Sunday, 23 December 2012

Chinese Market Garden: Featured Vegetable #2

Napa Cabbage, or 大白菜, is a very widely used cabbage in Chinese cooking, as it originates in Beijing, but is used in many other Asian countries today. In Korea, it is the main ingredient in the condiment, kimchi. Napa cabbage is used in stirfrys, spring rolls and potstickers. For a great spring roll recipe, click here.
Napa Cabbage ~ 大白菜, whole and sliced in half.
 Photo credit: Two Eat Philly, 2012. 
Interestingly, napa cabbage symbolizes prosperity in China to the extend that its image often fashioned into glass and porcelain figures.

Wednesday, 12 December 2012

Children's garden position at UBC Farm

Children's Garden Education Assistant Job Posting
The UBC Farm and the Intergenerational Landed Learning Project are accepting applications for a Children's Garden Education Assistant. This individual will be responsible for a wide range of maintenance and support tasks in the Children’s Learning Garden and work closely with the Faculty of Education’s Intergenerational Landed Learning Project. The application deadline is January 4th; see job posting (PDF) for full position and application details. 

Sunday, 9 December 2012

Chinese Market Garden: Featured Vegetable #1

Perilla. It's quite a pretty name, and one I hadn't heard before. The name on its own reminds me of periwinkle and dancing.

Perilla ~ 紫苏 
Photo credit: Wikipedia 2012. 
At our last meeting, Chinese Market Garden committee discussed planting Perilla this season in the Chinese Market Garden. In Chinese, it is pronounced 'zisu', o紫苏. It is part of the mint family, so it tastes and smells like a mixture of mint and fennel. Perilla is used as a common herb, usually fried with garlic and ginger to spice up any dish. It is also used in traditional Chinese medicine as an immune system stimulator and is said to ease cold symptoms. 

Tuesday, 4 December 2012

Children & School Gardening: MA thesis

Congratulations, Djamila!

In September, Djamila Moore, our previous Orchard Garden coordinator, moved to Portland to work as a school garden coordinator. This Friday, she returns to defend her MA thesis. Here's the information (see below), if you would like to attend. If you miss the defense and would like to read the thesis, it will be posted (likely in a couple of weeks) online at the UBC Library cIRcle repository.


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You are invited to
The Final Oral Examination For the Degree of

(Science Education)

Djamila Moore BFAUniversity of North Carolina, School of the Arts, June 2002

Friday, December 7, 2012, 2:00 pm
SCARFE  1209

“A Discursive Exploration of Children’s School Garden Experiences, Perspectives, and Developing Ecological Literacies”

EXAMINING & Supervisory Committee:
Supervisor: Dr. Samson Nashon
Co-Supervisor: Dr. Sandra Scott
Committee: Dr. Tracy Friedel

Research has largely neglected ways to explore how school gardens are used, the quality of the children’s garden experiences, and the educational possibilities including the process of supporting children’s ecological literacy. The purpose of this study was to better understand the possibilities for discourses in and around current garden-based education and ecological literacy while making space for an emergent and narrative research design. This qualitative study draws upon phenomenological and narrative methods to understand children’s garden experiences and is synthesized and analyzed through ecological place-based framework and the notion of crystallization. Findings provide an enriched understanding of children’s school garden experiences and perspectives while supporting their developing ecological literacies.

Saturday, 1 December 2012

Workshop Series #3: Garden Ecosystems and Soil Health!

The third session of the Workshop Series took place on December 1st 2012. This session mainly focused on understanding garden ecosystems and the concept of soil health. We started the session with discussing the connections between all the elements in a garden ecosystem. We also had a conversation about the cultural significance of soil.

Web of life activity, using Julia's threat that was made from the flax grown in the Orchard Garden

Friday, 30 November 2012

Workshop Series #2: Curriculum Connections

Our second workshop took place on November 17 and we focused on how to connect gardens to current high school and elementary school curriculums and how we can adapt and implement new curriculum that works with gardens.  We were lucky enough to be joined by Stacy Freidman from the Intergenerational Landed Learning Project on the UBC Farm and a group of current and former students from Windermere Secondary School.  Everyone gave really amazing and inspiring presentations.  It was a wonderful learning and sharing experience and everyone left looking foreword to more.

Workshop Series #1: Why school gardens?

On October 27 we welcomed a group of students from the Teacher Education program out to the Orchard Garden for the first of six Workshops about Garden Based Education.  

Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Developing the Chinese Market Garden/Native Plant Garden

The first bok choi at the Chinese Market Garden.  
 About 2 years ago, the Chinese Market Garden and Native Plant Garden was developed. It is a living experiment in teaching and learning about the largely untold shared history of Chinese migrant communities and Musqueam First Nations people here on the banks of the Fraser River, on unceded traditional Musqueam territory.

Monday, 5 November 2012

The Orchard Garden office in late autumn light

While we were preparing for our Dark Garden Arts event and the TLEF renewal process in the Garden office last week, the late autumn sun burst through, low in the sky, and made everything golden. Even the foosball game was beautiful.


Wednesday, 31 October 2012

School gardening research events, Scarfe buliding Nov 13-30

From November 13 - 30, join Julia Ostertag in the Student Lounge of the Scarfe Building (Room #10, basement) to see and explore the themes of her PhD research project, Threads Sown, Grown & Given. On November 13 from 3-5pm, there will be a public opening of the indoor installation. Throughout November 13-30, you are invited to join Julia for daily threading conversations from 10-12, also in the student lounge. During these daily events, Julia will work with materials from the research, screen images from the summer garden installation, and invite the public (student teachers, undergraduate and graduate students, faculty members, instructors, staff and the general public) to join the research process.

If you are interested in participating in the research, please contact Julia for a consent form ( and bring it to the student lounge on the day you plan to attend an event.

Vielen Dank, Lena Schrieb, for the incredible poster! (

Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Agriculture, Peru & New Course: Info Session

This information session may be of interest to undergraduate/graduate students seeking to learn from cross-cultural relationships with the land:
PERU SUMMER INSTITUTE: Ecology, Technology, and Indigeneity in the High Amazon

Info Session:  Wednesday, October 31 (this week!)
11am-12:30pm | Scarfe 201

In summer 2013, the Faculty is offering a six-credit summer institute which includes an intensive four-week program of study at the Sachamama Center in Lamas, Peru.  This program is being supported by the Go Global Group Study Program (including scholarship availability).  Visit the website for information and plan to join us at the October info session for more details.  Go Global will also be conducting short presentation in some classrooms over the next few weeks.
  • Program Directors:  Dr. Peter Cole and Dr. Pat O’Riley
  • Courses: EDCP 467A/585C: Ecology, Technology, and Indigeneity in the High Amazon; EDCP 467B/585E: Narrativity, Indigeneity and Ecopedagogy
  • Application Deadline: November 16, 2012
  • Scholarships Available: Go Global Award ($1000), eligible for regular UBC student scholarships (contact Shareen Chin at Go Global,

Dark Garden Arts Event - November 2nd!

Join us in the Garden for our Dia De Los Muertos (Day of the Dead) event this Friday, November 2 from 12:00-2:00pm. Our event is also to commemorate Celebrate Learning Week at UBC. There will be music, light refreshments and lantern making! We hope to see you!

Monday, 29 October 2012

As part of Celebrate Learning Week ( The Orchard Garden will be featured in a poster session highlighting successful TLEF projects. The posters will be in the IK Barber building (Jubilee Room) for the next week. Stop by to check out our poster and all the other wonderful TLEF project posters.

Thursday, 25 October 2012

A How-to Guide: Connecting Curriculum to Journaling in Nature

This month, our very own Susan was at the 2012 North American Association for Environmental Educators conference in Oakland, California, and met John Muir...

Yosemite National Park (wikipedia 2012)

Monday, 22 October 2012

Flax to Linen

Linen fibre skeins: 6 hours of work, 124 grams of unspun linen
On Friday, I took two giant bags of flax plants (pulled, retted, and then dried in my living room...imagine the mess!) on the ferry to Victoria. There I met Barb and folks from the Flax to Linen project, who  - with incredible generosity - shared their tools and experience with me as we worked together to transform flax plants to linen fibres.

The steps of the process are:

Monday, 15 October 2012

Student teachers in the fall garden - 2 recent classes

Friday: First fall rains
"Taking classes outside, even in the rain, teaches differently than if we're just 'fair weather' teachers," Cynthia Nicol encouraged her Problem-Based Learning cohort of student teachers.

And maybe some of us needed encouragement. After months of sunshine, Friday's class in the garden was our first truly fall day of soaking rains.

