Earth Day 2023 – OISE Seed Library

watercolour earth on a purple background
Image by Elena Mozhvilo. Published March 23, 2020, Retrieved from Unsplash.

Happy Earth Day 2023 from the OISE Library!

This Earth Day, we bring attention to the importance of promoting sustainability, biodiversity, climate action, and justice through gardening, growing, and seed saving. We have recently refilled the OISE Library’s Seed Library with seeds for this 2023 growing season! The goal of the Seed Library is to build connections between University of Toronto students, researchers, faculty and staff members, and our environment. Please drop by the OISE Library to check out the Seed Library collection and pick up seeds to grow food, native plants, and flowers at home or in your community. 

The list below provides samples of resources such, ebooks, videos, podcasts, and articles, about how to contribute to climate action and sustainable education through gardening and growing with these seeds. Happy gardening!

Getting Started

Book: The garden classroom: hands-on activities in math, science, literacy, and art, by Cathy James (2015).

Book: Ripe for Change: Garden-Based Learning in Schools, by Jane Hirschi (2015) provides a big-picture overview of the school garden movement in K-8 education.

eBook: Agrobiodiversity, School Gardens and Healthy Diets Promoting Biodiversity, Food and Sustainable Nutrition, edited by Danny Hunter, Emilita Monville-Oro, Bessie Burgos, Carmen Nyhria Roel, Blesilda M. Calub, Julian Gonsalves, Nina Lauridsen (2020).

Article (PDF): Why Forest Gardening for Children? Swedish Forest Garden Educators’ Ideas, Purposes, and Experiences, by Ellen Almers, Per Askerlund and Sofia Kjellström (2018).

Native Plants and Pollinators


Article (online): Native Plants and Seeds, Oh My!, by Lauren Pauley, Kendra Carlson, and Michele Koomen Hollingsworth (2016).

Article (online): Planting a Native Pollinator Garden Impacts the Ecological Literacy of Undergraduate Students, by Carrie Wells, Melissa Hatley and Jane Walsh (2021).

Workshop series (Open Access): Indigenous Knowledge and Pollinator Gardens, by Kelly Maracle (2021). This series of eight workshops is for teaching children in Grade 6 about the “importance of biodiversity, local community and Indigenous knowledge by creating pollinator gardens in the local community” (pg. 3). The workshops are connected to the Ontario curriculum.

Books (PDF): Bees of Toronto: a guide to their remarkable world, by the City of Toronto (2016), and the Toronto Pollinator Protection Strategy, by the City of Toronto (2018).

Article (online): Learning about Culture and Sustainable Harvesting of Native Plants: Garden-Based Teaching Can Foster Appreciation of Indigenous Knowledge by Eileen Merritt, Alex Peterson, Stacy Evans and Sallie Marston (2021).


Podcast: What the f*** is biodiversity? Episode 9: Native bees with Dr. Sheila Colla, is about the important work of native bees in Canada and why they’re so critical for the environment and our food systems. Dr. Colla also shares suggestions about how we can help support these important pollinators.

Classroom Resources:

Lesson plan Elementary/Middle (PDF): Pollinator Power, by Glenda Clayton (2019) published at Resources for Rethinking.

Lesson plan Elementary (PDF): Monarch Butterfly, by Glenda Clayton (2021) published at Resources for Rethinking. 

Article and lesson plan High School (online): “Promoting Biodiversity Through Urban Greenspaces”, by Michelle Loh, from the September/October 2021 issue of The Science Teacher.

Lesson plan Elementary/Middle (PDF): Creating a Three Sisters Garden, by Kids Gardening Organization (2002), allows students to investigate the Indigenous tradition of planting beans, corn and squash together, know as the “Three Sisters”.

Food Justice and Urban Gardening


Article (online): Growing ‘good food’: urban gardens, culturally acceptable produce and food security, by Lucy Diekmann, Leslie Gray and Gregory Baker (2020).

Article (online): Cultivating Positive Youth Development, Critical Consciousness, and Authentic Care in Urban Environmental Education, by Jesse Delia and Marianne E Krasny (2018).

eBook: Urban Gardening as Politics, edited by Chiara Tornaghi and Chiara Certomà (2019).

