Monday, 30 April 2018

CFE Day 6: April 30, 2018 - Rope Making

Ropes are so often used and a technology I entirely took for granted until my thumb/hand began to cramp from my efforts to create one small length of 2-ply rope. No wonder humans made machines to make these! It is very amazing and humbling to think that a tool so easily created from such different mediums so readily and rather easily found in nature, or in our 2018 lives from the up-cycled 'garbage' of our society,  changed the way humans lived entirely. Being the foundation from which so many other technologies and advancements built upon, simple footwear, transportation of people and goods, in food gathering, animal domestication, etc. the simple rope is a wonderful skill to teach and learn that can connect people to their roots. It is also personally quite satisfying to have created something so useful. The idea that early groups could traverse mountain ranges, deserts, and entire oceans in humanity's exploration and settling around the globe, with the help of grasses, vines, and roots in the form of rope is awe-inspiring.

The curricular applications of rope-making are huge and extensive and can be directly tied to any garden. The struggle to have continuity in a school garden could be partially remedied by the idea that even from a garden that seems a dead, useless patch of (frozen) dirt, something so useful can come from it. Rope making exemplifies the old saying "one man's trash is another's treasure". From humanities and the development of cultures in different parts of the world, to math in the rope itself, the art of rope, to the science of how rope can be improved or adapted for different purposes, rope-making is a rich area in which teachers can connect their students to the earth, to history, and to each other. There is potentially no other technology so varied while so unifying between so many different environments, time periods, cultures, and lifestyles, not to mention teachable subject areas. For IEP and ELL students, the physical activity and potential to relate to this universal tool could be a very useful stepping stone in their learning devlopement.

Within my field of physics, it would be a very interesting class and lab/inquiry activity to test the structural integrity and strength of different materials and rope-making methods within the topic of energy. The idea of the potential energy within the twisted strands opposing each other would be a fantastic real world application of a rather abstract concept which could further relate into other physics concepts like work and kinematics. Furthermore, it could be used to link to so many other cross-curricular such as math (structures and shapes of rope), biology (nature of natural materials), art, and literature. For all of the more famous science experiments and discoveries in history, it would be very interesting to have the students research how many were directly or indirectly related to the technology of ropes!

Sunday, 29 April 2018

Upcoming: Morris Dance May Morning festivities this Tuesday May 1, Windermere visit Wednesday May 2

Thanks so much to all the teacher candidates in
the secondary Community Field Experience (CFE) for a great first week and for your very interesting posts here!

Thanks too to members of the Orchard Garden team -- Tathali, Sam, Ele, John, Jo, Tsubasa and to Amanda and Joe who came and danced with us Thursday -- and to Tiddley Cove Morris Dancers Marcia, Vee, Valerie and Ele, to Burnaby North student filmmakers Roanna, Jhaycee and Nikita, and to our Roots on the Roof guide, Raihan.

This Tuesday is May 1, which counts as the first day of summer in many northern agricultural traditions. For those hardy souls who don't mind getting up 'long before the day-o' once a year, you are welcome to join Tiddley Cove Morris Dancers, Vancouver Morris Men and Little Mountain Step and Clog to dance the sun up at Trimble Park, 8th & Trimble (in Point Grey), at the basketball court area. We will be there to start dancing by 5 - 5:30 AM, and there is lots of opportunity to sing along, drink tea (bring a fancy teacup if you've got one), and perhaps eat a hot bagel (new tradition...)

We'll have breakfast and more singing at the Café Zen on Yew Street near Kits Beach at about 7 AM, and you're welcome to join in there too. Finally, we will all meet at University Hill Elementary School at 9 AM for a 9:15 - 10 AM Morris May Morning celebration with three classes of primary students and teachers there.