Beginning with an indoor exploration of mathematics in traditional weaving techniques and a brief trip to the blue whale at the Beaty Biodiversity museum, these elementary math education students were exploring mathematics in the garden - with their boots & umbrellas.

Groups of students spread throughout the garden, searching for 10 plant parts that could reveal mathematical concepts such as geometry, pattern, symmetry, relationship, line, etc. "At first, I couldn't see anything in the garden. It was like I was blind. But now I see these shapes everywhere!"

Monday: Crisp kohlrabi, corn & rain coming
"I had never thought about how many different ways there are to have a garden," one student said as we stood at native plant garden area of The Orchard Garden, talking about the relationship between First Nations people, Chinese Market Gardens, and the myriad ways to experience relationships with the land (including fear & hard work, a couple people reminded us: fear of worms, spiders, and memories of hard, hard work...).

Marny Point's student teachers from the NITEP program came to the garden to learn how to connect gardens to their teaching. Everywhere we moved in the garden, the stories were deeply layered. How are the stories of corn, the three sisters, cover crops, and compost, connected to our classrooms? What can Indigenous languages teach us about our relationships with plants?

"I remember my gran coming to my Grade 5 class. We went out to harvest fiddle heads and then we cooked them. I didn't eat them, though."

"You need to remember that teaching," Marny responded.

Ideas for developing and critiquing and growing both our Native plant garden & Chinese market garden are always very welcome. For more inspiration, watch Cedar & Bamboo.

Thank you, PBL and NITEP program students and instructors. Your sparkling, fresh faces, curiosity, and contagious sense of wonder reminded me - once again - about why I love The Orchard Garden and the work we do. We hope you come again and again. Please contact to arrange a class visit or find out more about our workshop series starting Oct 27, 2012.

Thursday, 11 October 2012

An Outdoor Movie Screening

A big-screen outdoor movie night came to the Orchard Garden last week, through a joint effort by the Orchard Garden field team and the Land and Food Systems Global Resource Systems (GRS) program.

Wednesday, 10 October 2012

Workshop series registration open

We're excited to announce that registration is officially open for the 2012-2013 Orchard Garden workshop series, "Learning to teach in a school garden."

Registration is $50 for the entire 6-part series (includes materials and light lunches). Sessions are 9am-1pm on Saturdays (one/month). Sign up quickly since we only have limited places available and lots of interest. Student teachers in the BEd program at UBC have first priority for the workshop series. Registration ends October 16, 2012.

For more information and a complete schedule, visit:

Please contact: to receive all the registration information.

Saturday, 6 October 2012

A Harvest Celebration!

On Tuesday October 2, we celebrated the harvest season in the Orchard Garden. It was a great day, filled with good food and good friends. We had music by Susan and Julia, some kolrabhi carving activities, an apple press squeezing fresh cider, and a wheat weaving workshop by Brian. A good time was had by all! Some visual highlights are below...

Friday, 5 October 2012

EDUC 450B Inquiry One class in the Orchard Garden

We held our Inquiry One Secondary Math and Physics class in the Orchard Garden on the morning of September 20. Twenty-six student teachers and  Ozlem and Lindsey, our grad student teaching assistants, had an introduction and tour of the Garden, then explored the nature of lines and angles in human made and non- human made things in the garden, using charcoal sketches as our medium of inquiry.

Friday, 28 September 2012

Listen to Michael Pollan on Ted Talks - a great exploration into other sentient ways of being alive with the more-than-human, particularly plants. I love imagining the ways of knowing of plants and the things we can learn from this perspectival shift, as Pollan suggests. This is the technology we need to change the world!

For more on this, you can also watch Smarty Plants on the Nature of Things with David Suzuki. Really  fascinating implications for how we conceive of "consciousness" as not within entities but within relationships.


Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Flax formations

One blue flower opens every morning: 30 days after flush of flowers, flax is ready to be pulled and dried (for linen)

In an earlier post, I said that I would I write later about flax. Perhaps this story is conveyed most succinctly and beautifully in a 15 minute video by Benoit Millot available on Vimeo.

Monday, 24 September 2012

Enclosures and trespassers

cut seed bolls, retting flax, September 2012
The etymology of the word 'garden' can be traced back to the word 'enclosure'. As such, it is a territory - one that, whether in imagination or in reality, may be trespassed.