Master of Arts Thesis, OISE (online): Teach Me About Your Garden: Indigenous Youth Food Sovereignty in Tkaronto, by Diane Andrea Hill (2021).

Watch and Listen:

Film (DVD): Growing Cities, 2014. From rooftop farmers to backyard beekeepers, Americans are growing food like never before. Growing Cities tells the inspiring stories of these intrepid urban farmers, innovators, and everyday city-dwellers who are challenging the way this country grows and distributes its food. From those growing food in backyards to make ends meet to educators teaching kids to eat healthier, urban farmers are harvesting a whole lot more than simply good food.

Film (streaming video): The Biggest Little Farm, 2018, follows a couple through their successes and failures as they attempt to develop a sustainable farm on 200 acres outside of Los Angeles, California. The film documents their successes and failures over the years as they work the desolate and difficult landscape.

Building Our Roots Podcast: Episode 4 – Sharing Seeds and Growing Community: Connection, Kin, and Culture. This podcast is a conversation about the Mississauga Youth Seed Library (MYSL). The project emerged from the Young Urban Growers program run by local environmental organization Ecosource, and seeks to support local food systems, build seed saving literacy. Hosted and edited by Emiko Newman and Megan Pham-Quan.

Film (streaming video): A Crack in the Pavement: Growing Dreams, by Jane Churchill & Gwynne Basen
(2000) from the National Film Board, is a two-part series that explores examples of children, teachers and parents across Canada making positive changes in their communities by working together to green their school grounds.

Please drop by the ground floor of the OISE Library to visit our seed library! For more help locating resources related to seed libraries, feel free to contact us!

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Ground Floor Display: Indigenous Literature

This month’s ground floor display at the OISE library celebrates Indigenous literature. You’ll find monographs about Indigenous literature, poetry anthologies, and works of non-fiction, science fiction, and more. Intended to showcase the variety of writings by Indigenous authors, from humorous sci-fi takes, inspirational non-fiction essays, to sombre poetry, there is something to be found for everyone. As always, all of these books are available so please feel free to come browse; Check out any that interest you!

Margery Fee, Literary Land Claims

Cover of Literary Land ClaimsLiterary Land Claims explores Indigenous literature and its connection to Land, analyzing how that connection can be used to support land claims. Fee examines notable figures such as Louis Riel and infamous fake Indigenous author Grey Owl, looking at their written works which she chose for their view or connection to land. Fee wants to investigate different identities, the portrayal of Indigenous peoples in Canadian literature, and how these perceptions about Indigenous people interact with the land. Speaking to Canadian literature, Fee argues “the land itself forms the national character, for which literature becomes the primary evidence” (6). Literary Land Claims demonstrates how storytelling is a potent decolonial force, and asks us to reimagine the Canadian nationalism seen in Canadian literature. In 2015, Literary Land Claims was a finalist for the ACQL Gabrielle Roy Prize for Literary Criticism.

Kim Anderson, A Recognition of Being: Reconstructing Native Womanhood

Based on Anderson’s graduate thesis for OISE, A Recognition of Being: Reconstructing NativeCover of A Recognition of Being Womanhood, explores womanhood, and how colonialism has impacted womanhood in Indigenous communities. Anderson explores the shift in power dynamic, how Indigenous women are represented today, and the impacts of the internalization of stereotypes and harmful perceptions. A Recognition of Being works through four stages of being toward self-love and of a healthy sense of self: resist, reclaim, construct, and act. Geared towards other Indigenous women, Anderson explores self-perception and identity through discussion with forty Indigenous women, as well as her own experience reclaiming and reconstructing her self-image as a Cree/Métis woman.

Drew Hayden Taylor, Take Us to Your Chief

Cover of Take us to your chiefTake Us to Your Chief by Drew Hayden Taylor is a humorous children’s science fiction story that explores the frontier of classic science fiction archetypes by blending them with stereotypical representations of Indigenous people in genre fiction. The result is a comedic play on sci-fi tropes from a Haudenosaunee perspective. Take Us to Your Chief  has nine stories, each playing with a different sci-fi trope from aliens, space travel, sentient computers, and first contact. Taylor draws contemporary parallels to Indigenous peoples, colonization, and representations of Indigenous people in popular fiction, then he turns them on their head. A great mix of social commentary with storytelling, particularly geared towards a younger audience.

