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VSB Student Captures SOYL Program

Learning about Food, Sustainability, and Leadership on Schoolyard Farms

by Nichole Bruce, SOYL Graduate

When I accepted the placement at SOYL this summer, I didn’t quite know what to expect. Some of my friends had done it the summer before and said it was a lot of hard work, but a lot of fun. I quickly came to learn that SOYL is more than just working on a farm all summer. To sum it up SOYL is a program for youth run in partnership by the UBC Faculty of Education’s Intergenerational Landed Learning Project, and Fresh Roots Urban Farm Society, a non-profit organization that runs two urban farms on high school grounds. SOYL is perfect for anyone who is interested in the food system, sustainability, and leadership. Over the course of the seven weeks we participated in numerous workshops, traveled around Vancouver on our weekly community days, and learned more about food and agriculture than I could’ve imagined. I decided to join the SOYL program because I was, and still am, interested in all the things I mentioned above, the food system, sustainability and leadership. I had my own vegetable garden at home and was curious about how food is grown on a commercial level and all the factors that affect the production. Since there is no course in school that teaches about agriculture or agronomy, I thought SOYL would be the perfect opportunity to learn more about the things I was so interested in.

 

Harvesting garlicEvery morning we (when I say ‘we’ I mean the 24 SOYL participants) would go to one of the schoolyard farms at either Vancouver Technical Secondary or David Thompson Secondary and work in the farms for the mornings and then participate in a workshop to help us build our leadership skills or prepare for market, where we sold all the produce we grew. Each day was a bit different in terms of what we were doing, which only made the program more fun. We were split into crews of six youth and would work together on whatever task we were assigned and one of the farmers – who have the coolest jobs in the world – would guide us and answer any questions we had. My favourite memory from this summer would definitely be the day we made blueberry jam. All of us – the facilitators, youth, and chefs, squished into the Van Tech kitchens on probably the hottest day of the summer and made over 150 jars of jam. It was so much fun, we had music playing and people were laughing and smiling and we were making delicious blueberry jam that we could soon sell to raise money for next year’s SOYL program.

Communal lunch on the farmMy summer with SOYL has taught me so many things and has shaped my future in ways I don’t quite know yet. Before SOYL, agriculture was something I was interested in but I didn’t know anyone else with the same interest, not many high school students go around saying “I really want to be a farmer when I grow up.” For me, the most valuable experience I had this summer was talking to all the farmers who work on the farms year-round and learning about how they got to where they are. There are so many programs more than general sciences and arts, and talking to people who had been a part of these programs really opened my mind to the possibilities I have once I graduate high school. In regards to life-long lessons I learned, the one that stands out to me the most is not taking food for granted. It’s so easy to not even give a thought to the people and industry that puts food on our plates every day. There is so much more that goes into getting food from farms than a truck driving it to the supermarket, and learning about the food system has given me a new appreciation for the food I eat. In more ways than I can count, SOYL has not only taught me about food but has also helped me become a better, more knowledgeable and more responsible person.

Weeding is tough work!

To read more online, click here.

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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

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May 2016 Newsletter

Fresh From Fresh Roots

Over the past two weeks, Fresh Roots has been invited to speak with teachersfunders and industry membersthought leaders and professors from across British Columbia to explore what we can do to support a sustainable food and education system that focuses on ensuring that everyone has access to healthy, good, and local food. Here are some of my takeaway moments:

1.  Teachers are incredible force for innovation. Check out what’s happening in Chilliwack or Delta, for new farms on school grounds.  We’re excited to support these projects as we can.

2.  The new BC curriculum creates so many opportunities for teachers and students to use experiential learning through the farms – let’s take that opportunity to explore math, science, literature through a lens of indigeneity and sustainability. We had an incredible field trip exploring these themes just this past month. Come and plant with us! 

3.  SOYL (our summer internship program) focuses on providing job skills training, food literacy, and self-confidence.  And it’s in high demand  We had twice the number of applications as we had spots for youth. We’re excited to help provide healthy food for all youth during the summer. Learn more here.

4.  Almost 1/3 of food produced globally is thrown away.  THAT’S A LOT – Even if just one-fourth of the food currently lost or wasted globally could be saved, it would be enough to feed 870 million hungry people in the world.  Learn more through the FAO.

5.  We grow healthy food – and, we help help support an urban connection with food and food systems to remind youth of the intimate connection we all have with land, food, and community. Come and eat with us and with rural farmers who are getting more food to the plate than we ever could.  Cheers to them.

