About

I work as a School Garden Educator and Outdoor Educator in Toronto. I work at a few Toronto schools during the school year, and spend many of the school holidays in High Park with the Childrens’ Eco Programs there. The schools where I work all have their own food gardens (or are in the process of building one), so those are the focus of my work.

Fun Fair - Blake 2012 GardenI find food to be such a good tool for teaching about a huge range of different topics.  For someone who could never decide at school which subjects to focus on, food is a way to bring everything together. I also always prefered classes that involved hands-on components.

 

Through food garden programming, we can explore plant life cycles and biodiversity, learn about garden creatures, measure and map garden beds, learn about the people involved in the food system, sing and write poems about gardens, all while getting our hands dirty and learning about our natural environment through hands-on experience. And the best part is, learning in the garden eventually results in getting to eat something delicious!

I have learned a ton in the past eight years as a garden educator and my confidence has grown in leaps and bounds. It’s a super rewarding job – I get to work outside with kids, and often see their “ahha moments” when they’re using things they’ve learned in class in a real-world hands-on setting. And seeing what new food they’re willing to try (and often enjoy) when they’ve grown, harvested and prepared it themselves is pretty great. It’s also rewarding to be able to use the French I learned throughout my school days, and to be able to provide programming in both English and French.

In High Park, I work with the City of Toronto Children’s Eco Programs, which I’ve been doing since 2010. For the first few years, I worked as a Camp Speciality Instructor during summer and March Break camps. This past summer, I was the Eco Program Coordinator, helping to oversee our summer camp programs.

You’ll also find me at farmers’ markets – I often help out “my farmers” at Wychwood Market on Saturdays. “My farmers” are the farmers from Wooler Dale Farm, where I did a 6-month internship in 2009 and gained a ton of gardening knowledge. What an amazing experience!

When I’m not doing food-related things, you’re likely to find me folkdancing, cross-country skiing, or exploring the green spaces in and around the city.

I use this blog to keep track of what’s going on in my various gardens, what lessons and activities I’ve been working on with the kids, and sharing other stories about local food and food education that get me excited. I also write about my other outdoor education adventures, which may not seem food-related, but in my mind they often are. My personal interest in local and sustainable food and gardening comes mostly from an environmental point of view, and I place a huge importance on getting kids outside and having them be ok with getting dirty. Though my main focus has become food and gardening, to me, gardening with kids is just one of many aspects of outdoor/environmental education. So while the focus of this blog will generally be food education, I hope you enjoy the occasional forays into other outdoor adventures!

Happy growing!

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One response to this post.

  1. Cool gig you have my Estonian friend!
    -Danno O’Shea (Will’s drums)

    Reply

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