“Connect & Wonder” by Chris Rich, a Teacher Participant in Our Project

We are thrilled and honoured to have impacts on people, the local community, and our food system.
Chris Rich is a teacher participating in a directed study at the Landed Learning children’s learning garden, and he has shared his explorations and insights into incorporating food and gardening into the school curriculum within his post below.

Connect & Wonder by Chris Rich

As I do with my students, I’ve begun my personal inquiry with a period of connection and wonder. To define the big ideas, my goals, and hopefully stumble across some driving questions that will, pardon the pun, plant the seeds of my learning.




For me, my passion for and connection with food begins early on in life, watching my Grandmother cook the food we loved as a family. Beginning with the lick of a spoon and the interest in spending time in the kitchen learning alongside my “Gramma”, as I called her, my relationship with food has been growing and evolving for some time. As an adult, with a love of the process of cooking/creating with fresh beautiful ingredients, I have found that I’ve become, in recent years, very interested in where my food comes from, the processes of how and where it was grown, and how I might connect my passion for creatively working with/playing with/cooking with these foods to the entire process. To start from scratch, and more specifically in relation to gardening, to cook the food I grow. So how do I do that?


Admittedly, even for someone who has a fairly deep knowledge of food and where it comes from, the idea of growing it myself, as exciting as it is, is a bit intimidating. A big process with much to learn, the growing of food has seemed daunting at times. With every question answered leading to 2 or 3 new questions, it seems there’s a life’s worth of learning ahead of me. Time to remind myself to KEEP IT SIMPLE, and start easy with baby steps… I like to, and have a tendency to throw myself into the deep end, and as much as my initial impulse says “dive in and dig deep”, I’m going to need to start with the small things. So what are my wonders? I have many:
  • What kind of soil is best for a school garden (plots/boxes)?
  • Where do I get that soil?
  • How do I/we care for that soil between growing seasons?
  • What do we plant?
  • Should I plant from seed or start with seedlings/young plants?
  • How long will it take to grow said plants, and what plants might best fit into the school calendar in order to make the most of the experience for the kids?
  • How much will it cost to fund a school garden?
  • How might I share the learning potential/opportunities of the garden with school’s other educators in order to engage the whole school in the process?
  • How will we define a “successful” garden?
  • How will I authentically integrate the First Peoples Principals throughout the process and the learning?
                                                       …I could go on.

What is a Garden?

 As I began this period of connection and wonder, I really enjoyed our discussion about what a garden was. As we shared ideas and talked about our personal experiences, one idea came to the forefront time and time again: Community. In so many ways a garden was without a doubt connected deeply to the idea of community: People and place, and the strings that link the two.  For me, gardens have historically been a place of sustenance, work, and generational learning. A place for family, for rooting oneself to the land and the place in which live. A place for learning, play, and exploration. A place of knowing and learning. A gathering place. It seems as our understanding of the devastating impact we’ve had on this planet of ours deepens, a growing interest in lessening our footprint and getting back to the land, simplifying, and naturalizing our lives, has began to burble up in our society/communities. Farm to table practices, 100 mile diets, “eat local, buy local” movements, farmers markets, urban community gardens, backyard chicken coops and beehives… our world is changing and some, thank goodness, are seeking to redefine their relationship with this planet and the communities in which they live. Hopefully as I continue on this path as an individual, a husband, a father, I can in my own small way, be a positive influence, have a positive impact, and leave the people and places I touch in my short life, better for having known me.

A student’s perspective…

Having spent some time mulling over the idea of a garden and what the school garden might mean to me, I wanted to touch base with my student Clare (Grade 3)  who has essentially been left as caretaker of the school garden by her older sister and see what her hopes were for the garden and what she was hoping to do with her “Garden Club” in the coming months. It was interesting to see that many of her thoughts and feelings about the garden aligned with many of the ideas that we had discussed on our first day at the farm. In short form, here are some of her thoughts:

  • “bring people together” 
  • “Something fun to do as a group”
  • “Get kids involved in something good”
  • “Make new friends”
  • “Something to do with others all year” 
  • “Learn about plants and gardening”
  • “Eat the food we grow”

Needless to say, she’s obviously a rather thoughtful 9 year old, and perhaps older and wiser than her years might indicate, but what stands out for me is that even at nine, she quickly made the connection to community and the positive impact of learning and bringing others together in the process.A good place to start, I think.

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