Monday, 31 October 2022

The Orchard Garden in October 2022: Fall Colours, Final Harvest, and Late-Season Figs!

Visitors to the Orchard Garden in past Octobers would have been wise to gear up in raincoats and water-proof shoes. Not so this year, where the sweetness of summer lingered late, well past the middle of October. The crispness of these early autumn days was supercharged by the months-long drought that had hit British Columbia, which worked to extend the growing season, and defer the spectacle of leaf senescence. Vegetation remained mostly lush and green with a little help of some daily watering--as did the weeds!

Many vegetables planted out in August were still happily growing under the warm temperature regime. On October 18, volunteers from the Roots on the Roof garden helped us with our final harvest of the year: Beets, turnips, Gai Lan broccoli, kohlrabi, and lettuce. Much gratitude to Roots on the Roof for the help! The harvested produce was distributed to UBC-student run cafes, the community food fridge, and some programs in the Downtown Eastside.

Finally there came the rains, spelling the end of the drought, and ushering in the true hues and blues of fall. This transformation of the landscape is an invitation for us to likewise return inwards, regather our energies, and start planning for the following season. A small bounty of figs surprisingly ripened in the end of October, a delicious reminder of summer. 

Friday, 7 October 2022

Student Visit from the Vancouver Summer Program

On August 8, 2022, the Orchard Garden hosted a visit from a cohort of students, and Professor Traci Baillie, from the UBC Vancouver Summer Program. This program is a four-week experience for international undergraduate students at UBC wherein they enroll in two classes, and engage in social and cultural activities both on and outside campus. The cohort that visited the Orchard Garden that day had an especial interest in learning about gardens, their many usages and users, and had also visited UBC Farm, and the Roots on the Roof garden. They were kind enough to leave us some feedback regarding their experience at the garden. We thank the students for their visit, curiosity, and feedback, and thank Professor Traci Baillie for arranging this visit with us, and her enthusiasm for the Orchard Garden!

"It’s impressive how much effort they put into planning & constructing the garden! I appreciate the teaching about the background of the use of traditional herbs." -Audrey

"I found the beauty of Orchard Garden enchanting in such a wonderful location. Chris’s enthusiasm for his traditional Chinese medicine plants is awe-inspiring." -Ayyub

"Thank you for the sharing in the garden. It was an insightful experience visiting that I get to know more about the different herbs and the way of plants. It is nice to know that both teachers and students are included in this garden-based education to have all kinds of activities. I enjoyed it a lot!" -Wendy 

"Chris was very knowledgeable with TCM related plants and he showed us variety of unique plants such as the lemon herb plant and black tea plant. Overall an enjoyable experience!" -Keene

"Our visit to Orchard Garden was a unique and enriching experience for us, and we're thankful to have had the opportunity to visit and learn more about the different parts of the garden and the workshops that were available! Thank you Chris and team for the memorable experience!" -Kellie

"Orchard Garden had provided an enriching tour! It was interesting to get to know the different personal projects and sustainable efforts the gardeners have put in. This experience opened my eyes to behind the scenes of how organic food is grown and sourced!"  -Diyanah

"It was an insightful time at UBC’s orchard garden as we learnt a lot about sustainability and the hard work that goes behind taking care of the beautiful crops. My best takeaway was definitely witnessing the speaker’s passion for his job as it was heartwarming watching him share about his work with much joy and sincerity!" Sarah 

Tuesday, 27 September 2022

Fall in the Garden

 Welcome to Fall in the Orchard Garden

Saturday workshops throughout the 2022/2023 academic year and the Community Field Experience for the BEd students in May and June will be organized by Dr. Amanda Fritzlan while Dr. Susan Gerofsky is away on sabbatical travels.