Eldon Yellowhorn & Kathy Lowinger, What the Eagle Sees: Indigenous Stories of Rebellion
and Renewal

What the Eagle Sees: Indigenous Stories of Rebellion and Renewal is a children’s nonfiction work thatCover of What the Eagle Sees: Indigenous Stories of Rebellion and Renewal explores the varied responses to invasion in North America from a North American Indigenous perspective, across time periods. The story highlights different forms of resistance that took place in different communities. It emphasises the consistent renewal efforts common to those communities regardless of their different responses, across time and space and despite colonial efforts of assimilation and eradication. Yellowhorn and Lowinger facilitate an understanding of the complex array of experiences with colonialism, and they aim to increase understanding, empathy, and education in a younger audience. Included in the text are glosses that provide greater historical context, as well a list of terms and additional resources to support continued learning.

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Tracing the edges of archival gaps in Ontario education’s Black history  

(Written by Andrew Sandock)

A lone curriculum resource book entitled Black and White in North America. A thin chapter on Africville in Issues in Cultural Diversity. Another curriculum resource book… nevermind, that’s the same one as before. After several hours scouring deep into the OHEC catalogues and shelves for archival materials to feature for Black History Month, I come up disappointed. But am I surprised? Absolutely not.


Archives, and by extension our perspectives and overarching narratives of history, are constructed. How historical records are arranged, described, and kept is the result of the actionable choices of the archivist. Collections development and appraisal, the decision of what is saved (what is worth saving) is just that — a decision, whether conscious or unconscious. Decades of these decisions accrue and compound, leaving us with the patchwork of records we have today, ones which are often either overtly racist or else absent of any narrative situated outside settler colonial whiteness.

Archivists and archival researchers are no strangers to the stomach-churning language found in archives. Indeed, we can find ample evidence of racism and oppression in the Ontario education system nested in the shelves of the OHEC archives at OISE. Photos of future teachers merrily sporting blackface stretch across the pages of a 1964 teacher’s college yearbook. A 1915 Ministry of Education policy document announces the futility of educating students with disabilities. Essays neatly spelled out in cursive by a 6th grader in the year 1900 cheer on the colonizer wars in the Philippines and South Africa. As I carefully work with the rare materials tucked away in OISE’s serene little archive, passing through aisles of storybooks and children’s drawings, I am often jolted back into the reality of the racist and colonial structures that public education in this country was designed to serve.

Yet this only accounts for what is present in these archives. What about the records that are not here? What of the gaps and silences in our archives where the histories of marginalized peoples should be? When one goes looking for Black history in the OHEC, these gaps brazenly stare back at them.


I wander towards the history textbooks and pick up a volume entitled The Story of Canada printed in 1950, and turn through its 434 pages looking for a single mention of Black Canadians. Not one footnote touching on Black communities or histories. No discussion of the social movements and civil rights battles which were ongoing at the time of publication. Not a single mention of the enslavement of African people on the continent, even in the section about the American Civil War. I pick up a 1963 text entitled Notre Héritage Européen and put it right back down.


If you know where to look, you can find the edges and contours of these missing histories. If you compare the 1962 and 1965 renditions of Ontario’s Separate Schools Act, you’ll find all the language and legislation pertaining to racially segregated schools that is present in the former version missing from the latter. You won’t find any accountability or reasoning for these changes within the documents, or any mentions of the work of Leonard Braithwaite and countless Black activists who spurred the dismantling of racially segregated education in Ontario in 1964. We know this history exists, we see its outlines. Here, the archives’ silence becomes deafening. Archivist Dorothy Berry identifies this archival silence in her work, noting that it is not by any means a coincidence. Archival description which assumes neutral tonalities and minimal description serve to obscure Black histories that could otherwise be located in the gaps. In Berry’s view, descriptive focuses on “ofness,” for example description which hones in on creatorship and ownership, often supplants description of “aboutness,” or descriptions which induct the narratives, contexts, and material conditions which gave rise to the records in the first place. Creatorship is too often attributed to the author who put pen to paper, and not to the subject from whom knowledge is extracted, or whose work resulted in the existence of the record.

