a The Learning Garden

Friday, August 22, 2014

Thank you to Last Year's Visitors . . .

Okanagan middle school students and their teachers collected rocks for the Learning Garden spiral, planted garlic, and listened to the history of the First Nations fire-pit as told by Okanagan teacher Michael Marchand. The Learning Garden project continues in the tradition of its original mission and values, rooted in: maintaining authenticity as an experiential teaching and learning tool, cultivating caring community, using small grants well, and cultivating new crops of student volunteers. Thank you! Stay tuned as the Learning Garden continues. . . 

Thanks to teachers Mr Ryan Scorgie and Mme Michelle Hamilton!

Thursday, August 14, 2014

New Friends of the Learning Garden

Dear Friends of the Learning Garden,

We are so very grateful this week to Nurturing Nature of Lake Country BC for their donations of worm castings. This allows us to nurture our soil, and rehabilitate it after the past few years of displacement.  Yesterday The Learning Garden crew took a tour of Nurturing Nature.  Here is a photo of Darcy from Nurturing Nature and Angela, Learning Garden Manager . . . 

. . . dreams of worm castings dance in our heads! Imagine the possibilities. Now that we have live organic matter in our boxes, the soil's the limit. 

Hope and the future for me are not in lawns and cultivated fields, not in towns and cities, but in the impervious and quaking swamps.

― Henry David ThoreauWalking

Thank you, once again to our exceptionally dedicated, and patient, garden crew, and, our wonderfully generous donors. . . and Nurturing Nature, in particular.  Thanks for helping to inspire and promote true environmental awareness! 

In solidarity,


In short, all good things are wild and free.

― Henry David ThoreauWalking

Work . .

Dear Friends of the Learning Garden, 

So much to report this week, where to begin? As we enter into the deep of August, let our first thoughts be for corn. Grown from fresh kernels nurtured by the sun.

Remember slipping and sliding up to the garden in days gone by? 
Remember rolling on the pebbles like it was a PNE ride? 

Well, thanks to Dewan and Kieran, we now have a much more user-friendly staircase. Check it out. Before . . .

. . .  and after! Let the good times roll! Great craftsmanship, guys.

We have maintained good, simple, spaces for thought. . . 

Strawberry plants planted . . . 

 Flowers growing . . .
 Tomatoes . . 

And Zuccinni flowers. . . great deep fried, or try Zuccinni cakes


So thankful for the beautiful August bounty and, the open-hearted crew, working alongside the lovely way of nature, letting her do her thing. 

Stay tuned . . . 


Friday, August 01, 2014


Dear friends of the Learning Garden,

Summer's heating up in the Okanagan . . fortunately our excellent garden crew (Angela, Dewan and Kieran) have the skills and passion to nurture the life that grows there. There's corn growing, and kale, lettuce, herbs, peppers - and squash! More photos to come, so please stay tuned. 

Environmental degradation of our oceans and earth continues. . . and positive, life-giving choices need to be made about how we will co-exist and honour the life that we are a part of. 

As the Learning Garden quietly thrives, and sows the work now for Fall activities, it also seems like a good time now to pause and thank all of the students who have lent a helping hand over the past 8 (yes!) years!! A heart-felt thanks. Because of you, the UBCO campus has retained a bit of pine forest and green-space that includes: a pond, a First Nations fire pit, and a lovely little learning garden. The space brings peace to everyone on campus. 

Kieran and Dewan: You rock!

A poem about gratitude, connection and memory from Winston Abbott:

beyond forgetting
. . . 

that my life is not a solitary thing
it is a bit of the rushing tide
a leaf of the bending tree
a kernel of grain the golden wheat fields
a whisper of wind about the mountaintop
a reflection of sunlight upon the shining waters

it is fleeting

it is of the moment

it is timeless

it is of eternity.
-Winston O. Abbott


Veronica Gaylie

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

World of Wheat

Big news. 

all that dreaming paid off, look!

the wheat sprouted last week
despite the heat

all we feel is honour, 
at the systems already in place

and gratitude for the hard working garden crew
(Dewan, Kieran, Angela and others)
who work and grow
even in the furnace of an Okanagan summer,

for the wheat

+ + + 

Canadian wheat has an uphill battle these days, including:
Furthermore, the word-wide wheat shortage reached the UK in 2012.