You can contact Amanda regarding the workshops at

Sunday, 26 June 2022

Arts in the Garden - Final Workshop

 Submitted by: Shelby, Amelia, Chioten

Orchard Garden has brought such a wonderful experience of outdoor learning, it has provided us with new skills to bring into our teacher toolkits. The hands on gardening brought a deeper connection to the land we have been learning on at UBC  preparing, planting and harvesting food and medicines in the garden. We are grateful for Susan and Chris for preparing this opportunity for our CFE and working along side other teacher candidates who are talented and brilliant, any school or future workplace will be so lucky to have you.

Saturday was our final workshop of our Community Field Experience it was fun and inspiring, we had a great team and we were thinking well wishes to our cohort peers who could not make it. We had bread, cheese and herb water, an estimation game with two great prizes. Beautiful dreamcatchers were created along with stunning art creations with natural paints. We had music in the garden, great conversations and then we feasted! The food was perfect and delicious and prepared by everyone, this garden was alive with people, plants and hummingbirds - migwetch (thank-you).

Thursday, 23 June 2022

Summer Solstice Celebration at the Orchard Garden (Thursday, 23 June, 2022)

Good day everyone :)  Kate and Tammy would like to start our post with a land acknowledgement:

We would like to acknowledge that we are gathered today on the traditional, ancestral, and unceded territory of the Musqueam people.

Today was a gorgeous day at the Orchard Garden, and we want to thank everyone who came to celebrate with us for the Summer Solstice.   

Here is a video showcasing what happened at this special event.

Video: Summer Solstice Celebration 2022

Senses on the Solstice and Arts in the Garden

 Planning for the Solstice and Saturday Workshops

Today, we were back together again in the Orchard Garden, working in two groups to collaborate and plan activities for the Summer Solstice Celebration on Thursday, June 23rd, and for the final workshop of the Orchard Garden workshop series on Saturday, June 25th.

Summer Solstice Celebration Planning:

The Thursday group is excited to celebrate  the Solstice with a day of Exploring your Senses in the Garden.

We have planned a variety of activities which will engage each of the senses. These activities include storytelling, bird watching, garden tours, wildflower seed bomb making and a cooking demonstration. All of this educational enthusiasm will be interspersed with snacks and music. We are looking forward to a wonderful day in the Garden!

Saturday Workshop Planning:

The Saturday workshop group has planned an Arts in the Garden workshop that has two main activities: making willow dreamcatchers from Anishinaabe teachings, and painting in the garden with natural tools and dyes. Today, we all brought materials we had harvested/prepared for the workshop and tested out our activities in action. 

Shelby brought willow that she harvested as well as sinew and beads and demonstrated how to bend and tie the willow to create a teardrop or circular frame. She then modeled the technique of how to knot and weave the sinew to create a web inspired by the beauty and teachings of a spider’s web. We were so grateful for this wonderful experience and we can’t wait to share it with others during the Saturday workshop. 

Maggie and Gideon learn how to make willow dreamcatchers.

The rest of us brought natural dyes that we had prepared from blueberries, beets, spinach and matcha, turmeric, cabbage, and coffee. It was exciting to see how well the natural dyes turned out. We experimented with creating paint brushes from grass and other plant offerings from the garden and we coordinated how to use the garden’s tables, benches, and tents to enable independent and communal painting during the workshop. 

Sample of the natural dyes with which we experimented.


Participating in the Saturday Workshop planning process was a great example of teacher collaboration. I wouldn’t have come up with these learning experiences independently, yet once my colleagues put forth the initial ideas, each of us were able to contribute based on our previous experiences as educators and learners. The B.C. curriculum spans a vast range of concepts across many disciplines, and it is a challenge for any single teacher to try and plan engaging units and lessons independently. I must admit that I have a tendency to insulate myself and try to do just that - work through everything myself. Collaborating to plan the Saturday Workshop helped show me that there is no need to fear judgment or criticism of ideas when working as part of a caring and reciprocal teaching community. We frequently shared and revised ideas in pursuit of developing an engaging and effective learning activity.

