Overview and History

The Intergenerational Landed Learning on the Farm for the Environment Project is an initiative of the Department of Curriculum and Pedagogy in the Faculty of Education at the University of British Columbia, Vancouver. It is located at the Centre for the Study of Sustainable Food Systems at UBC Farm. Its overarching purpose is to advance knowledge and understanding of sustainable living, learning and practice through land-food-community based environmental education programs and research. Our commitment is to improving the wellbeing of people, communities and the planet through environmental education and research.

Based on the belief that eating is an environmental act, the Project provides year-round educational programs for youth ages 6 through 12 and adult volunteers, that foster stewardship for the Earth by providing Canadians across the lifespan with knowledge, experience, and skills needed to make informed decisions about how they can use food and land resources wisely, practice healthy lifestyles, and live sustainably.

The Intergenerational Landed Learning on the Farm for the Environment Project began in 2002 and for the first two years operated with one teacher, a class of 18 grade seven students, and seven community elders with farming and gardening backgrounds who became “Farm Friends”. Each farm elder partnered with three students to form six “Farm Friend teams.” Between January and June, the students visited the UBC Farm to meet and work with their farm friends on thirteen occasions.

The teams cultivated the soil, grew plants and discussed different environmental and scientific issues that related to farming and gardening. The students interviewed their elderly farm friends about farming practices and learned about their history and lives on the land.

Students maintained a journal documenting their farming activities. Small scientific “controlled” experiments were planned and carried out. These were also recorded in the students’ journals. At the close of the project year in June, students gave class presentations that visually represented their experiences on the farm and what they had learned about the environment, planting, farming practices and living with the land, from conducting experiments and working with their farm friends.

FARMWONDERS began with two one-week summer camps that enrolled 21 children. The camp has grown every year and in the summer of 2010, FarmWonders ran nine weeks of summer camp programming.

Since 2004-05 the Landed Learning School Year Program has continued to work each year with three classes of students who now come from three different Vancouver schools. In 2006-07, the program became multi-generational when undergraduate and graduate students at UBC asked to be involved as Farm Friends. With their addition we created a model for small group multigenerational learning. Multigenerational Farm Friend teams include one undergraduate or graduate student, a senior volunteer, and three or four children.

In summer 2010 we began The Sustainable Opportunities for Youth Leadership (SOYL) Internship Program for adolescents. SOYL has helped eight Vancouver teenagers to become environmental leaders through establishing and maintaining school gardens, and learning about food security in their schools and communities.

Since the inception Landed learning has reached over 1300 students, 300 volunteers and 9 different teachers. The Intergenerational Landed Learning Project has become a model for other programs across British Columbia and Canada. Programs modeled on Intergenerational Landed Learning have begun with kindergarten children in St. Andrews, NB. The Terra Nova Project was started in Richmond, BC and the Intergenerational Landed Learning Project at the Okanagan Science Centre in Vernon, BC.