spaces we inhabit? It was surprising has to how naturally the Garden could be integrated into the curriculum. As the week has gone by, we are all seeing the substantive connections students can make both in the workshops and the hands on gardening itself. 

In relation to Soundscaping, a valuable point to make is that we saw that all things that we associated with nature had their own rhythm that brought calmness. But technology proved to be horribly pervasive and distracting from the other sounds. This is a good lesson for any person to take a moment to stop to listen and reflect on the influence that technology has on our lives regardless if it is in our hands or just around us. 

Pictorial Updates from the Garden:

Swiss Chard is almost ready for harvest!
Zucchini is starting to blossom!
Peas are secured for more steady growth.

- Kirstie and Natalie

Thursday, 8 June 2017

CFE day 4 blog post

Today started off with two wonderful presentations by Kwesi Yaro and Philip Kimani. The first presentation started with introducing to us what gardening looked like within Ghana's educational system. We were informed that after a drought in the 1970’s, the government introduced a new plan called Operation Feed Yourself. This new law mandated that high schools and elementary schools have gardens for teaching and for cultivating as a way of making educational institutions agriculturally sustainable. For the project, most schools were given about 4 acres of garden. Of these four acres, most was designated for growing crops, however a small section of the garden was left untouched and dedicated to teaching and experiments where the students could learn. For example, one grade 7 project was to grow a vegetable in the garden from seed to harvest -- they were graded afterwards on the outcome of their crops.
While learning about the gardens in Ghana we also gained some valuable skills Formteaching out own students in gardens. For example, in his presentation we learned that it is best to show a demonstration to only 2 students at a time while others are working and to get others to come see the demonstration afterwards, instead of just one large group. The main thing about garden teaching is the space we have and we have to make sure we are always using it.
For the second part of the presentation we started learning about gardens in Kenya. This was the presentation we found the most inspiring. We learned that the presenter had started his own school in the desert like city ofVoi, Kenya. The school started with 20 students and has since grown to over 200 students. He talked to us about how the first issue for the school was that they did not have an water source. Transporting water in my the truckload quickly proved to be expensive and unsustainable. However, he explained that once they started getting donations from Canada they were able to afford to create their own water source. The next project was a garden, in fact, this idea had come from the imagination of the students themselves. The students began growing and harvesting kale and progressed to other crops such a step oranges. Throughout this journey the students and teachers learned many things. For example, that watering mid-day was ineffective and the water would just evaporate. They also found that rabbits poo was great as manure for the garden and that their pee was an excellent pesticide. They also planted Moringa, which had medicinal properties and they saw an increase in health among the children once they started feeding it to the students.

After these wonderful presentations we had some time to read some resources on how to use a garden in our teaching. There were some wonderful resources identified while reading. For example, The Garden Classroom by Cathy James. We discussed these resources among the group and next thing we knew it was lunch! Sadly, today there was no time in the garden due to the rain!
- Laurence and Meg