Welcome. The project started from a placement at university. Looking at the situation of school gardens in Thunder Bay, Ontario. There are many pieces of the puzzle and eco-justice, social justice, food security and education all find a home at my Blog.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Monday, June 20, 2011

Take Me Outside Project

Day 154 – 39.7 km (total – 3254.2 km)

The Take Me Outside Project is nearing Northern Ontario. If a school can host them for a visit to talk to the children about getting outside, please let Colin know.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Social Networking...

I posed a question on Twitter yesterday and wanted to further explain what I was trying to say. I was with my social work professors during the week and was posed the question whether or not you can teach a student to network. I don't mean networking as in making a computer network, but to learn how to talk with other people, to social network?

I don't know if this is actually a quantifiable skill that can be taught. I believe this comes from experience of being with others and talking with others. Its a life skill that maybe has been lost over the years. Citizens don't seem to like interacting with each other or their environment anymore. People seem to have lost that sense of caring that used to be evident in neighborhoods where every adult would be responsible to watching out for the young in the area. I remember being able to go out and play without adult supervision for hours, if not all day. Nowadays parents are all watching over their children for fears and safety concerns.

If networking is a skill be taught in social work class, how can this come to be? During my placement, I've talked to many people about school gardens. I've met many people over the last 6 months and enjoyed interacting with like-minded people to help implement school gardens in the schools of Thunder Bay. I think one of the reasons I've enjoyed this so much is because I actually like people and like talking with people. This is definitely an asset when it comes to macro based community practice. Many social work students go into the profession it seems because of their micro skills. Can these be used in macros based practice too? Is it so difficult to interact with the larger community to discover assets and gifts to help people in the larger neighbourhood before clinical counselling and micro skills are needed? 

Here's some more of my thoughts on social networking skills. Why is it that many people just don't seem to care anymore? Why do we stand behind our curtains and watch our neighbours but don't join in? To greet each other? and how can we change that? How can our younger students learn how to interact in the community?

Saturday, June 18, 2011


I just wanted to say Congratulations to St Bernards school in Thunder Bay for starting their school garden over the last couple of weeks. I'm only too sorry that I have moved away and haven't seen the wonders of this new garden. Its a first for a Catholic School in Thunder Bay and to be highly celebrated. I hope all works out over the summer and the kids get to sample their hard work in the Fall!

Monday, June 13, 2011


Just wanted to say Thank You for all your support over the last 6 months. I am in the process of moving this week and wont be updating the blog for a couple of weeks.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Sustainability of school gardens

I just wanted to post a few ideas I've been thinking about regarding school garden sustainability and eating local. The movement to create school gardens appears to be gaining in momentum, but there is always the question,"what about the summer holidays" or,"Teachers already have too much to do" or.,"It always falls to the teachers" How can these questions be addressed in order to make school gardens a reality for students, who benefit so much from the opportunities.

I believe that if there was policy at the school boards, all school could eventually deliver on this form of outdoors education. School boards that have a policy of implementation, could mean that there would be money available for training and creation of the school gardens. Teachers may need training in gardening and curriculum delivery in the gardens. There are so many curriculum ideas on the internet, much of which is free. Many schools in California seem to have school gardens, why can't this be the case in Ontario and Nova Scotia is prepared to give each school in the province $500 towards the creation of school gardens. It just doesn't seem to be on the radar screen of the current government in my province.

I know of teachers who are willing and able to make gardens, but without the support of the school boards and administration, it appears a daunting task. Creating and sustaining a garden is more than just the job of the teachers and administration though. Community members can and do get involved with sustaining school gardens. If we look at how many gifts many community members may have, we might be amazed at how many people could actually help in providing assistance and curriculum ideas to teachers. Local knowledge is often the best knowledge and there may be some master gardeners in the neighbourhood that you never knew about. Local elders may know even more about the local environment and be able to help with lesson ideas and support for teachers. I have learned that you never know until you ask and ask away, you never know what you might find out and if you don't ask, you'll never know!!!

Local community groups may also be in a position to help sustain a garden. There are certainly many schools with after school programs or even summer camps, that can go out into the garden for science adventures or art classes. If there are summer programs, you might be able to entice even more people with the possibility of free, organic produce with work in the garden. I've even heard of schools offering summer picnics or parties in exchange for summer work in a garden.

These are just some of my ideas and ideas I have borrowed from others. Its amazing what you can find out when you network and talk with each other. We need to create that possibility of exchange and learn from each other. Local produce, in my mind is often the best and helping schools create gardens that give that possibility to children is a wonderful opportunity. We need to recreate a local and more sustainable food system for the future of our amazing world. School gardens are just the start...

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Reflections on a journey around the north shore.

The North Shore of Lake Superior.

Today I am travelling from Thunder Bay to Sault Ste Marie, Ontario. The journey by car takes about 8 hours, give or take moose or bear encounters and the breath taking scenery that is the North Shore of the World’s largest lake.

The scenery is indeed breathtaking. I have travelled this road many times and I am always amazed by its constant beauty. The road gently travels up and down over high ground to the low ground along the shore of the lake, back into the hills again. The forest seems to go on forever. Around every corner, hill and vista there is something different and new to see, depending on the season and time of day.

I have great respect for the pioneers who first settled this part of Canada and for the First Nation’s people who have lived here for many thousands of years. Recently I spent the day at the Fort William Historical Park in the city of Thunder Bay and learned about those settlers and how they traded with the First Nations people, who taught them how to use canoes and brought them into the interior to trap furs to send back to Europe. It’s a fascinating place to learn about local history and lore of Ontario’s great North.

Living in the north is an awe inspiring journey. It means living with extreme seasons of frigid weather in the winter and heat and thunder storms in the summer. Every day is a bit different from the next. The north shore reflects these seasonal extremes in the way that snow can stick around till June and frosts can reappear in August.  Gardening can be a constant challenge. Local knowledge and information for this can mean success or failure.

Encountering moose and other animals is a constant possibility along the highway that hugs the lakeshore. On occasions, I have seen many animals, close to the road, giving people an amazing and close up view of what animals inhabit this part of the country.  Moose encounters are often and can lead to serious accidents if one is not on the lookout. Other times I have done this journey and not seen anything. Again, it generally depends on the season. Possible to see, are moose, bear, deer, lynx, wolves and of course many majestic birds of prey.
Beaver have also shaped the land. Every corner seems to have a new lake or creek feeding a larger lake. I’ve written a little before about systems. I’m reading a wonderful book at present called Ecological Literacy, educating our children for a sustainable world. This book talks about how we can educating our children based on systems thinking and teaching them how sustainability is important in their lives. Creating gardens in the schools can help spark that creative thinking whereby children can begin this new journey and new way of thinking that can profoundly impact their lives, much like the beaver has impacted the landscape of the north.
The eastern side of Lake Superior is a wonderful place if you enjoy beaches. There are some fabulous, sandy beaches, mixed in to the lakes, rocks and trees that make up the scenery of northern Ontario. I particularly like the beach at Pancake Bay. Its long and sandy, enough to entice any beach lover. I’m not sure about whether or not I would like to swim in the frigid waters of the lake however. I know about the ice that covers the lake in the wintertime. I doubt the water can warm up that much in the short summer season.

Finally we arrived at Sault ste Marie. We only saw a dead moose this time, a casualty of a traffic accident, reminds us all of the wildlife that live along the highway. The scenery was as usual breathtaking. I would totally recommend the trip to anyone who has never been. The highway from Thunder Bay to Sault Ste Marie has to be one of the world’s most spectacular drives.