Monday, 11 June 2018

Elementary Community Field Experience - Day 1

CFE Day 1 - June 11, 2018

Welcome to day one of our community field experience (CFE)! It was so wonderful to start a new journey in this teaching experience with friendly faces. It was a beautiful day to be outside and to be able to explore the plants that help sustain us. 

The morning started with a brief introduction from both groups, the UBC Farm CFE joined us in the morning. There was lots of smiles and lots of conversation happening - sharing stories from our 10 week practicum. It was nice for me and Karyn to see fellow students from our KIPP cohort. 

After introductions, there was some information given out regarding resources for gardening and where they are available. Stacy talked about a professional development workshop that the Vancouver School Board offers regarding gardening and bringing it into the school atmosphere - which I think I am definitely going to attend. The other resource she showed was the Gardening Guide. This resource provides lots of information on local plants, it is a local business too! The Garden Guide provides a planting chart which is very useful information. 

As part of our introductory day to the CFE, Stacy led both the UBC Farm and UBC Orchard Garden CFE groups on a mini tour of the UBC Farm Garden. During this tour, we were introduced to a wide variety of vegetable plants, as well as herbs used for natural remedies. The picture below is of leaves from the plantain plant, which possess a Musqueam name -- known as, Frog's Leaf. It is commonly used for soothing bee stings and stops bleeding for scratches. 

We were also introduced to mustard leaves (photo below) and had the opportunity to pick a part of the leaf to taste. 

Pictured below are some of the herbs that were introduced and discussed -- such as, fennel and basil. We were invited to pick a part of each herb plant and determine what herb it was.

Pictured below are a few coriander leaves we picked.

After exploring and discussing the variety of vegetable and herb plants being grown in the garden, Stacy led both groups to a garden bed where edible flowers known as, nasturtium were blooming. Pictured below is Tathali showing and demonstrating for us, the way to properly eat a nasturtium. We were instructed to begin eating the flower from the end where it was picked from the stem. It was discovered that in that region of the flower is sweet because it contains the nectar of the flower.

After the garden tour and the learned plant identifications, we got to harvest some plants and flowers to create a salad. We harvested various kinds of lettuce, snap peas, basil, parsley, cilantro, some edible flowers, kale and garlic. In the pictures below, the left picture is of harvesting edible flowers, the centre picture is of harvesting snap peas and the right picture is of our harvesting buckets. 


After harvesting all our ingredients, the fresh vegetables were washed and the salad was prepared. While that was being done, we made a simple but yummy salad dressing from scratch. It consisted of simple ingredients such as olive oil, vinegar, honey, mustard, the fresh herbs harvested and a dash of salt. 

We enjoyed our beautiful salad and lunch in the meadow of the Children's Garden at the UBC Farm. 

After lunch, we walked to the Orchard Garden and finished with our afternoon in the garden. We were provided a tour of all the plants and fruits growing there such as apple trees, fig tress, peppers, wheat, flax (pictured below on the left), garlic, onion and beets, to name a few.

Pictured below are the leaves from a lemon balm plant, a mint plant, and a sage plant. All were quite fragrant, and we learned that lemon balm in particular is a wonderful natural remedy for headaches and tensions.

After touring the orchard gardens, and learning and identifying the plants, we began our job for the afternoon which was tending to the garden. We all shovelled compost onto one of the unplanted garden beds. It was a huge pile of compost but with everyone's help, it was an easy job. The garden was watered too! And just like that, the day was over!

Overall, it was a beautiful first day to start the community field experience! just in the first day, I have learned more information about the plants we use. For example, I learned that rhubarb, potato and tomato all have mildly toxic leaves - don't eat them! I have learned about the term mulching and the importance of it. Mulching is caring for the garden bed for the winter months when you do not want to lose the importance nutrients. Layers of leaves are placed on top of the soil so that the top soil does not wash away from all the rain (in Vancouver). Mulching is also used to stop the growth of weeds. Placing wood chips on the pathways in the garden, helps prevent the weeds growing. Plus it looks cute!
From my experience today, I can understand the importance of outdoor and hands-on learning for children. I had so much fun exploring and using my senses to interact with different kinds of plants. I can understand why children love working in the garden -- from all the interesting insects to look for to tasting all the delicious plants! The importance of this learning allows for the children to make the critical thinking connections in regards to where their food comes from (gardens vs grocery stores) and to learn the skills in identify plants. One way that I think you can start a garden conversation in the classroom is by composting. This is important because all of Vancouver composts, so even if there is no school garden, there is still a way to start a part of the conversation. It allows them to critically think about how we contribute to the environment around us. One of the teachers at my practicum school had earthworms in her classroom. It interested the students and they learned all about the earthworms and what they do for the environment. It is just a thought of something that might be fun and interesting to do for an initial classroom conversation.
- Chantelle

In reflecting upon our first day of our CFE, I found it to be a day of exploration and new discoveries! While being familiar with some of the vegetable and herb plants being grown, it was my first time trying an edible flower and incorporating it into a salad! Learning about the proper way to eat an edible flower was interesting as I was not aware that there was one. Being a part of the harvesting and making of the salad was fun and enjoyable, because it allowed us to be more hands-on and immersed in the gardening experience, as well as work together towards an end product. During our tour of the UBC Farm garden beds, it was fascinating to learn about each herb plant and ways they serve as natural remedies for various bodily conditions. For example, we were told that the leaves from a plantain plant -- also known as Frog's Leaf, help to soothe rashes, insect bites and cuts.
Our time at the UBC Orchard Garden provided us with more learning experiences! It was fun exploring parts of the garden and gathering knowledge about different vegetable families. Some of the ones mentioned were nightshade vegetables, legumes and brassica vegetables. Learning about each one sparked my interest in discovering the characteristics each vegetable plant in each "family" shares. In thinking about how this could apply to the curriculum and garden-based learning, perhaps one could engage students in learning about the characteristics each vegetable family shares, including ways of distinguishing between the different vegetable families. As part of this learning experience, students could possibly prepare a dish that includes a vegetable from each "family", as well as an assortment of legumes. I look forward to discovering more garden-based learning opportunities, as well as ways to establish a school garden!
- Karyn

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