Will Valley is very familiar with our Land, Food and Community core series. Before he was hired as an Instructor in July, he spent five years working as a teaching assistant and, later, a sessional instructor for several of the courses.
The series, which integrates community engaged scholarship approaches, community-based experiential learning and community-based action research with flexible learning strategies, was also the focus of his PhD thesis in Integrated Land and Food Systems.
“I love the community based experiential learning components of these courses,” he said. “LFS really emphasizes undergrad learning experiences and engaging students with the community.”
Valley, a former elementary and high school science teacher, has a first-hand understanding of the value of community engagement; since 2009, he’s been the project coordinator for the Think&EatGreen@School project, a community-university research alliance that is investigating ways in which the Vancouver School Board can transition its food system towards sustainability.
“Think&EatGreen aligns with my interests in learning how to teach about food in the K-12 system more effectively,” he said, adding that the opportunity to work with Associate Professor Alejandro Rojas, the principal investigator of the project, is part of what drew him to do his PhD with our Faculty.
Valley’s desire to create a more sustainable food system also inspired him to establish Inner City Farms, a Vancouver-based urban farming company that grows food in residential spaces and distributes the produce to households, restaurants and community kitchens through a Community-Shared Agriculture (CSA) model.
“It seems like our culture is becoming more interested in food and food systems. A number of programs across North America are looking to emulate what and how we’ve been teaching through our core series for the past 15 years,” he said. “We’re ahead of the curve for sustainable food systems programs and it’s exciting to be part of that.”
Read more about Inner City Farms.