Wednesday, 18 January 2017

The Woad Song

For three days in December, a group of us engaged in a natural dyeing experimental workshop with fresh woad plants grown in the Orchard Garden last summer (and rescued by Julian, Phil and me just before the first big snowfall).

Woad is a traditional source in temperate climates of a blue dye related to indigo. It is a complicated dye to use, with many time-consuming steps, and no guarantee of the outcome!

Rescuing the woad Dec. 4, just before the snow
It is also the dye that the ancient Pictish warriors in northern Scotland are supposed to have used to paint themselves blue in preparation for battles with Roman soldiers. Woad is very smelly, as we found out, and apparently is was the stench of the woad as well as the appearance of ferocious blue-painted nearly-naked warriors that was meant to scare off the Romans.

When I mentioned our workshop to some of my Morris dancing-British folk music friends, I learned about the Woad Song, AKA 'National Anthem of the Ancient Britons'. It's a comic song written in 1914 by William Hope-Jones, and it's all about WOAD!!

(to the tune of the Welsh anthem, Men of Harlech)

1.What's the good of wearing braces,
Vests and pants and boots with laces,
Spats or hats you buy in places
Down in Brompton Road?
What's the use of shirts of cotton,
Studs that always get forgotten?
These affairs are simply rotten:
Better far is woad.

Woad's the stuff to show, men.
Woad to scare your foemen:
Boil it to a brilliant hue
And rub it on your back and your abdomen.
Ancient Briton never did hit on
Anything as good as woad to fit on
Neck, or knees, or where you sit on.
Tailors, you be blowed.

2. Romans came across the Channel
All wrapped up in tin and flannel:
Half a pint of woad per man'll
Dress us more than these.
Saxon, you can waste your stitches
Building beds for bugs in breeches:
We have woad to clothe us, which is
Not a nest for fleas.

Romans keep your armours;
Saxons your pyjamas:
Hairy coats were meant for goats,
Gorillas, yaks, retriever dogs and llamas.
Tramp up Snowdon with our woad on:
Never mind if we get rained or blowed on.
Never want a button sewed on.
Go it, Ancient B's.

2016-17 Orchard Garden workshops

We have just finished our first two workshops of the year plus our experimental woad dyeing workshop in December. The workshops continue to be very exciting, and we have a large and terrific  group of teacher candidates and other interested participants taking part.

We will be posting photos and write-ups of the first few workshops this week. Many thanks to Shirley Soo who has been taking great photos and has generously offered to help get our social media postings up to date!

Here is the schedule for the Saturday workshops this year. Please mark them on your calendar, and plan to come to four or more to qualify for an informal certificate of garden-based learning next July. Workshop fees are $10 (please bring cash as we can't handle debit, credit or cheques), and this covers a delicious lunch made with garden ingredients and workshop materials.

Saturday, 25 June 2016

Senses in the Garden Workshop

Today we engaged with our different senses in the garden starting with our sense of sight while looking at various plants in the garden and matching them to paint samples! It was eye-opening to finally notice the wide spectrum of colours within one physical space. We were delighted to find unique colours such as bright blues and shades of purple in such unexpected spots like at the bottom of corn plants.


We then removed the sense of sight and engaged with our sense of smell! In partners, one person lead the other partner who had their eyes closed around the garden. We were quite surprised about how heightened the rest of our senses were and how much trust we had to put on our partner as they guided us around! This would be a fun and interactive game for all ages although we did learn that it would be a good idea to provide blindfolds for younger children because they tend to peek!

After a sharing circle, we moved on  to collecting different herbs and flowers for our homemade perfumes. Then we headed back to Scarfe for a delicious lunch! The workshop group prepared kale chips, rosemary potatoes, salad, bread, cheese, hummus, and mint chocolate chip cookies! Best of all, many of the ingredients were harvested from the Orchard Garden. The workshop group played some calming background music to appeal to the sense of hearing.


After lunch, we mixed together the different scents and created homemade perfumes! First we used popsicle sticks to crush the herbs and flowers in coffee filters which enabled us to control the intensity of the natural essences. We also watched a commercial made by students in Isis' class who were advertising their perfumes. It was great to see students involved in their learning and seeing them connect technology with outdoor education!

