Pro-D Day: Integrating Agriculture into School Curriculum

Photos by Trista Yuan

On February 19th, we had our first Professional Development Day of the year at the UBC Farm. Even though the farm was covered by snow, people were happy to be learning outside!

The day was hosted collaboratively with Think and Eat Green @ School, Farm to School BC, and Vancouver School Food Network. Together, we aimed to advance food knowledge among Vancouver teachers and the community through six informative and hands-on mini-workshops (specific information in the table below).

Workshop themes featured hands-on gardening basics, cooking and food literacy, and integrating gardening and food into the curriculum.


Megan Zeni – Playful Inquiry in the School Garden Workshop


The gardening workshops equipped teachers with practical gardening skills from planting seeds and transplanting with children to season-based garden management, and provided teachers with the VSB basic garden guide, Rooted in Place. Teachers extended ideas for cultivating academic, cross-curricular learning in the school garden through fun and engaging curriculum development workshops. The food workshops prepared teachers to delve into food literacy with their students, exploring the stories of ordinary foods, like grains, and the potential of imperfect foods, like ugly produce. The full farm to table experience offers a new perspective for both teachers and students to think critically about food and our choices as consumers.

Kailee Hirshe (Landed Learning) – Preparing for Spring in the Garden

Teachers left the day ready to teach their students about symmetry in plants, easy and fun meal preparation, and how to plant a seed so their community can have beautiful, bountiful garden!


“Hands-on, interactive, practical!” – Feedback from a participating teacher


One of the highlights of the day was a delicious lunch prepared in the two food stream workshops.

A workshop themed around food waste gave the seconds (food that would normally be rejected by retailers and groceries and thrown away) a second chance to be used in meals. Teachers used the seconds donated from various local farms and turned them into three different types of salads and colourful dipping sauces.

A workshop focused on grains took teachers through the field to fork experience, by preparing whole grains (donated by Cedar Isle Farm) for a pizza crust, and preparing local seasonal toppings, such as squash, roasted garlic, and kale pesto. Every participant enjoyed a zesty, nutritious, sustainable, and satiating lunch.


Teachers preparing for lunch using donated produce


Thank you to the Vancouver Farmers Market, UBC Farm, Terra Breads, and Whole Foods for connecting teachers with good food on this memorable day!


Stream Workshops Speaker(s) Workshop Description
Hands-on Garden Basics
Nikoo Boroumand, SPEC  Prepares teachers to effectively manage school gardens as year-round learning grounds. Specifically, preparing garden beds for planting, planting seeds, transplanting seedlings, watering, weeding, and harvesting, while considering seasonal differences.  
Preparing for Spring in the Garden
Kailee Hirshe, Landed Learning, UBC Farm Teaches ways to engage students in school garden during the winter and into the early spring through caring for and building the soil through the rainy months, preparing for spring planting, and exploring foods that can be harvested this season. 
Food Literacy
Working with Food Waste
Selma van Halder, Fare Kitchen Literacy & Paula Neuman, SPCA  Explores creative ways to reuse food waste or seconds at farm or market to prepare safe and nutritious meals at home and support food sustainability.
Growing, Grinding, Eating, and Learning through Grains!
Tori Ostenso & Stacy Friedman, Landed Learning
Introduces how to grow, process, cook, and inquire through the lens of grains to discover the multifunctionality and the importance of grains in different cultures. 
Curriculum Development
Playful Inquiry in the School Garden
Megan Zeni, The Classroom Gardener Provides ready-to-use teaching resources to inspire mathematical thinking, scientific inquiry, and storytelling in school gardens through playful inquiry, developing students’ competencies to think interdisciplinarily and succeed academically. 
Linking School Garden Activities to the New BC Curriculum Standards
Nikoo Boroumand, SPEC Gives tips on how to incorporate the school garden into classroom curriculum by linking it to various school subjects as well as discusses tips for outdoor classroom management and inquiry-based learning