Please let us be poetic
and upstanding
like the mighty wheat -
with gratitude,


Monday, July 07, 2014

Weeds and Wheat

Summer greetings,

There's new life in the Learning Garden...

Meet Dewan Darnardi, Undergraduate Research Assistant, Learning Garden. Go Dewan!
Meanwhile Angela Finlay is the stellar summer Garden Manager.  

RIght now, the crew is weeding, doing some planting, and fixing up the old school compost box.

Last month, a bird (kill-deer) made a nest in the centre of the Celtic Spiral...under a lone, 7 inch tall weed.  The bird did its best to protect the eggs...from this increasingly popular human meditation place. As always, the garden made room and space, for all. 

Student Sharline Konkin has created a space age strawberry tower, which raises moisture from below. Note the genius of the PVC pipes...vertical gardens...and the cool use of space:

Sharline's daughter, Eiliya, another friend of the Learning Garden:

Meanwhile, weeds continue to bring questions and callouses. On the one hand, we have never wanted a perfectly manicured garden here at the LG. On the other...to what extent do aggressive weeds take over and choke out all other species? On the other (three hands?) the drive for the perfect lawn has brought about aggressive pesticides and genetic mutations.

Dr. Leonard Perry at the University of Vermont has this to say:

"Most may think this topic absurb at first glance, but there are actually reasons you might want to have a garden of weeds.  They can provide greens for cooking, medicinal uses, crafts, or food for wildlife.  Most weeds double as wildflowers, some more attractive than others and so better suited for a garden just for beauty.
The best way to control weed seed dispersal is to cut them off before they ripen.  Use an old-fashioned scythe, grass clippers, hedge shears, or string trimmer to cut back to half height after flowering.  If you don't get to this, as I often don't, then mulch desirable weed plants with at least two inches of grass clippings or similar organic matter.  Or you can weed your weed garden, odd as this sounds, as you would any garden."
Weeding...the weeds? 

Mother Earth says:

"Contrary to their reputation, beneficial weeds under certain circumstances can be helpful in the garden by holding top-soil, pulling up water and nutrients, providing food, controlling insects and more."

Sometimes it's good to think of things another way.

Dream of Wheat

Turning to wheat, the dreaming of planting wheat in the Celtic Spiral has come true. Thanks to Dewan and Kieran Rogers, Learning Garden Club. Yes- those are the rocks collected by the school children last Spring.

Planting wheat will help us raise awareness of the world food shortage, including the wheat shortage in Britain last year, due to climate change and flooding. We also support the Canadian Wheat Growers. Thanks also to our funder, TD Friends of the Environment Foundation, for making this project possible.

Long live the weeds and the wildness yet.
Gerard Manley Hopkins

All for now.

Monday, April 07, 2014

Green Radio Network

Dear Garden Friends,

Students continue to labour in their 12 week student teaching practica, enlivening classrooms across the Southern BC interior. (Very proud of all). The Learning Garden slumbers in the BC Southern Interior. . . 

. . . and Green Radio Network lives. 

Tune in. Green is good.

See you all soon.


Friday, November 29, 2013

Rocks and Ripples

Dear Middle Years Philosophy Class and Friends,

One very special day this term, Rutland Middle School and their teacher, Mr. Ryan Scorgie, visited the Learning Garden and the Middle School Teacher Ed class. 

We collected rocks, built a Celtic Spiral, then filled it with soil.

Click to view the slideshow:


Why a spiral?

In Celtic art and symbolism, the spiral represents the path leading from the outer world (materialism, external awareness, ego) to the inner (enlightened, intuitive)world. 

Some other spirals....

and who could forget,

More on our aspiring garden spiral in Spring 2014. 

With peace, for the coming weeks,


Of Middle years philosophy, and the Fruit
Of that learning garden and peace tree, That
Brought light and inspiration into our pedagogy
Sing O Educational Muse!
And though this poem, epic not be
This course truly was.
. . .

(From student Chris England's poem, "The Legend of Philosophers 2013", read during our final class of the term).