a The Learning Garden

Monday, November 03, 2014

In Solidarity.

The English and Middle School Student Teachers Cohort at University of British Columbia Okanagan support the 43 missing student teachers in the southern Mexican state of Guerrero. Today, we wrote a poem of support...on the boxes in the Learning Garden.

Mexican students in the rural education college disappeared on 26 September after being attacked by police in the city of Iguala, a city about 130km south-west of Mexico City. Hundreds of thousands of Mexicans, enraged by the attacks and the lack of information, have marched in protest across the country. Families of the missing students confronted Mexico's president. We are inspired by shows of support in Mexico and in other student communities, including: University of Texas, MIT, Harvard, and demonstrations in Buenos Aires,  London, Paris, and Vienna.

Today, our lesson exemplifies the need for literacy, critical literacy, media-literacy, and ecological literacy in education. We look at the need for North Americans to read the news with a critical eye. 

Today we follow on the words of others who have strived for democracy, human rights, and freedom of speech:

"We must teach others to read the word…and the world."
- Paulo Freire

"Day after day, children are denied the right to be children."  
- Eduardo Galeano 

"Teacher, purest creature
Green young man with face fixed
Whoever killed the present for you
Did they believe they were killing the future?"
- Nicolas Guillen, Conrado Benitez

"It is necessary to engage in a campaign of gentleness and knowledge. .  ."  José Julián Martí

The student teachers wrote a class poem: In Solidarity. Each student wrote one line of poetry. Then the poem was written on the garden boxes in the Learning Garden with natural, non-toxic, water-based paints. 

To the student teachers in Mexico we dedicate our poem, in support of Freedom and Free Voices for all.

In Solidarity.

Do not despair.

Hear the voices of those who have gone,
no matter the distance, 
together we are strong.

Radiant potential snuffed out.But in the darknessa light of light. . . 

We had hope. 

Burn on to ignite the fires of change!Exhume the dead for what has passed is not gone.

Stand up 
for what 
you believe in.

(We shared a hope that the next generation would be better).

On top of the load you carry. . .  
weighs such stress and duress 
we fail to fathom.

What can I say to those who have disappeared?  
You are remembered...

You are a symbol of peace, and strength. 

You inspire more than you realize.
Your voices live within us now.
Allow us to carry your voice.

Allow us to give it purpose.

This is a battle we must all continue to fight.
The best educators don't need a classroom in order to teach. 

You are the teachers you aimed to be.

You are us and we are you. 

You have done something I could not.
Now, what can I do for you?


Just as we finished writing the poem, it started to rain. 
Our water-colours ran back into the soil. 
Nature mirrors our tears for you today. 

After it rained, the Canadian winter wheat sprouted.

Until spring,


Friday, October 31, 2014

Fall Update: Wheat, Firepit, Pond

Veronica's classes went to the Learning Garden this Fall. 

A thick crop of wheat was planted in the Celtic Spiral/Labrynth.

Why wheat? Canada is the world's sixth largest supplier of wheat. Wheat is historically considered a kind of 'untouchable' crop - non-GMO crop. In 2004 Canadian farmers opposed Monsanto's bid to introduce GMO wheat. In May 2013, illegally contaminated GMO wheat was found in the US. We would not want to see wheat go the way of Canola.

Last July we reported that inconsistencies around current Canadian Wheat policy includes:

 The word-wide wheat shortage reached the UK in 2012.
In future, food prices will rise, globally.

For all of these reasons and more, the Learning Garden supports organic, non-GMO Canadian wheat growing. We plan to cultivate a curriculum that explores wheat as a food staple, an historical sacred treasure, and as a beautiful, food-bearing grass. 

Imagine the Celtic Spiral filled with wheat come Springtime.

The Firepit

Michael Marchand, Okanagan teacher, also gave his annual talk to the students at the Firepit (a co-creation between Mike and Okanagan artist Kevin Witzke). The Firepit, an exploration of the En'owkin Four Food Chiefs, reminds teachers of their potential, hidden depth and power to make positive contributions to the life-cycle. Thanks for the ongoing inspiration, Mike.

The Old Pond continues to attract wildlife and a wide variety of water plants and
traditional reeds.

Students put the Learning Garden to bed for winter. 


Students filled the composter.

Produce was harvested and brought to the Kelowna Food Bank. 

Thanks all.

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 . . .