Wednesday, 26 April 2017

Orchard Garden CFE April 26

Jenny - School gardens in other countries and cultures

For our morning session, we had a guest speaker, Kwesi, who shared about the school gardens in other countries and cultures - in particular, Ghana.

We started off by learning about the history of school gardens in Ghana. It was interesting to see how gardening and farming are very well embedded into people’s daily lives. Even in terms of education, elementary and high school are mandated to have school gardens in Ghana. We looked at an example of a grade 7 science project where students have to grow a named vegetable crop from seed to harvesting. It showed that the Ghanaian education system aims to really encourage garden-based learning by providing a curriculum that revolves around students physically working in the school gardens.

Then we had a discussion about how gardening is different across cultures. Specifically, there was an interesting conversation about how in some cultures, people tend to have dominance over nature by controlling where to grow things, what to grow, how it must be designed, etc. On the other hand, in other cultures, people appreciate the randomness of nature and just let the nature decide on its own.

As well, we also conversed about how different ingredients brings significance to different people. When Kwesi showed us some photos of the trees and crops in Ghana, it was hard for us to recognize and identify what they were because we weren’t familiar with those ingredients. However, they will have a great significance to the Ghanaian people because they depend on those things in their daily lives. It is similar to how Korean people will depend heavily on rice and Korean cabbage (for kimchi) because they are a part of our daily diet whereas it might not be that significant to people from other cultures.

Overall, it was a great session where we got to see a real example of how Ghanaian education system has adopted garden-based learning to its core level and see the great outcomes it has on the students.

Benefits/Outcomes of Garden-Based Learning (as mentioned by Kwei):

  • Some students replicated the school garden in their homes and in the future, they will be able to earn a living (life-long learning)
  • The produce were distributed to the children at the end of each harvest
  • Children learned to appreciate the value of vegetables in a balanced diet
  • Symbol of collaboration between the school and the community

Colin - Tour of Windermere school gardens, greenhouse, composting and orchard
Courtyard Garden
The Green House

In the afternoon session, we went to Windermere Secondary School to have a tour of their school gardens, led by three of the students responsible for running the spaces, allowing us to see school gardens in a local context.

The tour started in a school courtyard where there is a green house, plant beds, along with bushes and trees.  Our guides started by showing us their green house where they get seedlings started on their journey.  It was immediately clear the amount of work that our guides and their fellow students have put into the garden projects, and also the pride that they take in the work they have done.  The projects are student led, through the leadership classes, making the students responsible for planning and implementation of projects and ideas.

Raspberry bushes
After we toured the green house, we continued on to the rest of the courtyard garden, seeing the many plant beds, and raspberry bushes that provide healthy, local food, to the school cafeteria during the growing season.  Because the harvest for some of the plants grown does not coincide with the school schedule, the leadership class has previously organized for the bounty of fresh produce to help the local community, arranging for local charities to make use of the produce.

Solitary Bee Homes

Community and school engagement was a constant theme throughout the tour.  With our guides talking about the garden spaces not only providing food, but also providing a space where learning can happen outside of the classroom.  Where plays for english or drama can be performed, where physical education involves creating and working in the gardens, where you can learn about the needs of solitary bees, and create an art.

The Orchard Garden

After visiting the courtyard garden, we toured the orchard garden, where there were a variety of fruit trees and bushes, and well as even more plant beds.  Occupying a corner of the sports field, in-between a road and a baseball diamond, the space is being utilized in a very nice way.  Providing more food, opportunities for different approaches to gardening, and once again community engagement with signage that informs and engages.
Signs in the orchard
Overall, it was a very successful, inspiring tour.  The passion and dedication that our tour guides had for their projects was evident, and is something that all of us will try to replicate throughout out teaching careers

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