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