How, then, can university repositories commit to liberatory practices in their archival work? Archivist and anthropologist Jarrett Drake asks us to engage in “a constant self-reflection… of the ways in which the oppressor manifests itself within each of us” (278), to enact greater accountability in how we do our work. Institutional historical archives are often spaces where Black history, when at all visible, is constituted by instances of subjugation and oppression, and where Black achievement is relegated to the gaps. Whether it is through liberatory descriptive practices, reevaluated collections development policies, and how archivists facilitate and center the types of research happening at their institutions, the archivist must take on the task of dismantling the white supremacy scaffolding their repositories and to continually push this principle moving forward. For Drake, this is perhaps much more important than any shaky claim of ownership or “keeping” of Black historical records which already have a home (271).

Custodianship of Black history records is indeed central to the question of archival silence. As Professor Annette Henry notes, Black communities, organizations, and individuals have abundant motivation to resist entrusting their fonds and collections to institutional Canadian archives (94). For this reason, community archives have largely taken on the labor of creating repositories in which to keep historical materials. Henry therefore argues that it is the role of formal archives, including university archives, to “expand our ways of being in and working with communities” (94), to offer their spaces and resources to community archivists and to prioritize the connection of Black faculty, researchers, and students in our institutions to the community archives in which Black history lives and breathes. And, as Michelle Caswell observes, liberatory memory work is urgent. It demands immediate attention, and begs us to perpetually reimagine how and why archival institutions exist, as well as who they serve. Archives hold the incredible potential to spark liberatory research and to participate in the dissolution of white-supremacist structures. In order to do that, institutional archives must first account for the historical gaps found within, and work towards filling those gaps and ending archival silences in their future work.

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Social and Emotional Development: Children’s Literature Display

This month’s Children’s Learning Curriculum display on the third floor focuses on emotional well-being. Emotions can be confusing and difficult to navigate for young kids, and as educators we have the opportunity to facilitate this form of self-discovery. This display aims to connect primary school teachers with helpful resources to bring into their classrooms to support all kids on this journey. Below are a few examples from OISE’s Children’s Learning Curriculum collection that can support teachers in this work.

Cover art for Ruby Finds a WorryRuby Finds a Worry, by Tom Percival:

Authored and illustrated by Tom Percival, Ruby Finds a Worry is a children’s story that explores the feelings of anxiety. The story follows our main character, Ruby, who has her first encounter with a Worry. At first the Worry is small and manageable, but overtime the Worry grows until Ruby can no longer manage it on her own. This story is perceptive, and Percival beautifully illustrates a Worry, representing what anxiety can feel like. Ruby Finds a Worry won the Judy Newman Book Award in 2020 for providing a great opportunity for talking to children about their emotions, and strategies to manage them effectively, so that the emotions like the Worry, don’t become huge.

Cover art for Listening to My BodyListening to My Body, by Gabi Garcia, illustrated by Ying Hui Tan:

Listening to My Body by Gabi Garcia is an invitation to listeners to participate in body mindfulness through an engaging story and activities. Garcia guides the readers and listeners through the body, starting at the hands. They are encouraged to name the sensations, their feelings, and where they experience them in their body. Garcia first introduces the reader to physical sensations and body cues that we may have more familiarity with, such as hunger cues, then starts to explore how emotional cues manifest in the body, like anger or fear. This book aims to increase body awareness, the ability to self-regulate, and the ability to articulate that experience. Garcia includes a note for parents and teachers, including a list of physical sensations to help children articulate their emotional and physical experience.

Gabi Garcia is a licensed professional counselor who worked for 20 years as a school counselor serving K–12 children in Texas. She grew up in Mexico, and with Spanish as her first language, her stories are available in English and Spanish.