Today was also another important reminder of the necessity to try any activities prior to using them in a lesson. There is a large gap between coming up with an idea that connects to the curriculum and actually making that idea feasible in practice so that a given audience can extract meaning through engaging with it. As Shelby led the rest of our group in making willow dreamcatchers, we learned that there were several key steps where we participants could get confused and make errors. Furthermore, we learned that in order to complete the activity within an hour as hoped for, we need to instruct participants to limit themselves to 9 knot points around the willow hoop. Those of us who made more knot points on our dreamcatchers found ourselves working well past an hour. 

When we started experimenting with creating mark-making tools, we soon learned that it was very challenging to create tools that made interesting and effective marks using our natural watercolour paints. We had initially thought that making a diversity of mark-making tools would be an engaging art activity; we found through experiencing the activity, however, that the greater engagement came from having a tool that could effectively use the natural paints we had created. We found that it was more successful to create denser tools that mimicked paintbrushes which worked well with the natural paints and as a result, made some small conceptual revisions to the activity that had a large impact on the overall experience of the activity. 

Beyond this, we spent a significant amount of time deciding how to use the physical space of the Orchard Garden effectively to carry out these two activities. This reminded me a great deal of lesson planning for the classroom during my practicum. I would start with an idea and then have to think through the small details of how materials would be distributed and where students would be at different parts of the activities. When I took the students out to the schoolyard for learning activities, the importance of these planning decisions were amplified. The students’ attention were easily grabbed by all of the sensory stimulations of the outdoor environment and I had to have extremely clear and simple instructions each step of the way to keep their attention. Today, we got to think through these small logistical decisions as a group in hopes of creating an engaging and educational workshop on Saturday.


Planning to teach lessons in a garden environment has many similarities to the classroom and many unique challenges. The advantage of the garden is that it is a pre-built interactive classroom, and our job as teachers is to find ways to ensure an engaging experience with our students.

In planning the Summer Solstice Party, the group quickly came to the consensus that engaging our students through focusing on the senses was a beautiful way to take advantage of all the learning opportunities the garden presents.

As someone who has cooked professionally, and taught many cooking classes in the past, my mind immediately turned to food. Now, figuring out what I could demonstrate using the ingredients that were ready to be harvested, and that I could demonstrate in the garden was a bit of a challenge. This task reminded me of the experience of helping to plan a field trip during my practicum. While you know the destination you wish to arrive at with your students, you must plan with all the risks and challenges in mind, and still make it engaging and educational.

After considering various options, and having numerous failed experiments littering my kitchen counter, I settled on demonstrating a garden herb hummus. Hummus is packed full of protein and can be flavored with a variety of herbs from the garden. That it is vegan also allows for the greatest number of participants to try the finished product. While I have prepared the bulk of the hummus in my kitchen for tomorrow's festivities, I will be doing a demonstration using a mortar and pestle in the garden.

The thought of being able to use food and gardening to educate students on a variety of subjects truly excites me. Talking about the origin of ingredients, their historical context, the biology of how they've grown, or even the scientific principle of emulsification can all come from a garden lesson about hummus. It just goes to show the old adage that Nature is the best teacher still holds true.

Garden Herb Hummus Recipe


1 Cup of Chickpeas with cooking water

1 Cup of Chickpeas drained

¼ cup of lemon juice

⅕ cup of Olive Oil

2 Tablespoons of Apple Cider vinegar

1 ½ Tablespoons of tahini

Herbs for flavor (I used garlic scapes, chives, mint, and oregano from the garden)

1 clove of garlic (omit if using garlic scapes)

Salt, Pepper, Cumin, and Chipotle Powder to taste

Add to your blender in the order above. If you're using a food processor the order you layer the ingredients is less of an issue. Blend until your desired consistency. Enjoy!

I leave you with a little poem I have written and that has been published in a few places. The name of my cooking class business is Pasta Boy Peter - Eat with those you Love TM and that spirit comes from this poem. I leave it as a little blessing to all of you who visit the garden.

