Feast Bowl
Intergenerational Landed Learning Project

Intergenerational Landed Learning Project

Intergenerational Landed Learning Project

The big idea: reach out and connect retired farmers with school children to ignite intergenerational learning on environmental stewardship and sustainable food systems.

It was a good idea but it proved to be an oxymoron, a contradiction in terms. It was like advertising for unicorns — they don’t really exist because such folks never really ‘retire’ true farmers do their best to keep their hands in and working with the soil they love.

So the founders of the Intergenerational Landed Learning Project (ILLP) at UBC’s Department of Curriculum and Pedagogy, Faculty of Education, widened the definition, prepared the groundwork and in 2002 planted their first garden.

They began with seven community seniors, technically ‘retired’ but still bursting with knowledge, one far-sighted elementary school teacher and an inquisitive class of 18 Grade 7 students.

Fourteen years later, the ILLP program is flourishing in a small but busy plot of land at UBC Farm. Throughout the school year, about 60 ‘Farm Friend’ volunteers (the ILLP provides any necessary training) and elementary school children from four different Lower Mainland schools meet together at UBC Farm. In small groups of one elder, one younger volunteer, and four children, they experience hands-on interdisciplinary learning that utilizes the farm as a ‘living lab’ where experimentation, play and learning go hand in hand.

Stacy Friedman, project manager, says the program provides “an opportunity for youth to make tangible connections between consumer habits and the environment through food.” The Farm Friends help mentor the children (ages 8 to 12) in how to plant and grow fresh food in raised garden beds, and how to use it to prepare healthy snacks. Gardening and cooking together creates an exchange of intergenerational, experiential learning, and says Friedman “an opportunity to practice collaboration and care for each other, the Earth, and ourselves.”

One of the significant benefits for children participating in the program is understanding where our living food comes from. Friedman posits that awareness of food systems can be lacking in urban lifestyles: “In the city, we just have the sense that food arrives from ‘somewhere’ and then when you’re done with it, you just send it to a place called ‘away’.”

With an increasingly threatened global food system, what is being planted by the Intergenerational Landed Learning participants is more than seedlings — it’s an investment in our global future that will grow a more sustainable way of interacting with — and taking sustenance from — the land.

Interested in getting your own hands dirty? For more info on the benefits and how to get involved with the ILLP, please check the Intergenerational Landed Learning website.

Other Stories from the Field

Story Credits

Special thanks to all of our story partners:

Centre for Sustainable Food Systems at UBC Farm: Hannah Wittman, Academic Director; Ryan Weemhoff, Sales Manager; Véronik Campbell, Academic Programs Manager; Shannon Lambie, former Communications Coordinator; Hannah Lewis, Community Education Coordinator; Jaylin Melnichuk, former Feast Bowl Intern; Clare Cullen, Operations Director; Sarah Clements, Flower Intern and Practicum Field Mentor.

Faculty of Land and Food Systems: Jennifer Honeybourn, Director, Communications; Sean Smukler, Assistant Professor; students of APBI 260 Food & Environment 1; Gabriel Maltais-Landry, Postdoctoral Research Fellow.

Other: Leonard Foster, Professor, Faculty of Medicine; Stacy Friedman, Program Manager, Intergenerational Landed Learning Project, Faculty of Education; Steve Golob, Chef, Place Vanier Residence.

Special thanks to the entire staff at the UBC Farm who have appeared in any of our photographs — thank you!

Story team: UBC Communications & Marketing — Cindy Connor, Online Producer; Martin Dee, UBC Photographer; Margaret Doyle, Digital Storyteller; Paul Joseph, UBC Photographer; Michael Kam, Web Developer; Adrian Liem, Manager, Digital Communications; Laura Stobbe, Communication Designer; Mark Pilon, Communication Designer; Jamil Rhajiak, Photographer; Aida Viziru, Web Interaction Designer; Matt Warburton, Manager, Graphic Design; Mormei Zanke, Assistant Writer. Additional copywriting — David Leidl, Copy Editor. Additional video direction and editing — Lu Zhang, Editor, Video Director; Lucas Hrubizna, Editor.

Thank you: The University of British Columbia Archives