On Wednesday May 2, we are now booked for a visit to Windermere Secondary School's learning gardens and orchard! Thanks to Brendan Chan, Karen Chong, Tathali Urueta and others for helping make this happen. We will meet at Windermere Secondary (3155 East 27th near Renfrew) in the front lobby at 8:45 AM for a 9 AM tour with Brendan, and will spend the day nearby at Renfrew Ravine and around the neighbourhood. We will finish up earlier on Wednesday, around 1:45 - 2 PM.

See you soon!

Saturday, 28 April 2018

CFE Day 5: Roots on the Roof and Community Engagement

Today wrapped up our first week of the CFE at the UBC Orchard Garden - time sure flies! After spending time earlier this week thinking about what we would hope for our school gardens, and how we might make those ideas a reality, it was encouraging to see what is already being done in our community

Roots on the Roof is a student-run garden which is located on the roof of the Nest on UBC campus, and is a fabulous example of how to grow both food and community centered around a garden. The garden has partnerships with independent, sustainable cafes on campus such as Sprouts and Agora, and also provides food to the UBC Food Bank and other community initiatives to keep food accessible and affordable on campus. You can check out Antony's post for more details on Roots on the Roof's community involvement below! The success of Roots on the Roof's partnerships speaks to their ability to grow a significant amount of food, but I think what stands out even more, and what I want to take to my own school gardening efforts, is the thoughtful design, which makes it more than just a garden.

When deciding what to plant, Roots on the Roof considers the needs of the community on top of what is in season. For example, kale is a plant that grows quickly and produces a lot of food, making it ideal to support the garden's many partners. The beds themselves are also thoughtfully designed. There are no straight, grid-like rows of crops like you might expect from a garden that produces so much food. In facts, all of the beds are curved, and flow in a way that feels natural and organic. The feeling you get simply from walking through the garden is far more pleasant than a similar, more rigid garden would give. In the picture to the right, you can see one of these beds, which curls into a spiral, which connects to "the heart of the garden" (which used to actually be heart-shaped). The playfulness of the design truly transforms the space. 

But the space surrounding your garden is important too! It can be tough to keep engagement with a garden outside of the growing season, without the excitement of the harvest. I think Roots on the Roof has done a great job of making it a community space even beyond gardening itself. On the gate of the garden, you can see a patchwork knit quilt covering the chain link fence. Each square was knit by a different person, during workshops led by one student with a particular talent for knitting. The assembled quilt reflects the diversity in the community that came together and created something that will be part of this space for seasons to come. I think this is a perfect example of how to unite a community or class in a common space, building something greater than the sum of its parts, and really creating a sense of belonging in that space.
To this end, the garden also has a collection of personal stories, submitted by members of the community, adorning the rest of the fence on honeycomb tiles. These individual stories are presented in a way that increases the visual appeal of the space, but more importantly, visually demonstrates how people from all walks of life are connected to the earth which grows our food.

If you want to learn more about Roots on the Roof, check out their Instagram @rootsontheroof, or find them on Facebook

Friday, 27 April 2018

CFE Day 5 - Friday, 27th April 2018. Visit to the Community Garden atop the AMS Nest by Antony José Ma Junior.

CFE Day 5 - Friday, 27th April 2018.  

Visit to the Community Garden atop the AMS Nest Building.

       Tathali Urueta-Ortiz (PhD) provided a detailed introduction into the concept of the Community Garden. This is followed by a tour of the community open air garden on the 4th floor of the AMS Nest building managed and maintained by the student club "Roots on the Roof". There, we learnt that various crops such as herbs, kale, tomatoes, garlic, etc, are being grown and are distributed to food banks such as the UBC Food Bank and to the Community Support Agriculture (CSA) as well as to the student led restaurants "Sprouts" and "Agora" including the Market Stands on the ground floor of the Nest building. Here are six photographs that depict the community garden called Roots on the Roof on the 4th floor of the UBC AMS Nest building, just outside the UBC Osprey Occasional Childcare centre:

        On reflection, the community garden is an initiative that addresses food security through community engagement. The garden itself is a functioning model of food sustainability that also serves as a conduit of connectivity in the surrounding community. Ultimately, the concept is that the garden itself is a tool or a means to an end: community cohesion for food security. It therefore provides ample opportunities for students and teachers to explore food issues in their communities such as high food prices leading to food insecurity. Social inequality is of immediate concern as it affects access to nutritious foods thus causing people to opt for cheap and convenient "foods" such as McDonald's for their children. Social inequality also entails parents working two jobs that leave them no time and energy to shop for nutritious food and to prepare them for their children. Thus the garden allows for students to identify their food issues and to study and research food nutrition in order to learn about the quality of the food they eat.

     The Nest community garden itself is a model for food accessibility to students and Faculty in the UBC community. The garden creates and maintains community by connecting members of the community such as the businesses that donate the seeds to those receiving the harvest. Hence the garden makes people in the community feel connected, engages the community and receives income from the Market Stands and CSAs for its own sustainability. It also allows the students that maintain it a sense of ownership. In engaging the community, school children are afforded opportunities to connect with the food they eat such as pulling out a carrot from the ground. Such a learning experience enables them to appreciate the food they eat and not to take it for granted.

      English Language Learners (ELLs) and students on an IEP would also benefit from a school based community garden such as in the case of Windermere Secondary School in Vancouver (Chong, K). Students plan their own garden clubs and are then tasked with developing their own core competency skills. Examples include ELL students from overseas connecting their gardening culture to the local gardening culture. In the process, the garden itself is a tool to create topics in oral conversations (oral language skill competency) as well as for writing observations and reflections (written language skill competency) that could involve practicing the use of adjectives and even picking up new vocabulary. The garden could also extend to English literature where students could appreciate poems read under a tree and make aesthetic connections with the community as well as to Shakespeare as an example via a Shakespeare garden drawing on the Bard's plays on nature. These are but just a few reflective examples of community connections and engagement with the garden at the very centre of such social cohesion.

Submitted by Antony José Ma Junior, at UBC Vancouver, Friday 27th April, 2018.

Thursday, 26 April 2018

Morris Dancing - CFE Day 4: Written by, Anh Hoang & Chanelle Brown

Today we were delighted to learn about and take part in a traditional English folk dance, known as Morris Dancing. 
Historically, people living on farms were very aware of the inconsistency of farming and how some years crops may be very prosperous and other years, they may not be so fortunate. Therefore, Morris Dancers created a ritual dance that they believed could magically impact a successful crop season!

Certain dance movements were used to send away any bad spirits who could would ruin the crops - using bells and hankes. They would also jump high to encourage the crops to grow up and strong. The Morris Dances would typically have different dancers for certain seasons but it traditionally began on May Day (the first day of May) - Vancouver's first day of summer in the agricultural world. 
Different dances for different times of the year but traditionally it would start on May Days for the summer. Morris dancers on May 1st get up before dawn and perform these ritual dances to ensure that the sun comes up for the next year and to celebrate the beginning of summer.

We also learned about Mummers plays, which were practiced in countries like England and Ireland, and even Canada - specifically Newfoundland. Around holidays like Christmas and Easter, people would get dressed up in costume and disguise and surprise people in their homes with a play - involving morris dances and songs that everyone knew already. We learned that in Vancouver you can see a comical play similar to the traditional mummers plays. 

After we learned about the history of Morris Dances, we were fortunate enough to have Morris Dancers come to the Orchard Garden and teach us a couple dances.
Today was an amazing experience to learn about and participate in a tradition that is so rich in history, and still continues across the world today. We have learned a lot about the physical aspect of agriculture and planting, but had yet to discuss the spiritual side and the magic of growing crops.

To end the day we got to weave ribbon together by weaving in and around each other. I couldn't help but think how great this activity would be for a community building lesson in the schools - insinuating a close knit community within the classroom. 

Wednesday, 25 April 2018

Day Three of Our CFE!