6.  Singing feels good – so come and join Rhythm and Roots Choir for a show where the proceeds are going right back into Fresh Roots.  Get your tickets now.

With a fistful of sunshine,

Marc – feeling like a nice summer kale salad with fresh salmon, and crumbled feta with a mustard vinaigrette – Schutzbank

Chief Poet and Executive Director

 

Salad Rainbow

Farmer’s Log

Thanks to the incredible weather, fertile soil and a little elbow grease, the fields are producing the most beautiful greens and roots in such great abundance we can hardly keep up!  Thankfully, we have some extra help from our new-hires, Allie, our new Good Food Distribution Coordinator and Cody our Schoolyard Farm Worker. With these two on the team we’ll be growing and selling more food than ever before.

– Farmer Charlotte

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You’re invited – Farm to School BC’s Spring Celebration Event April 27th

Join us for Farm to School BC‘s Spring Celebration Event on Wednesday, April 27th, 2016 at Vancouver Technical Secondary School!

This interactive evening includes a chance to network, learn, eat, discuss, and be inspired by local Farm to School programs. This event will include youth from our VanTech Garden Club offering tours of our very own VanTech Schoolyard Market Garden, information on sourcing local food, and contributions from our local Environmental Health Office, Environmental Youth AllianceGrowing Chefs, and Society Promoting Environmental Conservation (SPEC)!

Furthermore, there will be delicious produce from Fresh Roots’ Schoolyard Market Gardens to contribute to a healthy and scrumptious dinner!

More details on the agenda can be found here.

Everyone is invited! Make sure to register for this free event by April 21st.

We look forward to seeing you there!

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Salad Boxes Are Coming.

It’s been a long winter. If I measure the nutritional gap in my diet between last Salad Box received, 2015 season, and First Salad Box to be received, 2016 season, it’s been a capital “W” Winter, in the Game-of-Thrones-ish sense of the word. Last summer and well into the fall, I was the amazed recipient of more vegetables than I could name or consume. I had no idea what the end of that bounty would do to me.

The cold months came, and I went to the grocery store–just like always–but instead of skipping the produce aisle, secure in the knowledge that I had more than enough socked away at home, I ventured in. The contents were disturbing. I scowled at the wilted greens, recoiled from the alarmingly flexible carrots.

Who grew these things? No one I know on a first name basis, that’s for sure. So, I abstained. I just couldn’t face it. There were weeks on end when my grocery shopping could most accurately be described as “beige”. The hike in food prices certainly didn’t help. They say the falling Canadian dollar has something to do with it, raising the cost of all those wintertime California imports. If ever there was a time to be thankful for locally grown produce, this is it.

Meanwhile, the seeds are germinating. This year, I’m sure I’ll be just as wide-eyed when I open my box as ever, but I’ll be twice as grateful. I’ll eat what’s in season. I’ll eat what’s local. I’ll preserve more, and plan some winter crops of my own, and next year won’t be quite as beige.

 

– Melissa

 

(Winter food-blues got you making Game of Thrones references too?  You can still sign up for a salad box!  Check out our three different options, here.)

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Roasted Beet Salad with Beet Greens and Feta

3 tablespoons olive oil
1-1/4 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1-2 cloves minced Fresh Roots garlic
3-4 Fresh Roots beets, with greens
1/2 cup water
1 tablespoons chopped drained capers
1/3 cup crumbled feta cheese
Salt and Pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 375°F. Whisk oil, vinegar and garlic in small bowl to blend. Season dressing generously with salt and pepper.

Cut green tops off beets; reserve tops. Arrange beets in single layer in a baking dish; add the water. Cover; bake until beets are tender when pierced with knife, about 1 hour 10 minutes. Peel beets while warm. Cut beets in half and slice thinly. Transfer to large bowl. Mix in capers and 1/4 cup dressing. Season with salt and pepper.

Cut stems off beet greens; discard stems. Wash greens. Transfer greens, with some water still clinging to leaves, to large pot. Stir over high heat until just wilted but still bright green, about 4 minutes. Drain greens; squeeze out excess moisture. Cool; chop coarsely.

Transfer greens to medium bowl. Toss with enough dressing to coat. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Arrange beets in center of platter. Surround with greens; sprinkle with feta. Drizzle with any remaining dressing.