Newsletter for the Indigenous Health Garden of the Indigenous Research
Partnerships Groups, Faculty of Land and Food Systems, UBC
The Indigenous Health Garden Newsletter
August 27th 2014

In this newsletter:

  • Highlights from late August

  • Final reflections from Garden intern Erica

  • Upcoming workshops, volunteer opportunities and dates

Late summer brings us the reminder of cycles of growth in the garden: cucumber plants full with fruit, medicine plants flowering, and seed heads developing on our fennel and grandfather root plants. Already the calendula and chamomile plants have dropped many seeds into the soil where new life will grow next season, nourishing pollinators and humans alike.

The past few weeks have brought two different sessions into the garden exploring the use of plants for tea: the tea harvesting workshop brought community members and students together to pick plants for tea blending in September with the Medicine Collective, and youth from UBC Farm's FarmWonders summer camp harvested plants and enjoyed a fresh garden tea in the beautiful yurt. Community members from the UBC Learning Exchange program, who had begun a skin salve last month, joined the Medicine Collective to finish the process and take their medicines home. It was a joy to have their laughter and enthusiasm while working with the medicine!

Having said our goodbyes to one of the UBC student Garden interns, Danette Jubinville, we are now preparing for our last few days with intern Erica Baker and are wishing her an enriching experience in her graduate studies! Read on for highlights from the garden over the past few weeks, final reflections from Erica, and opportunities to get involved.

Late August in the garden


A volunteer admires the boquet of tobacco blossoms she trimmed from the plants to encourage them to put their energy into their leaves; a bumblebee visits an echinacea flower; a cinderella pumpkin planted by CRUW youth; community members from the UBC Learning Exchange put labels on the jars of skin salve they finished making.

Final reflections from Garden intern Erica Baker

A reason why I wanted to become an intern was that I wanted to feel personally challenged by the experience of working in the Garden. I wanted to be pushed outside my comfort zone into a place of meaningful learning and engagement with the land. I had no prior knowledge about plants and food as medicine, or the basics required to decolonize my own diet and healing practices, and I knew this was something that was lacking in my life. I grew up eating frozen and processed foods, unaware of what a diet of local and fresh foods would be. I could sense that something was missing and this internship was a way of exploring who I could be.
As my internship with the Garden came to a close, I could see the transformation that happened to me. I could walk around the garden and describe plants to volunteers and community members, letting them know what the plants are good for and how we use them in our initiatives. I was familiar with how all plants have at least 12 different uses and how many of them look like the thing they are meant to heal for (like a lung-shaped leaf being good for your lungs). I understood good seed planting principles and how to help a plant reach its full potential in an organic environment. The list goes on. No longer was I a person who knew about frozen foods and big box grocery stores; I was then a person who knew more about how to listen to my own body and respond to its needs with things from the land around me.
That listening to my own body now comes in many forms. One time, a bee stung me at the end of a tea-harvesting workshop with the Medicine Collective. I knew to get chewed up plantain and apply it to my bee string to relieve the pain. That was one of the more exciting times I could apply my knowledge from the Garden. Other times I have known what to do to make myself a healthier and happier person just by things my fellow gardeners would share with me, such as reminding me that you are what you eat. This reminder came one day as someone mentioned they should eat a certain kind of plant (one that many people would call a weed) because it was so strong, and if they ate it they would be strong too. All of these lessons came while we were working in the garden together, which became a generous classroom for all of us. Because of this internship, I now feel more connecting to the environment around me and I feel less like something is missing in my life.
Thank you, Hannah and the Garden community for a wonderful experience to be a part of.

Upcoming workshops and volunteer opportunities
  • Wednesday August 27th: Feast Bowl community meal at the UBC Longhouse
  • Wednesday September 2rd, 9:30AM-12:30PM: Garden work day
  • Tuesday September 9th, 9;30AM-12:30PM: Garden work day
  • Thursday September 18th, 1:30-4:30PM: Garden work day
  • Friday, September 19th, 1:00-4:00PM: Tea Making workshop - FULL, e-mail to join waiting list
  • Tuesday September 23rd, 9:30AM-12:30PM: Garden work day
  • Wednesday September 24th: Feast Bowl community meal at the UBC Longhouse
  • Friday, October 10th, 1:00-4:00PM: Tobacco Pipe Mix Making workshop - FULL, e-mail to join waiting list
  • Wednesday October 29th: Feast Bowl community meal at the UBC Longhouse
  • Wednesday November 19th: Feast Bowl community meal at the UBC Longhouse
  • Wednesday December 18th: Feast Bowl community meal at the UBC Longhouse
How to volunteer for garden work days: we work in the garden rain or shine, so come dressed for the weather. We have extra rain boots, gardening tools, and gloves to share. Bring a snack and water bottle - bring friends and family (of any age) too! No experience necessary. You will find us in the Indigenous Health Garden at the UBC Farm. The most up-to-date directions to the UBC Farm can be found here. Once at the Farm, you can follow the "Aboriginal Health Gardens" signs to find our garden here.

How to volunteer for the Feast Bowl: join us at the UBC First Nations Longhouse (1985 West Mall) at 10:00AM to help us harvest, 11:00AM in the kitchen to help us cook, or 12:30PM in Sty-Wet-Tan hall to eat lunch with us. Extra help from any age or skill level is always appreciated, especially in the kitchen. If you can only join us for lunch, we encourage you to come anyway and we look forward to sharing a delicious meal with you!
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Indigenous Research Partnerships Group
UBC Faculty of Land and Food Systems
2357 Main Mall Vancouver, B.C. Canada
V6T 1Z4
Phone: (604) 822-5092
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