Eat with those you Love and you will stay in Love

Eat with those you Like and you may fall in Love

Eat with those you hate and you may learn to Tolerate

By Peter Ciuffa

Tuesday, 21 June 2022

Indigenous Peoples Day and Final Thoughts By Summer & Maggie

Did you know that June 21st is Indigenous Peoples Day?

Today is an important day to reflect on and acknowledge the history, heritage, and contributions, of Indigenous peoples. On the day of this year’s summer solstice, we took a moment to remember and reflect on the tragedies of Canada’s far and recent history. We hope that you can also take time for reflection and/or celebrate by participating in an activity in your neighbourhoods! 


One of the workshops I attended during my practicum was run by an Indigenous member of my school staff. She reminded me how we have responsibilities as teachers to incorporate the First Peoples Principles of Learning into our curriculum. I had a few deep conversations with her after the workshop and we formed a great connection. In addition, she encouraged me not to be afraid. A struggle I had in the past was being afraid to pass on incorrect information or being unintentionally disrespectful. Being a teacher in Canada, I want to do my best to acknowledge the true history and current events. However, as a non-Indigenous person, it can be difficult due to my lack of confidence/knowledge. I feel so blessed to have created relationships with Indigenous peers and mentors. They have been so helpful in my teachings and have provided me with the confidence I needed. Whenever I teach my students, I aim to make my Indigenous peers and mentors proud.

I reminded myself of my own promise to never forget the past and to be a vocal ally in our community. I believe that my knowledge from these workshops will be amplified by our lessons in the Orchard Garden. Many Indigenous topics and principles speak to the land. And what better place to connect and learn about the land than… in the garden! One of our own TC’s, Shelby, will be teaching us how to create Indigenous art from elements found from the land. This is a beautiful activity, and we are all fortunate that she is passing on her sacred knowledge to us. Planning for our CFE workshops and celebrations reminded me to make a conscious effort to connect my curriculum to the land. We look forward to celebrating Indigenous Day with our future students!

Below is a photo of artwork I did with students in my practicum class!


Reflecting on my experience in the UBC Orchard Garden, I feel incredibly grateful to have learned more ways to meaningfully incorporate the First Peoples Principles of Learning (FPPL) in my everyday life as well as in an outdoor classroom. I could see myself weaving in all of the FPPL in a lesson that involves being outside and in the school garden. I knew from the beginning of my journey that I wanted to explore outside of my comfort zone by learning how to approach teaching in an outdoor environment. The FPPL that has been at the forefront of my mind is that “Learning involves patience and time”; I wanted to take everything in quickly, but I soon became aware of the significance of sitting with questions, exploring, and reflecting – this inquiry cycle takes time. Furthermore, I learned that knowledge can come from different places; sometimes the Land is the best teacher and what I have to try to do more of is listen. Connecting this back to Indigenous Peoples Day, I will continue to take the time to educate myself about, appreciate and acknowledge the history, heritage, and resilience of Indigenous peoples, communities, and nations across Turtle Island. I think it is also important to keep in mind that today and every day, Indigenous peoples deserve to feel respect, peace, and joy. Also, today is not only a celebration of the diversity of Indigenous peoples, but also a celebration of Mother Earth who provides for us and our relationship with her. 

Although my roots are from Hong Kong, I grew up in Richmond with my mom, older sister, and grandma. I remember on my first day of Kindergarten, my mom walked me to the classroom door where I was greeted by Mrs. Green, the Kindergarten teacher. “I will be fine,” I whispered to myself. That was until Mrs. Green asked me to write down my address, which I had no clue what it was! The only memories I have where I felt connected with the land I was on was when I went outdoors to ​徐步 (to walk slowly) with my grandma. There were clues in the environment to help me find my way around the neighbourhood… like the tiny playground nearby my home where I discovered what I thought was a piece of the sun, like the willow tree around the corner that had hair as shaggy as the hair on a bearded collie, and the trees by the crosswalk where the spiky green balls would rain down on windy days. I often collected the treasures that were hidden inside – chestnuts! I knew where I was because of the landmarks I saw every day.