Cover Art for Even Superheroes Have Bad DaysEven Superheroes Have Bad Days, by Shelly Becker, illustrated by Eda Kaban:

Shelly Becker and Eda Kaban, in their 2018 Blue Spruce Award Nominee children’s story, Even Superheroes have Bad Days, introduce young readers to emotional self-regulation. Through a lyrically catchy story, we follow multiple Superheroes as they experience their bad days, and the urge to lash out. From anger, sadness, loneliness, or fear, this book explores how instead of outbursts, we can regulate our emotions and burn off steam in other ways. This book provides a fun way to engage children in the conversation of emotional regulation and well-being.

Cover Art for A Terrible Thing HappenedA Terrible Thing Happened, by Margaret M. Holmes, illustrated by Cary Pillo:

A serious children’s story, A Terrible Thing Happened, aims to help children talk about their experience with traumatic events. We follow our main character, Sherman Smith, as he articulates his emotional experience, and navigates how to handle something that he saw that upset him, and is negatively affecting his life. The story demonstrates how talking to someone about confusing emotions can help provide clarity. We see how for Sherman that it was incredibly important for him in his ability to work through his emotional experiences. The story includes an afterword for parents and caregivers with resources and suggestions for helping kids manage traumatic events.


If emotional well-being, or any of the books mentioned above are of interest to you, please come check out OISE’s display on the third floor. All the books are available to be checked out.

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Remembering the Canadian Farm Radio Forum 

(Written by Andrew Sandock)

Canadian Farm Forum Program (1953-1954)The Ontario Historical Education Collection (OHEC) at OISE Library houses eight special collections from private donors featuring materials related to fascinating moments in the history of Ontario education. One of these collections is the Canadian Farm Radio Forum collection, which contains dozens of administrative records, publicity items, photographs, and even scrapbooks pertaining to the development and implementation of the Farm Radio Forum program from 1941-1964. 

In 1935, the Canadian Association for Adult Education (CAAE) was founded with E.A. Corbett at its head. Corbett was a staunch nationalist who focused his efforts on citizenship education and rural education in a country which was rapidly urbanizing in the post-Depression era. The growing concern surrounding the lack of resources directed towards rural Canadians led to the initiation of the Canadian Farm Radio Forum — a mechanism for encouraging adult literacy and community engagement in local issues which harnessed the power and reach of public radio to reach audiences far and wide across disparate Canadian regions. 

The CAAE recruited the help of the Canadian Federation of Agriculture and CBC Radio to launch the program in 1941. Small Radio Forum “groups” were formed around localities; from November to March, neighbours would meet at a local residence weekly to tune in to the program which addressed agricultural needs and themes related to civic engagement. Groups would facilitate discussion amongst themselves to determine the greatest needs of their own communities, and would organize projects to promote community development. These projects ranged from organizing school bus routes through rural areas, to organizing vaccine drives for livestock. Groups would liaise and coordinate each other through national channels. At its peak in 1949, the Canadian Farm Radio Forum boasted over 1500 chapters wither over 21,000 members across the nation. 

Despite its suspension in 1965, the Canadian Farm Radio forum remains a stellar example of civic education by innovative means. Inspired by the Canadian initiative, UNESCO took the idea global, implementing similar projects in France, Ghana, and India. Today, Farm Radio International continues to implement similar programming throughout the world. 

This collection is a key to the study of adult education in Canada, serving as a reference point from which similar initiatives stemmed and grew in the decades since the founding of the CAAE. Crucially, it is a testament to the success of government institutions working in tandem with grassroots community organizations to help underserved populations prosper. It is also a compelling look into the world ofCanadian Farm Forum program detail which reads "Rural Services, who should pay?" With an image of a church education initiatives in the media, and the critical role multimedia technologies like radio and television can play in educational and community organizing processes. As technologies and their roles in society develop and change, it is worth thinking about the traces and trajectories of media and education, and the propensity for new public education programs through innovative means in the future. Perhaps the Canadian Farm Radio Forum can serve as a model for the expansion of education initiatives through public media.


OHEC archival materials are available and accessible for anyone to view. Book an appointment at the OHEC to explore the Canadian Farm Radio Forum collection and the other incredible special collections in our care. 

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