Overall our 3-week CFE experience has been a wonderful journey with many learning opportunities for integrating garden-based learning in the school setting! We really appreciate all of the experiences and resources we have gone through during our CFE. We wish everyone the best in their teaching journeys! Hopefully we stay in touch! See you around Scarfe everyone! :)

Thursday, 23 June 2016

The Orchard Garden's 2016 Summer Solstice Celebration

Today the rain came down hard!  The plants in the garden didn't mind, and we were all in a happy mood to celebrate the Summer Solstice together, which passed just recently on Monday, under the cover of a few cozy canopies!  

A team of us UBC Teacher Candidates hosted the event as part of our Community Field Experience Practicum.  Members of the Orchard Garden student team, from the faculties of Education and Land and Food Systems, also helped host the event; a great success.   The morning and afternoon were spent in appreciation of the many joys of the garden, and its community of supporters and caretakers.

Our visitors included a local preschool group! We read stories to them, showed them the small and large hyperboloid structures we had made, and engaged them in making their own hyperboloid structure.  They brought a fun-filled sense of wonder as they perused the garden activities, creating place-based art, and making their own herb bouquets.

To celebrate all that the summer will bring from the garden, there were herbs placed on a table, ready to be made into "bouquets" to take home and enjoy.  The little ones, as well as us adults, all enjoyed smelling their unique fragrances.

An array of foods was available to enjoy, featuring the flavors of the garden.  We enjoyed salads, veggies, bread, cheeses and the most delicious cookies you can imagine!  I think it is safe to say that we all formed new connections with the local community as we mingled over fun and food.

It was a huge success, enjoyed by us all.  The only bittersweet element: it is sad to think that this means our Community Field Experience practicum is almost over!  We have our workshop on Saturday and then our practicum will be finished.  We have learned so much through being in the garden, developed friendships and newfound ideas about gardens in education, and sustainable food systems.  What a valuable opportunity this CFE has been! We look forward to continued learning, and frequent future visits.

By: Isis & Mary

Wednesday, 22 June 2016

Day 13 - Solstice and Weekend Workshop Preparations!


This blog post is brought to you by Deb, Gerry and Hannah.

Today both groups continued with workshop preparations as time is cutting close! The Solstice group met on campus to finalize tomorrow’s activities, prep posters, decorations and most importantly pick up groceries for the event. Preparing for these two special events is an exciting culmination of all of our learning and work over the past 3 weeks! Both groups are excited to present their teachable ideas and homemade dishes to the public!

We believe that food brings people together in any culture and we wanted to really bring focus to the garden and the food that it gifts us. As part of our celebration we have included ingredients directly from the Orchard Garden such as mint for our iced tea and fresh rosemary for our cookies. The rest of the menu was selected with care to feature locally grown and sustainable options. We look forward to the Summer Solstice celebration with everyone tomorrow!

Roots on the Roof is having a Summer Solstice celebration on Friday evening!

Joyce Liao, a member of the Orchard Garden and Roots on the Roof teams and a summer student in the Orchard Garden writes:

Hello Orchard Garden team!

On Friday, June 24th from 5:30-7:30pm, Roots on the Roof will be hosting a summer solstice event to celebrate the summer, the sun, and the wonderful start we have had to our growing season!

We invite you to join us in celebrating our beautiful space through an evening of free food, activities, music, and all-round good vibes! There'll be salad and dressing making with vegetables that you get to harvest yourself from our garden, bouquet making with fresh cut flowers, a photo booth and contest, our own market stand selling heavily discounted produce, and much more! All are welcome to attend so please share and invite friends, family, and anyone you know!

For more details and updates, please see our Facebook event here:

The Roots Crew would love to see you there!


Please come out and support our sister project!

Tuesday, 21 June 2016

Day 12: CFE (21 June 2016) Workshop Prep

This morning, the CFE crew met at Scarfe to further plan and prepare for the solstice and five senses workshops. Each group discussed what still needs to be done and delegated responsibilities among members of their group. 

Summer solstice group:

Each of us is responsible for making and bringing a dish. We ran through our activities, and made our way to Wreck Beach to collect materials (rocks, shells, wood, leaves, pine cones) for our land art activity. We invited a local daycare to come and join us for the workshop next Thursday.

During this CFE, we have learned how a garden can facilitate place-based learning in a classroom. Through hands-on activities, field trips, lesson planning, discussions with Orchard Garden team members, we developed resources and acquired knowledge which will allow us to incorporate garden related activities in our future teaching practice. 

We have appreciated the opportunity to be in the garden after a long practicum, it has allowed us to reflect on our practicum and community field experiences as well as realize the value of integrating learning. A garden enables us to integrate curriculum subjects in a coherent and engaging way.

Dana, Cristina and Claire