Thursday, 27 April 2017

Orchard Garden CFE April 27

Joyce - Classroom Gardens

We started off our morning with a lively discussion on an article by Green Teacher called "The Roots of Diversity: Growing Culturally Significant Plants in the Classroom". We began our discussion with any questions we had regarding the article.

The article talks about celebrating diversity in the classroom by growing culturally significant plants together as a class. By growing plants and creating a nice windowsill garden in the classroom, we can engage the students in many ways. As plants can play an important role in many cultural traditions and rituals around the world, they serve as a useful resource for studying different cultures. We can use the plants in the classroom to explore their point of origins as well as the different stories they may have. I personally thought the article was a great read and provided a lot of helpful information on starting a classroom garden. After reading the article, I got excited about starting my own classroom garden and started thinking about the potential ways I could approach it based on my two teachable subjects.

Some of the questions that came up were regarding how we can find stories behind plants from a reliable source, how we can make deeper cultural connection between us and plants and solutions for classrooms that have limited exposure to light. We then started coming up with ideas for the use of classroom gardens for different subject areas. For example for Business classes, teachers can plan a food marketing unit which requires them to do project research and ultimately setting up their own garden. 

Featuring Colin's Bouba the rabbit and Kiki the duck

Next we had John introducing us to soundscaping by doing a quick activity. He got us to draw two shapes onto a piece of paper and told us to name our beautifully drawn shapes either Bouba or Kiki. It resulted in all of us having the same answer! We all knew the rounded shape just had to be Bouba and the spiky shape was a definite Kiki. We then watched a video on soundscaping explaining how the majority of people associated Bouba with the rounded shape due to the sound of the word. Our mouths makes more of a rounded shape when we say Bouba and an angular shape when we say Kiki.

Danielle – Forest Soundscape

After our morning discussion, we headed down to the small forest near the Orchard Garden where John led us through a soundscape activity. We each had a clipboard, a piece of paper, and a pencil. 

First, we spent 20 minutes alone listening to all the sounds of the forest. While we listened, we tried to draw what we think the sounds would look like on our paper. We had three categories of sounds to draw: human, nature, and technology. At this time and place, the reality was that the natural sounds of birds and rustling tree branches were overpowered by the aggressive construction noises.

After our 20 minutes of listening, we regrouped and walked back to the Orchard Garden. There, we got into groups of 3 and shared our drawings with our group members. It was interesting to see the differences in how people visualize sounds, which is not something most of us are used to doing. In our small groups, we were given a larger piece of paper and asked to combine our drawings to make a larger soundscape. The final part of this activity was to choreograph a live rendition of our group’s drawing. We found sticks and tools from the garden to try to re-enact the noises we heard in the forest.  

Next came the fun part – watching the performances of each group. Creativity was maximized with the use of voices and gardening instruments made to sound like birds and heavy machinery. I can see how students of all ages would enjoy the creativity of this activity. As we were doing the different parts to this soundscape – the listening, drawing, and group collaboration, I could see how adaptable this activity could be. It could easily be done with children and students of all ages, in virtually any environment. It could be a warm-up to garden learning or just a simple field trip outside where students get to use their senses in new ways. Teachers could lead their students through a sound walk or a sound sit somewhere near the school and then do various follow up activities. I think students would enjoy the sensory experience and feel more connected to the space around them. All in all, it was a very interesting experience!

To end our day today, we spent a couple hours weeding in the sunny garden. There's something about getting your hands in the dirt and breathing in fresh air that puts everyone in a good mood. I personally am loving it, and I am hoping that all of our future students will be able to appreciate how different they feel when they leave the stuffy classroom and spend time outside. 

CFE Garden safety sheets & medicinal herbs primer, FYI

Here are links to some handouts from our CFE, so that everyone will be able to access these online as
well as on paper:

1) Orchard Garden & Cultivating Learning Network garden health & safety sheet

2) Orchard Garden medicinal herbs primer 

3) Further information about beneficial dead-nettles (lamium purpureum)

Wednesday, 26 April 2017

Orchard Garden CFE April 26

Jenny - School gardens in other countries and cultures

For our morning session, we had a guest speaker, Kwesi, who shared about the school gardens in other countries and cultures - in particular, Ghana.

We started off by learning about the history of school gardens in Ghana. It was interesting to see how gardening and farming are very well embedded into people’s daily lives. Even in terms of education, elementary and high school are mandated to have school gardens in Ghana. We looked at an example of a grade 7 science project where students have to grow a named vegetable crop from seed to harvesting. It showed that the Ghanaian education system aims to really encourage garden-based learning by providing a curriculum that revolves around students physically working in the school gardens.

Then we had a discussion about how gardening is different across cultures. Specifically, there was an interesting conversation about how in some cultures, people tend to have dominance over nature by controlling where to grow things, what to grow, how it must be designed, etc. On the other hand, in other cultures, people appreciate the randomness of nature and just let the nature decide on its own.

As well, we also conversed about how different ingredients brings significance to different people. When Kwesi showed us some photos of the trees and crops in Ghana, it was hard for us to recognize and identify what they were because we weren’t familiar with those ingredients. However, they will have a great significance to the Ghanaian people because they depend on those things in their daily lives. It is similar to how Korean people will depend heavily on rice and Korean cabbage (for kimchi) because they are a part of our daily diet whereas it might not be that significant to people from other cultures.

Overall, it was a great session where we got to see a real example of how Ghanaian education system has adopted garden-based learning to its core level and see the great outcomes it has on the students.

Benefits/Outcomes of Garden-Based Learning (as mentioned by Kwei):

  • Some students replicated the school garden in their homes and in the future, they will be able to earn a living (life-long learning)
  • The produce were distributed to the children at the end of each harvest
  • Children learned to appreciate the value of vegetables in a balanced diet
  • Symbol of collaboration between the school and the community

Colin - Tour of Windermere school gardens, greenhouse, composting and orchard
Courtyard Garden
The Green House

In the afternoon session, we went to Windermere Secondary School to have a tour of their school gardens, led by three of the students responsible for running the spaces, allowing us to see school gardens in a local context.

The tour started in a school courtyard where there is a green house, plant beds, along with bushes and trees.  Our guides started by showing us their green house where they get seedlings started on their journey.  It was immediately clear the amount of work that our guides and their fellow students have put into the garden projects, and also the pride that they take in the work they have done.  The projects are student led, through the leadership classes, making the students responsible for planning and implementation of projects and ideas.

Raspberry bushes
After we toured the green house, we continued on to the rest of the courtyard garden, seeing the many plant beds, and raspberry bushes that provide healthy, local food, to the school cafeteria during the growing season.  Because the harvest for some of the plants grown does not coincide with the school schedule, the leadership class has previously organized for the bounty of fresh produce to help the local community, arranging for local charities to make use of the produce.

Solitary Bee Homes

Community and school engagement was a constant theme throughout the tour.  With our guides talking about the garden spaces not only providing food, but also providing a space where learning can happen outside of the classroom.  Where plays for english or drama can be performed, where physical education involves creating and working in the gardens, where you can learn about the needs of solitary bees, and create an art.

The Orchard Garden

After visiting the courtyard garden, we toured the orchard garden, where there were a variety of fruit trees and bushes, and well as even more plant beds.  Occupying a corner of the sports field, in-between a road and a baseball diamond, the space is being utilized in a very nice way.  Providing more food, opportunities for different approaches to gardening, and once again community engagement with signage that informs and engages.
Signs in the orchard
Overall, it was a very successful, inspiring tour.  The passion and dedication that our tour guides had for their projects was evident, and is something that all of us will try to replicate throughout out teaching careers