Every spring my grandparents  start their garden. Each and every year it is abundant and provides produce for them and their neighbors through the summer months. I knew they would  "prep" for their garden, but it never occurred to me the amount of planning and consideration it actually took. Today, while our group was learning about crop rotation and the methodology that one would have to consider, I was instantly empathizing with my grandparents. I am excited that what I'm learning here during my CFE will act as language I can use to communicate better with them, and offer as a way for me to be even more appreciative for their garden's success.

I am genuinely intrigued with how much a school teacher, a SECONDARY school teacher can do by using a garden as a learning tool. These past three days have opened dozens of pathways and introductions into a world that is both simple and incredible resourceful. Simplicity and abundance come to mind when I think of garden based education, and the two coincide when you think of a successful garden. 

It is also rewarding to see how well our group is doing in the garden, and it is all a factor of the tremendous guidance from Sam. He will be missed; he's set us up for success!

            Today was day three in the gardens and once again another day of learning. I learn something new every time I’m in the garden. Today we covered crop rotation and how vital it can be for your garden. The idea that even growing something in a different spot in the garden bed the following year shows how intricate and complex gardening can be. I honestly think I fantasized about the idea of always having my own garden, but I’m only just realizing how much work it is!

            Another thing I found fascinating was the idea of nourishing and replenishing your soil in the winter time. So, using sugary leaves and laying them on top of the soil as a blanket is actually nourishing for the soil! It just is interesting that you can recycle and use things in nature FOR nature. It comes full circle, and I really think that fits in with the idea of gardening being cyclical. Overall, it was an interesting day, and I can’t wait for tomorrow!

- Lovleen and Navi 

Welcome to the 2nd day of Community field experience at The Orchard Garden, UBC ( my two cents..)

Welcome to the 2nd day of Community field experience at The Orchard Garden, UBC ( my two cents..)

Once again we all started off with a great sunny day today. It was very interesting to learn the historical importance and context of community gardens through the nicely referenced presentation. To me, it was a great enlightenment towards the origin of word Kindergarten which derived from German language and used widely in all the part of the word. It was a great surprise to learn some word which I always wanted to know when I was in school but never had a chance to explore. Finally, I know what its mean by LKG or UKG and why it’s deeply rooted in garden symbolically. I would like to share that origin of place-based or garden-based education system is historically very well recognized system of early education (elementary) in different parts of the world which we often get unnoticed.

Today’s exercise on the building imaginary school garden was a perfect example how one can really appreciate the “Romantic Pedagogy” in the process of learning and is equally validate its purpose for all kinds of learning and not just limited to school (elementary school children).  It was fascinating to see how different imaginations on the dream school garden project were distinct in their own ways but keeping inclusivity and catering the diverse level of learners. The image of our dream school garden is attached herewith for your glance. The main highlights of this dream school garden were to use the underutilized space (which we often find a problem finding one) and with perennial access by installing open and closed greenhouses supplemented by many other fine details which you find noticeable such as the installation of micro-met-station for weather monitoring in the garden area.

During our work party in the Orchard garden, we learned how to efficiently water the plants using the system of drip and sprinkler system. Not to mentions watering plants, could be very labor intensive in longer run without such support system. We learned to minimize the levels of weeds by using the combination of cartons and mulch. The picture below depicts the process carrying out the same. 

Tuesday, 24 April 2018

Day Two Reflection: History of School Gardens

The history of gardens as used as a learning tool, or rather, an entire learning facility as it were, was fascinating. As a non-german speaker, the term 'kindergarten' was synonymous with educational prep-school for children to prepare them for the rigours of actual structured school. Now knowing the literal definition, it is amazing how far away the concept has strayed in North America from its original purpose of bridging the gap for children from their home to school by means of exploration.

The benefits and cross-curricular attributes of a school garden seem rather clear for all levels, ages, and abilities of students. From the pure gardening skills, to the connection between students and their planet, and to further educational opportunities for science, art, business, etc., the garden seems to have hardly any boundaries to learning, once established.

