UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

All (en)tangled up: school gardens research in conversation with our human and non-human companions Liou, Yu Chyi David


This thesis is about listening to the “unacknowledged 'stories' present in all objects that surround us” (Knoespel, 1991, p. 109). It is about listening to the voices of the garden – the academics, children, teachers, parents – and “Hey! Don’t forget about rocks!” (as well as other non-human and more-than-human beings). It is about embracing these voices and the conversations that might crop up between them, however discomforting, encouraging, self-questioning, and world-collapsing they may be. Through cacophonic back-and-forths between these voices, I come across an accidental method/ology (Cole, 2017) for researching school gardens. One that embraces, that becomes through, Aaccidental stumblings and stutterings, unexpected encounters with odd characters, tinkering here and playing there, these are the onto-epistemological tendencies of such a method/ology. And in being so, it becomes a way of rejecting academic preferences for anthropocentric and Eurowestern understandings (Martusewicz, Edmunson & Lupinacci, 2011). A methodology that is concerned not with how we as humans can benefit from the garden but how we are part of it, inextricably – if not accidentally – entangled within a messy “web of community obligations” (Apffel-Marglin, 2011, p. 37). A methodology that honours gardening – and working in a school garden – as co-journeying alongside our human, non-human, and more-than-human companions. What might such a co-journeying look, smell, taste, feel, sound like? What knowledges might it uncover? What conversations might we stumble upon? I present here a conceptual work; a “narrative experiment” (Gough, 2010). The characters are awkward and contentious – informed by narrative theory, agential realism, Indigenous knowledge systems, ecocriticism, poststructuralism, posthumanism. The gathering place is the garden, both the physical garden that we tend to with our hands and hearts and the garden within, our “ecology of mind” (Bateson, 1987), wherein we sow and harvest our fruits of knowledge. The medium is a story, a children’s story. A fun one, an imaginative one. And the plot is an exciting co-journeying, from the well-mapped above-ground garden into the unfamiliar below-ground garden. And with such a shift in positioning comes a shift in optics, to reconfigure those that we research not as researched-objects but as our co-researchers.

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