Transplanted Grad Teaches Urban Gardening
As a “come from away,” David Ward now lives in McCallum, an outport of fewer than 100 people on Newfoundland’s southern coast. There’s no road in or out. The closest centre is Hermitage, a relative metropolis at about 500 people that lies on a peninsula about 90 minutes away by ferry.
From his 700-square-foot house, Ward can see whales sounding in the Atlantic Ocean and bald eagles soaring over the granite cliffs rising 1,000 feet from the surf. Outside his door, so little topsoil stretches over the rock that he has to grow his vegetables in containers.
Who better to teach a U of G course in city gardens?
Formally, the distance education course is called “Ecology of Gardens and Landscapes in an Urban Environment.” Offered through the Office of Open Learning, it’s an elective in certificate programs in sustainable urban agriculture and horticulture. The students and their instructor – a transplanted U of G grad and teacher – are linked online.
Having moved from Ontario in 2009, course instructor Ward is still learning to garden on that Newfoundland granite. He’s growing native fir trees, getting rid of a lawn and tending those container vegetables. “My gardening challenges include keeping gulls out of my root crops.”
Ward completed a horticulture diploma in the Ontario Agricultural College in 1984. After working as an arborist in hometown Kitchener, he helped run the horticulture program offered by the forerunner of Open Learning for three years.
For most of his career, he’s been a teacher, including stints at Humber College and back in Guelph’s diploma program. He taught urban ecology at Fleming College’s campus in Lindsay, Ont., for 12 years.
Ward’s Guelph contact is Stephen Fleischauer, program development manager in horticulture, landscaping and turf programs in the Office of Open Learning.
Speaking of his longtime colleague, Fleischauer says, “He’s passionate about the landscape. We’re looking at the landscape to create a sense of community. How do we bring people together in an esthetically pleasing, sustainable landscape?
“That’s what we’re trying to do with these programs,” even if the instructor now hails from a tiny outport on the Atlantic.
Story by Andrew Vowles