Thankful: harvesting experiential learning in the community by digging into the curriculum through community engagement and place-based learning

November 10, 2018 - 4 minutes read

Blog Post by Community School Coordinator, Sarah Haxby

It was a beautiful fall day. As a class, we paused in the long driveway and looked up. We were standing under horse chestnut trees planted over a century ago. Looking to the left, we could see a treehouse, high up in another old tree. We could hear the wind rustle the dry leaves, which also crunched underfoot. We spent a moment to stop, and appreciate where we stood, on land that had been farmed for over a century, with generations of farmers working to grow food in our community. In the distance, a deer grazed. We imagined what the land might have been like before it became farmland, when the first peoples were on the island…we imagined what it was like to try to get food from the land, enough food for our families, and to be thankful to our families and farmers for providing us with food. And then we went on a tour of a market farm and learned where and how some of our food comes from.

A Community School Coordinator helps to bring the school into the community and the community into the school, for the benefit of all, and one of the ways this has happened has been through a BC Farm to School (F2S) program grant and support from the BICS PAC which allowed every class at BICS to visit the Home Farm team at Endswell Farm, which is one of the oldest farms on Bowen Island.

With over a century of farming, and many families living and working on the site over the years, we had three generations of the Montgomery family helping with the tours at one point. Students went into the greenhouse and walked through the rows of the 12′ tall tomato plants. They learned about how the farm grows food, how it recycles and re-uses things on the farm and how a market garden works. Students were challenged to think about the amount of work that goes into growing enough food for a meal, and to see and identify what ingredients might be grown at the farm, such as tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, cauliflower, salad greens, eggplants, herbs, carrots, apples, and more, and to think about trying to grow some vegetables at home.

By experiencing the memorable sights, sounds, smells, and the experience of being on a working market-garden-farm and seeing how the old farm and new farm blend together, students learned onsite, made connections to the people behind the food, local history as well as to where food is grown. Sowing the seeds of experiential learning to grow understanding and to harvest a sense of community through an abundance of connections.

To succeed on this Ambitious field trip involving 300+ students, the students and the farmers were Responsible, Open and Resilient. Many thanks to the funders and especially to Rosie Montgomery, and all the Home farm staff for making this experiential learning opportunity possible.