By Jindi Tao, Experiential Learning Community Educator – UBC Career Experience Practicum
Hi everyone! I’m Jindi, a fourth-year student in Food, Nutrition, and Health at UBC’s Faculty of Land and Food System. Super excited to be volunteering with Fresh Roots this fall as an Experiential Learning Community Educator! During this experience, I’ve boosted key soft skills like public speaking, facilitation, group management, experiential activity planning, and digital design. These skills are super versatile for any future job path. They’ve played a significant role in my practicum, allowing me to apply my academic learning in real-world scenarios and enhancing my understanding of how farm-based community education connects people with their food, the land, and their communities. I am deeply grateful for this opportunity. It has not only provided me with a comprehensive insight into the professional world but also initiated my network building, meeting new folks, and figuring out my plans for graduate studies, all while growing more confident. I’m eager to share the work I’ve done in preparing for our school’s spring field trip to the farm.
Improving Soil Health and Preparing Pathways
When we make a new garden, we want good, loose soil that is not full of grass or other roots. This late autumn, we’ve used a lot of leaves and straw to raise our bed. These straws are rich in carbon and are the key element for healthy soil. As these materials decompose, they gradually release nutrients back into the soil, enhancing its fertility. Also, we’ve been putting down cardboard sheets over the grass. It’s a cool, organic way to naturally block the grass, which eventually dies off in a few weeks. Also, the cardboard breaks down and mixes into the soil after a while. After that, we’ve got ourselves a clean, soft path, and even better, it will be a future boost for the soil’s health.
Mulching with leaves is a cool trick we use to improve the soil’s health. The kids, as young gardeners, get hands-on with mulching in their garden beds, learning how it fertilizes the soil with resilient materials. At Grandview ¿uuqinak’uuh Elementary School garden, we’ve got this awesome worm hotel that shows perfectly how yellow leaves gradually become brown dirt. This hands-on experience not only teaches them about soil health but also about the natural cycle of decomposition. It’s a practical lesson in sustainability and ecology, helping them understand the importance of organic matter in gardening. Mulching with leaves provides organic nutrients to the soil bed so the earthworms will be happy! It’s a fun way for kids to connect with nature and see the direct impact of their efforts in the garden.
Making Medicinal Salves
With early winter rolling in, we shifted from the school garden to indoor activities. One awesome project was making salves with dried plants from our native plant garden. We gathered fresh yarrow and plantain from the Norquay garden, throwing in some dried nettles and sage, to whip up healing lip balms. These balms form a protective layer on the lips, locking in moisture and shielding them from harsh weather. This activity not only taught me about native plants’ medical functions but also about making useful, natural products. I got to experience the full cycle, from picking the plants to creating something beneficial and practical. It’s a great blend of science, craft, and health, engaging them in a unique, hands-on learning experience and sparking their interest in natural remedies and sustainable practices.
A Big Thank You to Jindi! ❤️
Jindi spent September – December 2023 with Fresh Roots, helping make hands-on learning outside a reality at our schoolyard farms and Grandview ¿uuqinak’uuh Elementary School garden. With the transition to colder months, Jindi assisted the team with developing new lesson plans, teaching kids how to cook, and sharing our stories with the community, like in this blog. Thank you Jindi, for your curiosity, imagination, and connections with the students every step of the way! We look forward to seeing where you go next – Andrea, Experiential Learning Program Lead