I don’t know if it was the cobb houses, the unidentified leafy greens being passed around for a nibble, or simply exposure to fresh air and turned soil, but today’s dual experience with urban farms (UBC Farm and City Farmer) was nothing if not a flashback to the rural lifestyle we discovered on the Sunshine Coast retreat. What’s amazing about this is that such a calm escape could be simulated amazingly within city limits, providing a beacon of hope and inspiration for many students envisioning more productive utilization of land near them.
The day began with a tour of the UBC farm with Andrew Rushmere. In his demonstration, Andrew emphasized the importance of integration across functions, disciplines, cultures, generations, and communities in the academic pursuit that is the farm. All ages partake in the challenge of seed to plate, drawing important connections between food, health, and the environment. UBC practices natural methods of farming—utilizing cover crops, lawn-mowing cows and chickens, mulching—and recognizes the importance of the aboriginal ancestors of the land. As diverse as the programs happening on site are the choices of cultivated species, such as the 75 varieties of apple present in their orchard. Ecological diversity is key in supporting the honeybee population, and thereby the crops that they pollinate, attempting to ensure sustainability with impending climate change.
Andrew received a B.A (Hons.) in International Development and Human Geography
from Queen’s University. He apprenticed in organic agriculture on a small-scale market
garden in Camrose, Alberta for two years, and worked on several other organic farms
before completing an M.A. in Ecological and Place-Based Education at SFU. He is currently
a caretaker and the Academic Coordinator at the UBC Farm/Centre for Sustainable
Food Systems, where he facilitates faculty and student teaching, learning, and research.
More information on volunteering with the farm can be found here:
More photos can be found here