We began our morning with introductions, sharing, exploration, and safety. First, we acknowledged that we were on the on the traditional and unceded territories of the Musqueam people and reflected on this as we prepared to work with and on the land. Then, as we sat in the garden, the sun shining and the birds calling, we had a chance to meet each other and get started. To begin, we talked safety. In small groups, we acted out the safety protocols in an effort to make the information fresh and entertaining for each other.
We also paused to think about why we want children to learn in the garden. Our discussions touched upon our need to provide a way for children to connect to the land, get dirty, and see how food it grown. We talked about responsibility, patience, and work ethic that comes from gardening. We also reflected on how children need to balance a busy and technology driven world, and that gardening and being outdoors is a way to find balance, by improving mental health and physical well-being.
From there, we were set free to explore the orchard garden by going on a scavenger hunt! What fun! We searched for windy places, birds, sweet scents, plants we recognized, and places to linger. It was a peaceful and relaxing stroll, as we examined every plant we came upon, tried to name the birds we saw, and held leaves to our noses to inhale the sweet scents. When we returned we shared what we found, what sparked our interest, and what questions we had. We ended up by the rose bushes, as the morning came to a close, smelling the sweet white flowers and reflecting on what brought each of us here to the orchard garden. I look forward to learning more about each other and about gardening in the days to come….
In the afternoon, we got to work preparing the orchard garden for planting. Under Julian's watchful eye, half of our group weeded out the garden beds while the other half cleared away the grass and flattened them.
As we worked, some of us reflected on our practicum experience and how our students would benefit from being outside and interacting with natural surroundings. They can learn much through hands-on activities like gardening or build up their sense of curiosity simply by observing plant and insect life. We have discussed how nature can have a calming effect, and yet provide a rich environment for outdoor education and daily physical activity.
As we discussed earlier in the morning, we believe that children should know where their food comes from and learn about healthy eating. Digging out the grass, digging out the weeds, turning and flattening the soil, and carrying the plants to the compost helps us to see how much effort is needed to produce our food. Having students work outdoors can help them appreciate what goes into their lunch boxes and hopefully make them more mindful about healthy eating and not wasting food.
It was also refreshing to work with and hear experiences from different cohorts since we did not have many opportunities to do so before. Although our cohorts emphasized different aspects of pedagogy, we all came to the conclusion that gardening is a valuable, soothing, yet stimulating teaching tool which promotes outdoor education, physical activity, and food security.