“School and Garden” by Nevena Ivankovic

UBC teacher candidates participate in a 3-week Community Field Experience (CFE) with the Intergenerational Landed Learning Project. Inspired by their experiences in the children’s garden, they explore curriculum development in their own disciplines. 

This post is by Nevena Ivankovic, a secondary teacher candidate in Earth Science and Geology.

School and Gardening

For the past three weeks I was given the opportunity to complete my community field experience (a practicum to experience teaching outside of the classroom) at the UBC Farm’s Intergenerational Landed Learning program. At the start of the week I had no idea what to expect! As a new teacher who only has experience with high school science students, and is at level 0 in gardening, I was nervous to say the least. However, I was also extremely excited to learn about the garden and work with younger students.

Mondays were days dedicated to preparing for the children’s visits their school garden as well as general garden care around the Landed Learning gardens. For me this was an opportunity to be a sponge and soak up as much information as I could on how to build successful garden beds and to really observe how the school gardens were being cared for and organised. It was a wonderful experience for myself to first get comfortable in the garden and get over any nervousness around insects, spiders, and tasting food in the garden. It was little things like tasting the flowers on a kale plant (delicious!) that increased my own comfort in the garden, which helped spread that comfort and ease to the students. Also being able to get my hands dirty was a great reminder of how much fun it can be, and the more fun I was having the more I was able to inspire the students to get dirty, and messy, and have a fun, relaxed time in the garden. This really reinforced the necessity of the teacher enjoying what they are teaching, so the students can feed off of their positive energy. The more interested I was in harvesting lettuce or investigating the dandelions the more invested and interested the students were!

Tuesdays were also a unique experience for me because I got to interact with one of the classes, who have a class garden at the farm, in their classroom. It was really fascinating to see the students experience a more traditional classroom learning and learning at their gardens. Apart from having a great time with the students, I continuously observed the different ways students succeeded and struggled in the classroom in comparison to the garden. I think its an important thing for every teacher to see in order to understand the importance of allowing every student to shine and succeed, but also to allow students who constantly easily succeed to struggle. When I mean struggle, it is not that the students fail, but that they learn to work harder to achieve success to prepare with the resilience of when they encounter academic hardship or any other hardship that they are not use to.

On Wednesdays and Thursdays the students came to their school gardens. Helping the students learn about garden care and inquire about the environment around was an extraordinary experience! What made the experience even more unique was that four different schools had their gardens at the UBC farm. This allowed me to see different school environments and how they take advantage of the opportunity of the school garden, and how different students react to the activities provided with the Landed Learning program.

One of the most interesting days was when the students got the opportunity to visit the bees on the farm. The strong majority of the students visited the bees. I was so proud to see students respect the bees and come to understand that bees have no desire to sting them, as long as they remain calm. I was especially impressed with the students who gradually surpassed their fear of the bees to enter.


Overall, I highly recommend to everyone to experience volunteering with the Intergenerational Landed Learning program, if you can! The most rewarding thing I witnessed during my three weeks was the relationships between the students and the farm friends (volunteers). It is beautiful to see these relationships, and I only wish I was there longer to form more of that kind of relationship with the students.


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