Sunday, 26 February 2012

Indigenous root gardens: anthropologists are challenged on previous understandings of traditional food growing practices

Soiled and Seeded is an excellent online magazine exploring diverse cultural ways of gardening and farming.  The latest issue includes an article on recent scholarly studies documenting the Indigenous root gardens of Coastal British Columbia.  It was previously thought (by anthropologists) that First Nations people in this area did not farm, but new studies have begun showing that they did cultivate food through agroecological practices exemplifying a form of permaculture.  Click on this link to read the full article:

Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Garden Planning Workshop on March 8!

Early March is a great time to plan your garden- whatever the size or context (school, backyard, container, or even small urban farm).  We hope you will join us in The Orchard Garden for a hands-on garden planning workshop.  Topics covered will include:

·     Selecting appropriate crops for your site and our Vancouver climate/ ordering seeds
·      Planning (and maximizing) harvests by scheduling planting times
·      Succession planting
·      Crop rotation
·      Record keeping (crucial for a successful garden!)

We will discuss methods for mapping your garden site and ways to maximize sunlight and growing space.  This workshop is open to all- even those brand new to gardening!

When:  Thursday, March 8, 12-2pm
Where:  The Orchard Garden, 2357 Main Mall, behind the Macmillan Building (rain or shine- dress appropriately)
Free or suggested donation of $5 to cover materials
Please RSVP by Friday March 2:

Saturday, 11 February 2012

Major grant received: cause for celebration!


It is with great excitement and gratitude that we accept a major grant through the Teaching and Learning Enhancement Fund at UBC.  Our team of students and faculty advisors worked diligently on crafting a strong application in the fall reflecting our past year's collaborative work between the Faculties of Education and Land & Food Systems, and the School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture.  We also articulated our goals for the future of this unique garden.  This grant will enable our work to continue through funding graduate research positions, acquiring needed garden materials (seeds, plant starts, mushroom manure, signage, seating), and educational supplies for courses, workshops, and community celebrations.

We are excited that so many classes have shown an interest in using the garden as an outdoor classroom with six classes already booked for March and early April.  
Thank you to the Teaching and Learning Enhancement Fund as well as to all of our supporters- the passion, commitment and momentum of this project is huge.

Thursday, 9 February 2012

Expanding the meaning of "local" food

On Monday night my class, Theories in Place-based Learning: Ecohumanist, Critical and Indigenous Lenses gathered in the garden at dusk to explore the remaining winter crops and discuss the multiple meanings of local food.  Some of our central questions (still unresolved) were:  How do we define local food within a diverse city such as Vancouver ?  Does "local" solely refer  to the land on which food is grown, or to the people who are growing it?  Is it possible to support local food while maintaining food traditions we may bring from distant places?

I am currently working with Gr. 4/5 children for my thesis- almost all of them come from  immigrant families.   As we begin to plant the school garden, I feel great discomfort in ignoring their food cultures and perpetuating Eurocentric plant choices.  There are many considerations for school gardens to be successful- plants need to be low maintenance, need to produce in the fall or the spring, need to be child-friendly, etc.  But rarely do we consider the culturally relevant plants that may be extremely suitable to school gardens.  The conversation of native, non-native, and invasive plants is complex and deeply rooted in assumptions.

Through our work in The Orchard Garden, one of our goals is to open up these conversations- to question our assumptions and bring culture and history into the dialogue.  Our partnership last summer with the Chinese Canadian Historical Society and our planting of an interpretive Chinese market garden was an initial effort.

Here is a related article on the multiple food systems that exist in Vancouver with a focus on the importance of Chinese-Canadian agriculture as also local:’s-other-local-food-system.

Wednesday, 8 February 2012

A teacher learning in the garden: Post #3

Here's Tia's third post- Enjoy!

Today my service-learning class partner Kailee and I met up at the UBC botanical gardens to begin doing some research on native plants in this region of BC. Being new to Vancouver and UBC I had never been to the Botanical gardens before and was really impressed with how beautiful it was! Kailee took me through parts of the garden and I could only imagine how much more beautiful it becomes in the spring and summer. We took out some books about native plants and began to research some of the plants being considered for the Orchard Garden this year. I look forward to sharing what I have learned about these plants in a future post. The next day when I went to volunteer at the forest school in North Vancouver I recognized one plant from my research! A deer fern? Is this what I have been seeing everywhere on campus and in the forest?

A teacher learning in the garden: Post #2

Here is Tia's second post- enjoy!

Here’s a book I just purchased on Amazon called “Apartment Gardening” by Amy Pennington. I want to apply what I am learning during this time at The Orchard Garden to my apartment and learn to grow some of my own herbs and vegetables. Wish me luck!

A teacher's journey in the garden

The Orchard Garden is fortunate to have two students (one from the Faculty of Education and one from the Faculty of Land and Food Systems) doing service-learning work with us.  One of these students is brand new to gardening and has chosen to document her learning over the course of the next few months on this blog.  It is with pleasure that I introduce Tia!  We look forward to reading about your explorations, questions and learning as a means to connect to other teachers interested in garden-based learning.

Greetings to all!
My name is Tia and I am a full time Master of Education in Early Childhood Education student at UBC. I feel fortunate to have been given the unique opportunity to participate in service learning as part of one of my courses this semester (EDCP 585). I will be volunteering and taking part in the meetings and activities organized by the Orchard Garden this semester and I really do hope to stay involved after the semester is over! I plan to work on my graduating project this summer and am very interested in outdoor learning and environmental education Specifically, I will be writing about the forest kindergarten movement. I recently began volunteering at an outdoor forest preschool program and am really enjoying it!
I am embarrassed to admit that I really don’t have any real experiences BEING outdoors or doing “outdoorsy” things. I have never gardened, hiked or really explored nature even though I feel very passionate about the importance of having these experiences in childhood and throughout the life span. Sadly, I am not from BC, I am from Windsor, Ontario so perhaps this has something to do with my lack of outdoor experiences. I had the opportunity to attend a planning meeting for the Orchard Garden recently and was very surprised to see how much I really didn’t know about gardening. I have always been very interested in gardening, even trying to grow my own seeds in my backyard over the years…but nothing really ever grew! I hope to learn what I have been doing wrong.
To give the blog readers a sense of how much I really need to learn here are few terms mentioned at the meeting in which I know nothing about and really don’t even know what they mean.
Term 1: Irrigation, Term 2: Mushroom manure, Term 3: Composting
These are just a few things I predict I will know a lot more about very soon! I am looking forward to this learning adventure and hope to be of some help to the Orchard Garden volunteers. I like to think that I am not alone out there and that there are many city girls like me who grew up playing inside most of the time and know very little about growing things! If people like me are reading, let’s learn together!
Here is a photo of myself and my vase of fake sunflowers that I keep on my kitchen table…I should really get some real plants in my apartment!

Wednesday, 1 February 2012

Soil workshops at the UBC Farm!

It is frequently forgotten that the key to a successful and healthy garden is healthy soil!  Now is the time to really focus on soil quality as we prepare for the upcoming growing season.  The UBC Farm is offering 4 workshops on the topics of soil texture, formation, cultivation and management beginning on February 11 (sign up for a single workshop or for the whole series). 
Don't miss this excellent learning opportunity!  
Click here for more information: