The SOYL Program — Much more than simply farm work

What did you first think when you heard about the SOYL Program?

I first heard about it attending the VSB’s 2016 Sustainability Conference.

During the conference’s opportunities fair, Fresh Roots had a small booth in the very corner with a little orange poster. I think I nearly missed it, but fate would have me approaching the Fresh Roots booth while I was waiting for people to clear up around the, quite honestly, much more exciting-looking booth beside it.

There, I was greeted by a friendly girl who gave me the rundown of the program. As she spoke, I began to think: would I be willing to spend my entire summer working on a schoolyard farm? Performing all the laborious tasks needed to grow vegetables? Outside, in the hot summer heat?

Heck yeah I would.

You see, while most sixteen-year-olds would be turned off by the idea of working on a farm, I was in love with it. I started getting involved in environmentally-focused volunteer work in grade 9, and over time I ended up developing a huge passion for environmentalism. Before SOYL, I was an avid volunteer for nature day camps at the Surrey Nature Centre. I was also, at one point, part of something called the Salmon Habitat Restoration Program, which allowed me to spend my last summer removing invasive species and doing industrial education work around the city.

Growing and maintaining a garden was something I had absolutely no knowledge about at the time, and it’s because of Fresh Roots that I’ve been able to learn how to do that. Thank you Fresh Roots.

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Negative Food Stories: Opportunities for Relationship

Food is nourishment.  Food is connection.  

Good days, bad days, celebrations, mourning.  Food is there.  It can be a burden, an obligation met by busybody, overstressed workers, parents, caregivers.  It can be a relief, a comfort, a joy; a refuge to hide away, to spend all the time one’s heart desires to craft the shapes, and flavours, and undertones of a remembered but distant dish–of remembered people, places, experiences.  

And of new ones.

Food can be the poverty of an empty table.  It can be the extravagance of waste and excess.

