The UBC Farm

Farming brings to mind the beginnings of human settlements. Ancient, in other words. “Common”. Waking up at 4 am. Hard work. Dirt. Lots of it.  And if, like me, you studied history at any point in your life, lots of half-starved, ignorant peasants.

In my mind, there were only two kinds of farms: the traditional, subsistence farms, and industrial ones.

One of the best things UBC has done for me is to have the UBC Farm. That was my first experience of learning outside the classroom, here. I went to visit it last August as part of my ASSIST (now Jump Start) orientation. For anyone who has ever thought like me, or who just wants a new experience, I really encourage you to go to the Farm.

It’s not in the least bit dirty or foul-smelling, two of my initial fears. The only animals there are chickens and they are very well-behaved. Legend has it that the manager of the farm knows all the chickens by their birthdates. The chickens are there to remove grubs; they’re an organic solution to pest problems. The entire Farm is organic and it’s wonderfully green in the summer.

There is also a Mayan garden, tragically called “Mayans in Exile”. It’s run by two Mayans who left their home. They talked to us about their history and their garden. It’s a grievous story, and you come to admire them so much.

We had different “stations” when we visited and had people talk not just about the Farm, but also of politics and the environment and all the wider issues. The manager, in particular, seems to be on top of everything. My complete ignorance on these topics made me realise how completely naive I was to think that farming isn’t as “intelligent” as other white-collar jobs. The only thing I was right about is that it takes a lot of hard work to be a good farmer — but so does everything. I learned more by going to the Farm than anything I’d learned in “class” at the orientation. Even now, none of my classes draw across so many disciplines to talk about real-world problems and possible solutions as the staff at the Farm did.

The UBC Farm is the only one of its kind in the city of Vancouver. In the summer, there are fresh-produce markets. There are volunteer programmes available, and educational classes for the young. Some courses at UBC are designed to include the hands-on experience and work that you can only get from going to a farm. It is very much a student-driven initiative to maintain the valuable experiences you get from going there, and it’s also a part of the community.

Were the UBC Farm to disappear, there will really be no other opportunity to create a new one again, yet that’s the very real possibility right now. Basically the university is considering to have housing built there. I don’t even know if it’s the university building housing there, or if they’re planning on selling it to a redevelopment company. Although I would like to have housing, I’m not willing to sacrifice the Farm for it.

Before you decide to go along with having housing built there, or even before you decide to side with me and keep the Farm, find out more about it yourself. Visit their website. Get in contact with Friends of the Farm. Most of all, go there in person. Go without expectations. It’s winter; I haven’t seen it and I daresay it’s not as green and lush as the height of summer. Don’t listen to my raving or you might be disappointed. I come from a very non-farming community and the only farms I’d been to before really were the subsistence onces I talk about with so much distaste. Go for a field trip. It’s definitely something different to do on a weekday.

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