Starting Farm School

I am a proud new UBC Farm practicum student! Having spent a good amount of time last summer as a volunteer, generally harvesting things like carrots, beets, chard, beans and garlic, I fell in love with that farm and the people there. I love the immediacy of getting my hands dirty, and the miracle of pulling food out of the ground never gets tired for me.

Having decided to pursue this dream of being a self-sufficient food producer, I started the practicum on March 9, 2013. The first day dawned bright and sunny and warm, which was perfect. I know there will be many cold, wet and miserable days to come, but at least it started with sun!

All farming starts with soil, and that was our first day focus. Soil is a combination of minerals, organic material, air and

UBC Farm, Summer 2012

UBC Farm, Summer 2012

water, and is alive with microorganisms constantly working away. Soil sequesters twice as much carbon as vegetation (learned from my current read, Diet for a Hot Planet), and thus is key in the fight against climate change.

Soil Texture

We learned about soil texture, something that you can’t change about your soil. Texture is the clay, sand and silt components of the soil, ranging from purely any one of those, to the variations of silty clay, sandy loam, and everything in between. By getting our hands dirty and feeling the soil, we tried to determine the texture of the soil.


The planting of kale and flower seedlings in week 1, and tomato seedlings in week 2 has got me thinking about my own seedlings. We have some Walla Walla onions sprouting up in our kitchen by the window, hopefully getting enough sun in our 1st flour, North-facing apartment. We also planted asparagus – yes, the crop that takes 3 years before you can actually harvest it to eat. Don’t ask.

Soil Tour

We did a walking tour in week 2 with Professor Emeritus Art Bomke, looking at the different soil variations on the farm, in the forested area as well as the cleared area. Learned a bit about the A horizon of soil – the top layer that is cultivated and can be amended. Looking at the deeper layers of rocky soil makes me appreciate how hard it would be to clear land like that!

Soil Novice

I admit, most of the soil information is over my head. The last science course I took was Chemestry 11 in high school. So learning the different minerals, nutrients and aspects of soil is a challenge! But a challenge is good, it’s exercising my brain in a new way.

I’m going to try to take more pictures as this goes on. For now, all I have are our asparagus seedlings!

Transplated asparagus to the rooftop, next to the garlic started in the fall.

Transplated asparagus to the rooftop, next to the garlic started in the fall.

Baby asparagus starting their lives in the kitchen

Baby asparagus starting their lives in the kitchen


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