On Wednesday last week, for the fourth time, I went to work with the flax at the garden only to discover that an invisible hand had cut off seed bolls and removed large portions flax from where it's been drying and retting in the field (dew retting is the slow rotting process by which the linen fibres separate from the woody "boon" or outer stem through moisture, heat, and the collaboration of a multitude of micro-organisms, click here for more on retting).

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

Officially Fall! This Saturday 2:49pm.

This Saturday, September 22nd at 2:49pm in the afternoon, is the Fall Equinox. This means that the centre of the Sun will be on the same plane as the Earth's equator.

Roughly speaking, the fall (and spring) equinox denotes when night and day have almost equal lengths up at our latitude. At the equator, there is exactly 12 hours of night and day, and the centre of the sun can be observed directly overhead.

In the Orchard Garden here at UBC, however, the Fall equinox means that we are entering the half of the year that sees the fewest daylight hours. These reduced hours of sunlight "officially" signals the time when leaves may begin to fall and flowers turn brown with ripe seeds.

With all this glorious sunshine, fall has been taking its time to arrive...which is fine by me!

Shakespearian faeries in the garden

 Costuming was done on the spot --  stylish sprites.
On August 7, Kedrick James' LLED 439 class (Shakespeare in the Classroom) came for a visit to our outdoor classroom in the UBC Orchard Garden. Kedrick and the students in the course were making a film of Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream in midsummer, using beautiful bucolic locations on campus like the Orchard Garden and the Botanical Gardens. It was a wonderful way for new teachers to experience teaching and learning literature in a school garden.

I hope that we'll be able to link to the finished film here soon!

-Susan Gerofsky

Saturday, 8 September 2012

The Transitions Continue...

10ft Sunchokes (Jerusalem Artichokes): A sure sign of fall. 
As Djamila transitions into her new role, and I (Kate) begin the transition to work with The Orchard Garden, the garden too, is an outward expression of transition during these late-summer days. With the intense sun rays and no real rain for almost 6 weeks, the garden is slowly becoming autumnal.

Monday, 27 August 2012

a sweet farewell...

This is my farewell post... and so I gift you with a photograph of my favourite new discovery in The Orchard Garden:  Green Gauge Plums.  Perfumey, golden flesh in a tight skin with a dusky bloom easily rubbed off on jeans.  These little fruits make my heart sing.
As I prepare for my new position teaching food and gardening to elementary students in Portland, OR, I'd like to reflect on the huge learning experience of working in The Orchard Garden for the previous year and a half.
And so, here are a few of my favourite photos (new and old) that will continue to inspire me and guide me in my new teaching position.

Thursday, 23 August 2012


 We are excited to announce that we are accepting applications for the following work study position (10 hrs/week):
Volunteer and Production Coordinator for The Orchard Garden (TOG)

If you meet the following qualifications, please send a cover letter detailing your interest and experience to: 
no later than Fri. August 31, 2012!

Tuesday, 21 August 2012

Graduating, Hiring, and Growing!

Although classes are out right now, The Orchard Garden is in full swing!  We harvested 47 pounds of zucchini and 33 pounds of cucumbers for last week's CSA.  Our tomatoes and tomatillos are quickly ripening.  We're up to our eyeballs in bush beans and succulent chard.  This is the height of the summer!

Thursday, 16 August 2012

Julia's Research Installation

If you haven't seen it yet, stop by The Orchard Garden to experience Julia's Ph.D. research installation that changes by the day, with the light, and the hands that tend it.  Flax is such a beautiful, practical and poetic plant in all it's forms (these photos predate Julia's latest 'human forms' on her desks).  Can't wait to see what's next...

Installation harvest visits

As a site-specific installation/research project, Threads Sown & Grown, Woven & Given, is an ephemeral and transient experience. This first phase of the installation, Threads Sown & Grown, has constantly changed - from a grid of strings marking the spacing of desks and walkways, to feathery green beds of small flax plants, to a sea of waving blue flowers. However, I have often wondered when everything would come together and feel "complete." Just a few days ago, I reconciled myself that things (windows, walls, bean plants, wheat, cover crops, and flax plants) would never synchronize their "becomings" and be what I had somehow envisioned. And then, it happened.

A volunteer and I pulled the last "desks" of flax, ready to be harvested for linen. At the last moment, I decided to try stooking the sheaves of golden flax, long strands with tousled seed boll heads, and placing the stooks on the desks of their origin. Suddenly, small human forms filled the classroom, with a taller figure at the teacher's desk. The few remaining desks of flax, left to ripen for flax seed instead of linen fibre, occupy the remaining spaces, and faint green cover crops delineate the original grid of the classroom geometry.