Food can be dreaded.  It can be hoped for.

~~~~~

I attended a [food-]storytelling workshop yesterday.  Parts of the words above came from my scribbled thoughts to the free-write prompt: What does food mean to you?

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Food is fundamental and vital for life.  We need it (and we need to grow/gather/cultivate it) to survive, to live, to thrive.  Food can be a source of nourishment not only physically or biologically, but also for the soul.  Traditional foodways and meals can bring back good memories and warm fuzzy feelings.  We like to eat.

These things we know.  And often we hold them as universally applicable to all.  After all, everyone eats, right?

Enjoying a potluck lunch with the crew

Enjoying a potluck picnic lunch with the crew

Talking with a friend at the storytelling workshop about our personal stories of food and “food stories” in general, the topic emerged of Hey, wait a minute.  Not everyone has a positive relationship or association with food.  

Read More

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East Van Press Fest

Pluck, Crush, Press, and Ingest! It’s the 5th annual East Van Apple Press Fest! And it’s apple crushing that we’ll do to success!

Come one, come all to this FREE event whose only purpose is to bring people together to make apple cider. This is a BYOJ event, so please bring your own jar and cup for hot cider, so you can take some home.

Where: Vantech Secondary Schoolyard Market Garden (Map)

When: Sunday October 29, 12 – 4pm

RSVP: Facebook

We’ll help you learn about the full process of apple cider (that’s the same as apple juice, but unfiltered and no sugar added), and for you to help make your own apple cider.

Enjoy cider, local music, socializing, and did we mention cider!

 

Jam, jam, jam

Jam is delicious. What I’m saying is, I really like jam. I also really like blueberries. So what could be better than a nice jar of blueberry jam? Making blueberry jam, of course!  Canning the jars of Blueberry Honey Lavender Jam was an extremely fun and surprisingly tiring experience. We spent all day measuring, boiling, mixing, pouring, wiping, washing, and canning. Not to mention that there were constantly at least three pots of water boiling water and the sun was shining through the windows!

 

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Food Skills Workshops

In July, Fresh Roots had the pleasure of inviting our friends from Collingwood Neighbourhood House to host a food skills workshop in our kitchen at the Norquay Field House. Using local herbs from community gardens, we were able to make a delicious lemon-balm tea, herb butter and pesto. We had a great turn out, and it was so much fun seeing members of the community coming together to share Good Food.

It was so great, we’re going to do it again on Friday, August 25.  The workshop will be from 12pm- 2pm in the Norquay Field House Food Hub, and will involve using fruit from the Vancouver Fruit Tree Project to do some canning and/or jam making. Everyone is welcome to come and share Good Food! Please email david.cnhfood@gmail.com or info@freshroots.ca if you plan on attending so that we can ensure we bring enough fruit to go around!

 

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Norquay Park is Growing

ATTENTION NORQUAY NEIGHBOURHOOD:

The power of good food has once again bonded people together. Fresh Roots is excited to announce that we have teamed up with Together We Can to grow food in Norquay Park! This calls for a celebration- a FEAST of yummy, healthy food which will become ready for harvest in the summer. Attendees of this celebration will be: broccoli, fennel, herbs, rhubarb, strawberries and YOU! Also in attendance are some fruit tree saplings. Come stop by to watch these babies grow as they turn into beautiful flowering, fruit bearing trees.

Fresh Roots is a non-profit organization working with school communities towards Good Food For All: Everyone deserves access to healthy food, land and community. To do this, Fresh Roots cultivates engaging gardens and programs that catalyze healthy eating, ecological stewardship and community celebration. We currently have two schoolyard market gardens which grow food to be distributed to the community and sold at markets.

Fresh Roots believes in Good Food For All. As part of a community group partnership with Renfrew Collingwood Food Security Institute (RCFSI), Fresh Roots has agreed to support community food security initiatives in the Renfrew-Collingwood community. This awesome project at Norquay park will support increased agricultural land use while giving access to local food. It is so exciting to see our vision extend beyond schoolyard farms to the wider community.

Together We Can was founded in 1993 in Metro Vancouver and since has become one of Canada’s leading treatment centres for men. TWC’s mission is to educate and support men and families who struggle with the challenges of substance misuse and desire a new life in recovery. The charity recognizes that long-term recovery is most successful when people are provided health and wellness supports for physical, mental, emotional and spiritual healing.

This partnership empowers men to give back to the community by growing nutritious and delicious produce.  Anyone who is hungry or needs a snack is welcome to enjoy the food grown in the park. Another awesome part of this project is it is conveniently located by the treatment and community center, allowing opportunity to reorient these men back into the community! The ultimate goal of this program is to have cross pollination by planting flowers to encourage more bees- because beauty is in the eye of the bee-holder.

Together We Can do this with Fresh Roots to provide soul food for Norquay community! We’ll keep you updated for harvest news.

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at van tech 2016

Small Magic in Late Autumn

The Pineapple Express breezes through Vancouver, bringing a day full of sunshine and a tease of spring weather.

After spending lunch with the Aboriginal Youth Program at Van Tech, I was feeling very soft and charmed by the warm air. So I went outside to our Fresh Roots farms to just notice. To notice what activity, small or large, was taking place on the farm. The Kale was upright and loving the sunshine. The hoop houses looked secure. The remnants of garlic planting were visible.

Unseasonably warm, I was able to be in my t-shirt. Charlotte, our head farmer rolled up in the Fresh Roots truck, I was excited to see her because it meant I could help on the farm a little and also because I was hoping to have some company on such a warming day. And little did I know, my favourite task was the garden task of the afternoon- mulching the garlic beds.

From the truck, we unloaded free barrels of straw collected from Halloween houses (thank the spirits for craigslist!). Charlotte saw my excitement and let me have the honour of tucking the garlic babies into bed for the winter. A thick layer of straw blanketing over, in my opinion, one of the most rewarding plants. The warm golden sun illuminated the straw blanket. Charlotte and I looked at how far the straw stretched as a blanket over the garden beds, and visually estimated how many more Halloween houses we needed to contact. As we observed quietly, the aspen tree just south of the garden shed its leaves as the warm breeze blew in. A shower of amber confetti aspen leaves bumbled over the garden through the golden sun. The earth bringing us in for a warm embrace. We couldn’t help but laugh at the magic we were witnessing.

Taking time to be present, to receive the gifts the natural world is constantly offering us, to just feel the changes, can lead to pure magic.

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Learning Food Skills at Norquay Food Hub

The kitchen of the Norquay Park Food Hub was bustling with activity on the evening of Tuesday, August 16th as families from the Renfrew-Collingwood Food Security Institute worked together to make healthy and delicious snacks to share. Although the group whipped up several tasty treats including tuna wraps, no-bake energy balls, banana ice cream, and peanut butter-celery snacks, the homemade hummus really stole the show!

RCFSI is currently hosting the Farmers Market Nutrition Coupon Program. Participants came together in early July and expressed interest in picking up new recipes that would be good for their children’s lunch boxes. We used lettuce, apples, peppers, carrots, strawberries and garlic from the farmer’s market. The children were more than ready to peel, chop, and mix the ingredients together.

At the beginning of the workshop, families shared their experience in putting together healthy treats for their children after school. Some prefer celery and apples while others enjoy homemade sushi. As a result, it’s important for us to recognize that nutrition can be approached in so many ways by different families. We look forward to learning more about the wide variety of healthy snacks that can be made in different cultures!

– Cassandra Ly, Renfrew-Collingwood Food Security Institute

 
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You’re invited – Aug 19 Garden Build at Norquay Neighbourhood Food Hub

Get your gardening and snack on!

We are so excited to Grow Norquay’s Garden with our Norquay Neighbourhood Food Hub community partners Collingwood Renfrew Neighbourhood House and the Vancouver Fruit Tree Project.

As part of the Vines Arts Festival on Friday, August 19th, join us from 6-8 pm – learn how to grow Good Food at home and help us build a garden. So get your gardening gloves on, and get hungry – we’ll show you how to start some seeds and share a salad!

Location: North West corner of Norquay Park, 5050 Wales St, Vancouver