Intergenerational Landed Learning on the Farm

Develops Green Thumb and Green Principles

Less than an hour’s commute from his home in east Vancouver, an eight-year-old boy tends to his crop at the UBC farm. Like most inner-city kids he’s never been on a farm, let alone had the opportunity to sink his hands into the earth and feel the satisfaction of growing his own food. As the sun warms the back of his neck, he begins to see how the soil he tills is connected to the air he’s breathing; how a rainy Vancouver afternoon helps to nurture the seeds he’s planted, and how our entire environment is connected to the meal that he’ll share with his family tonight.

Designed to re-imagine and reconstruct the farm experience, the UBC Faculty of Education’s Intergenerational Landed Learning on the Farm for the Environment Project is giving children in Vancouver’s urban centre the chance of a lifetime. Funded by donors, this faculty initiative offers authentic outside-of-the-classroom learning opportunities for children, as they work side by side with a diverse group of people of many ages who have spent their lives learning from the land.

Through experiential learning, mentorship, and place-based learning, the project explores how participation in an urban farming project can foster environmental consciousness, respect for nature, and an understanding of food-land issues. “When children take care of the earth, they learn to take care of their home,” says Jolie Mayer-Smith, the Landed Learning Project’s co-creator and an associate professor in the Department of Curriculum and Pedagogy at the UBC Faculty of Education. “If there’s one thing that we want our kids to remember, it’s that everything is connected to everything.”

By researching the challenges teachers face when they integrate environmental field-based experiences into their curriculum, how intergenerational landed learning can influence the environmental consciousness of children, and how these experiences will influence their daily lives, this unique Faculty of Education project is providing children with a new way to learn, while investigating ways in which young people can develop a better understanding and appreciation for the land. The potential impact on the future stewards of the earth is tremendous, one eight-year-old from Vancouver at a time.

Support for programs like the Intergenerational Landed Learning on the Farm for the Environment Project ensures that UBC’s Faculty of Education can continue to discover new ways to improve their learning experiences as well as promote sustainability among children.