Summer institute offers groundbreaking ideas on agriculture education

BC Agriculture in the Classroom Foundation

July 31, 2013

Abbotsford, BC | Thirty teachers from across British Columbia and Canada gathered together last week for the Summer Institute, a university level course that explores incorporating agriculture into Kindergarten to grade 12 curricula.

The course is offered every July in collaboration with the University of British Columbia and the BC Agriculture in the Classroom Foundation. Teachers receive a wide variety of learning opportunities consisting of tours around the Fraser Valley and seminars that center around agriculture and food production.

This year the teachers toured farms on Sumas Prairie, visited BC Agriculture in the Classroom’s site at the Abbotsford Community Garden, and gained new culinary skills under the direction of Garibaldi Secondary’s Culinary Arts Instructor Chef Daniel Lesnes.

New to the course were instructors Joe Massie and Gurinder Cheema, both teachers with agricultural backgrounds. Joe Massie, Science Department Head at Sardis Secondary in Chilliwack, teaches Sustainable Resources 11 and 12, and Horticulture, which incorporates the school’s greenhouse. Gurinder Cheema from Abbotsford Middle School brought to the course the expertise she has gained as a teacher and as part of the family run greenhouse vegetable operation Cheema Farms.

“We wanted the teachers to re-connect with farming and the food story, and this course was a venue for me to share my knowledge and involve other educators in the conversation” said Cheema. “Many of the participants have given Joe and I some great feedback on the course, so I hope they all enjoyed it and will re-teach what they’ve learned. It was a wonderful learning experience for all present, and I would love to see more courses like this pop up in high schools and other universities.”

"We wanted the teachers to re-connect with farming and the food story."

Gurinder Cheema | Sardis Secondary, Chilliwack

Hosted by Maan Farms in Abbotsford, each day was jam packed with agriculture related activities and discussions ranging from starting a school garden to food production and farming in Canada.

“This course has been awesome,” said Kelli Wolfe-Enslow, an elementary teacher from Nova Scotia finishing up her Masters Degree in Education. “I really want to teach my students about where their food comes from, which can be done by showing them how to grow their own food and educating them on buying local.”This (the Summer Institute) has been a great way to gather knowledge on agriculture so I can pass it on to my students.

The Summer Institute is offered in collaboration with Professional Development & Community Engagement at UBC’s Faculty of Education,  the Department of Curriculum and Pedagogy, and the BC Agriculture in the Classroom Foundation. BC Agriculture in the Classroom (BCAITC) is a non-profit foundation working with educators through various programs to bring BC’s agriculture to their students. To learn more about BCAITC, please visit:


  • Developed by Curriculum & Pedagogy.
  • Delivered by Professional Development & Community Engagement.
  • Hosted by Maan Farms.


Story by Emma Sweeney