Just as things have come together, I have left for a holiday with my family in Ontario. I'm sad to be missing this beautiful time in the garden; however, I invite you to enjoy it before Monday or Tuesday next week, when the stooks will be gathered by The Orchard Garden team and the installation changes again. Bring your camera and send me a picture!

Tuesday, 14 August 2012

The Benefits of Learning in an Outdoor Classroom

Sunflower in The Orchard Garden

Thanks to one of our readers, Florine, for sending us the following article describing the 'proven' benefits of outdoor learning.  Many of us who work in the field of garden-based learning frequently take it for granted that not everyone has been exposed to or understands the complexities and possibilities of learning outside.
While there is no generic one-size-fits all method of using gardens as learning spaces, we love that educators are getting excited about the myriad opportunities beyond the four-walled classroom!

Friday, 3 August 2012

Becoming teachers together

Student teachers performing in the outdoor classroom installation, August 2, 2012:
Conflict between teacher control and student freedom
My response to the installation:
~a feeling of juxtaposition between confinement and freedom, the plants were geometrically organized in their set positions but they grew long and free in their places ~a feeling of gratitude for the gift of life...~a feeling of HOPE ~ positivity, tranquility, nature as a healer. (Student teacher, August 2, 2012)
Last week I noted that I would write about flax but right now I'm more excited about the incredible class visit we had at the installation yesterday with a group of BEd students from the Faculty of Education.

The class started at 8:30am, and at 8:00am I was still working frantically with Morgan, a work study student at the garden, to hang the windows at the installation. Finally completed the night before, the windows depict black & white images of school gardens in Europe and North America (I'll post more on this later in response to two students' questions: "Can you describe why you chose the pictures you did for the windows? and "What surprised you about the gardens the Germans created?).

"All this work for what?" I must admit, I frequently ask myself this question. However, the deep respect, attentivity, curiosity, playfulness, and shared teaching/learning moments that filled the garden and our time together yesterday reminded me that teaching matters, gardening matters, and thinking carefully about these practices is as vital as it is complicated.

I think we do need to pay attention to the culture and history of the students because working with the land can be a very personal and culturally significant project. However I always feel the most comfortable when I'm in the garden. I forget that others don't always feel the same. (Student teacher, August 2, 2012)

Moving through the installation, "back of the garden to the front, much like a classroom," students ate the flax bolls, the milky wheat and barley, discovered crisp purslane growing around the desks, picked out lambs' quarters (grey heads, in China, one student explained) and nibbled the leaves. "Sorry, we're eating your installation!" the instructor said. "Perfect!" I replied. "We always use our eyes - it's good to taste things, too."

I also felt a little sad because I realized how foreign gardens seem to me these days. I grew up with one until the age of 10, but haven't been around many since. The garden I grew up with definitely stood out in my memory, so it made me wonder how powerful gardens can be for kids. (Student teacher, August 2, 2012)

  • Why is it so controlled? 
  • Normally I feel calm in gardens, but in this controlled garden I felt uncomfortable.
  • Touching the plants felt nice.
  • The plants want to be free and I don't like that they aren't 
  • Are you doing this to try to teach children about gardening or to prove a point? (Student teacher, August 2, 2012)

In response to that last provocative question: No, I am not trying to teach children about gardening (I'm interested in our practices as teachers!) and I hope that I'm not trying to prove a point. As a research project, I have set out to ask some questions: How do gardens become teachers? What all is tangled up in the very attractive concept of "connecting children to nature" through gardening, especially when we think about the issues of control, colonialism, eugenics, and confinement that characterized some historical school gardening efforts. How can we recognize this problematic, difficult history and re-imagine gardens as reconciliatory and regenerative places? Perhaps another way of replying would be to say that I'm interested less in "points" and more in growing "threads and lines" that connect ideas and people and places. Which brings us back to plants, and flax, and the things and relationships that matter so deeply to us all.

Thank you to Chessa & Morgan for assisting with photography, Jay & Natasha for calling us out of the installation and into the garden to harvest with you for the CSA and for preparing a delicious salad lunch, and especially to all the students for being open and generous, the course instructor for agreeing to participating in this research, and - most importantly - to the garden, the land, the storytellers, gardeners, and teachers who weave us together and make this all possible.

Please feel free to share your comments & reflections here.