One of the largest hurdles of school gardens seems to be the buy-in of administrators, communities, and as a personally new perspective, parents. Aside from the time, space, and monetary investment hurdles, it was most surprising to think of a school garden from the perspective of immigrant parents who want better for their children in their North American lives than the perceived toil in an agricultural setting, such as a garden.

It seems, as it commonly is with any new initiative, marketing the idea and concept of school gardens and gaining the buy-in of the stakeholders (admin, parents) and beneficiaries (the students) is perhaps the largest hurdle. How to overcome this hurdle and shake off the conservative, capitalistic attitude of the past is both a daunting and extremely interesting problem to be solved! After our dream garden exercise and the potential new garden spaces in front of Neville Scarfe, one can only hope (and I am very, very loosely quoting here) "if you build it, they will come".

Monday, 23 April 2018

First Day of the Community Field Experience at UBC Orchard’s Garden

The sun was shining and the birds calling… Waleed and I thought to be in Ethiopia to begin of our CFE, however, due to visa difficulties we had to delay our departure. Our day began with introductions, sharing of practicum experiences, and basic safety expectations. One of the first things we did was acknowledging that we were on the on the traditional and unceded territories of the Musqueam people and reflected on this as we prepared to work with and on the land. Then we walked or biked to the UBC farm where we did spend rest of the morning exploring some of the magic corners of it, learning about different plants and herbs that grow there and finally preparing together a delicious green salad (which we all had for lunch). In the afternoon, we got to work preparing the orchard garden for planting onions. Under Sam’s watchful eye, half of our group weeded out the garden beds while the other half cleared away the grass and flattened them. As we worked, some of us reflected on our practicum experience and how our students would benefit from being outside and interacting with natural surroundings. They can learn much through hands-on activities like gardening or build up their sense of curiosity simply by observing plant and insect life. We have discussed how nature can have a calming effect, and yet provide a rich environment for outdoor education and daily physical activity. As we discussed earlier in the morning, we believe that students should know where their food comes from and learn about healthy eating. Digging out the grass, digging out the weeds, turning and flattening the soil, and carrying the plants to the compost helps us to see how much effort is needed to produce our food. Having students work outdoors can help them appreciate what goes into their lunch boxes and hopefully make them more mindful about healthy eating and not wasting food. It was also refreshing to work with and hear different practicum experiences (also from different teachables) since we did not have many opportunities to do so before. Although our cohorts might emphasize different subjects, we all came to the conclusion that gardening is a valuable, soothing, yet stimulating teaching tool which promotes outdoor education, physical activity, and food security. This first day gave us all something to reflect on and inquire about, as it gave us a taste of several possible outdoor learning contexts: the orchard garden and the farm at Landed Learning. As our CFE progresses, we will all be developing our inquiry questions and reflecting on the possibilities for learning and teaching in these varied outdoor learning contexts. I look forward to reading my cohorts’ reflections and seeing how our collective thought develops as we experience the variety of environments the traditional unceded territories of the Musqueam People at UBC affords us as we progress through our Community Field Experience.

-SImon and Waleed

Sunday, 22 April 2018

Thanks to our wonderful Sam, and to the David Robitaille Professorship for a grant to the Orchard Garden

We want to offer a public acknowledgement and heartfelt 'thank you' to the David F. Robitaille Professorship in Mathematics and Science Education and to the current David Robitaille Professor, Dr. Cynthia Nicol, for their kindness in offering us a grant that will assist in the hiring of a student to be the 'guardian of the garden' for the summer of 2018 -- and beyond into the 2018 W1 and W2 terms.

Big thanks to Sam Puddicombe, who has filled the role of 'guardian of the garden' with intelligence, grace and humour and lots of energy this past year! Sam will be graduating soon, and we wish him all the best in his upcoming adventures on Salt Spring Island.