Today, I watched a video titled “Sea to Sky: Making of a Public Artwork” where I learned about a landmark in Richmond that was recently created on January 20, 2022. It is a five-storey-high glass artwork located on No. 3 and Cook Road. The artist, Thomas Cannell, designed the landmark to celebrate the art and culture of the Musqueam Nation. When people walk by it, it is meant to be a reminder of Richmond’s Indigenous heritage. I enjoyed learning about the meaning behind every choice made by the artist and the symbols that are included, such as the Eagle and Salmon. According to Thomas Cannell, the building looks like it is moving, so he tried to incorporate that fluidity into the art as well so that there is no clear beginning or end. While looking at photos of the landmark, which I have walked past before, I noticed various First Peoples shapes I introduced in a geometry unit, including crescents, trigons, and ovals. I also found it interesting how Thomas Cannell used blues and greens in the design since I have learned that the Coast Salish use a wide palette of yellows, blues, greens, blacks, reds, and whites.

Link to video:  

Link to Thomas Cannell’s website: 

It wasn’t until university that I learned that “Canada” is stolen land; that the land on which I live, play, and learn on which is now called Richmond is the unceded, ancestral, and traditional territory of the Coast Salish peoples. It was also my first time learning about the forced and coerced sterilization of Indigenous women, which still happens today. It was when I sat in one of my university classes that I saw a photo of Kent Monkman’s The Scream (2017) and learned about the history of residential schools. Throughout my undergrad, I kept thinking about the FPPL “Learning is embedded in memory, history, and story.” So even though I didn’t know that Richmond rose from the silt deposits of the Fraser River about 9,500 years ago, or that the Musqueam and Hul’q’umi’num’ speaking peoples are some of the first people of the land where I grew up and that they named spots along the shoreline… I know now that the stories and histories of these people who were here and still are here are living and carved into the land.

In the evening, I went to ​​徐步 with my mom to a look-out point of the West Dyke recreational trail. I wondered what other eyes have seen this beautiful view. If you listen, like really listen, you can hear the music of nature and the living creatures that inhabit the area during different times of the year. And again, I wonder, whose ears besides mine have been blessed to listen to the unique singing of nature. On the way back, I thought about how neat it would be to invite children to do some digging about the land they step on every day on the way to school – What plants are native here, and what plants have been brought here? What can Indigenous knowledge tell us about these plants? What animals do I see and what are their connections to Indigenous peoples? What did the land look like before it was turned into a school site? The pathways we walk on in life aren’t always the ones we think: smoothly paved roads, evenly-spaced sidewalks that fit two people, human-made trails – Please stay to the right. Like the wrinkles by my mother’s eyes and on her lovely hands, I can find paths, maps, and stories – on the bark of trees and in their root systems. Now whenever I see a tree, I can’t hold back my desire to reach out my hand, press it against the bark, and listen.

My walk outside reminded me of how during my long practicum, I learned that the Richmond city council does not do a land acknowledgment before meetings because of ongoing lawsuits that involve the government and Indigenous peoples. This was for an ethical dilemma writing block that I was planning, so the students and I called Richmond City Hall to ask questions. A meaningful step towards healing and repairing our relationship with Indigenous peoples and the Land may be to not only find ways to reconnect with Mother Earth and consider how we can grow our learning by turning to Indigenous ways of knowing, but also create our own land acknowledgment in the classroom. I look forward to finding more ways to decolonize the classroom, and to continue learning and taking steps towards reconciliation.

Thank you so much for following along with our journeys and for reading our blog posts. We will leave you with the words of Robin Wall Kimmerer in Braiding Sweetgrass:

“Paying attention is a form of reciprocity with the living world, receiving the gifts with open eyes and open heart.”