The 2017 Islandwood Multicultural Environmental Education Conference

         

Our Garden Education class visiting “Green Plate Special” whose mission is to inspire and empower youth to experience food in new ways through gardening, cooking and eating together

This year my classmates and I were asked to speak at IslandWood’s 2017 Multicultural Environmental Education conference on the topic of gardens as sites of multicultural environmental learning.  Prior to the conference our class visited local garden education organizations that aim to make their programs culturally responsive and inclusive to youth in their area.  One such organization, “Green Plate Special,” partners with area classrooms to bring youth not only to the garden but also into the kitchen where they can share food together as a community.

Our goal for the Multicultural EE Conference was to discuss the many garden organizations involved in multicultural EE and to demonstrate the diversity of learning that can take place within a garden.  Gardens are places to bring youth together to learn about stewardship of the environment and their cultural communities.  Gardens act as a metaphor when we consider how important it is to take care of the plants that feed us and the people inhabit our communities.

Here’s a look at the lesson we adapted and brought to the conference: Communi-Tea (http://wp.me/p7RAVF-8Y)

Here I am demonstrating how to integrate community building into garden education at the 2017 Multi-Cultural EE Conference

When I demonstrated this lesson before our conference audience I asked the audience members to think of their individual strengths that they could add to the conference community.  What contributions are they perhaps making by showing up to the conference? What might their organization add to the discussion of multi-cultural education? The very act of adding herbs to the pitcher symbolized their contribution to the conference community.   As each participant added herbs to the pitcher of water, a few people spoke of how important gardens are to creating those connections to place for students.  Although the discussion was just beginning, I was felt very glad that I had been able to leave the audience with questions about community and how gardens are indeed places to have those conversations.

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