Farmer’s Log, Start-Date: March 1st, 2021

Hello and welcome to the Farm Team’s very first blog post of 2021! My name is Camille and I’m the new Farm Manager for the Good Food program here at Fresh Roots. I come from a  Deaf Family (Deaf parents, hearing kids) of mostly white European settler descent. Growing up on a large piece of land in what’s now known as South Surrey, the Indigenous land of the Semiahmoo, Katzie, Kwikwetlem, Kwantlen, Qayqayt, and Tsawwassen First Nations, I was afforded the privilege of tending the soil and growing food with my family. This was where my passion for vegetables was ignited and it continued down paths of wildcrafting, permaculture, and urban farming to where I am now, here at Fresh Roots. 

 A few fun facts about me:

  • my first language is American Sign Language
  • I am obsessed with wild mushrooms
  • I have a Bachelor’s Degree in Critical Theory and Critical Studies in Sexuality. 

My combined education and experience leads to interests at the intersection of everything, like how the ‘local’ food movement can serve to simultaneously feed and exclude marginalized communities – and how breaking bread can bind us together. 

Similar to most Farmers in our region, February was a month of planning at Fresh Roots in addition to a whack of orientation for this noob to the organization. I had lots of introductions to people, programming, and technology that I never knew existed. I’ve been pouring over documents and making seed orders, planning compost deliveries, and scouring resumes to hire folks for our seasonally expanding  Farm Team. I am so excited to bring all of this planning to life. Just like a little garlic sprout, these ideas will transform into something lusciously green and delicious, and I can’t wait to share it with you. 

Looking forward, we’ve got lots of stuff germinating. I just received our first seed order from Johnny’s and even got a couple of seed trays started with the help of our Program Manager, Galen. Seeding is kind of like making perogies – put on some good music, set up the trays, get a flow going, and you’re in the zone. I like to imagine all the energy in the room going into every ‘plop’ of a seed. What were Galen and I talking about and how will those words be brought to life by these plants that will emerge? I don’t care if this seems hippy-dippy. It feels good to set the scene for intention and growth in a holistic way. Other things featured this month: an epic, steamy, slippery compost dump; approximately one million zoom meetings; a gigantic, online group interview for our summer staff; and… snow (what!?).  

In March you’ll hear more from me through social media and the second Monthly Farm Report, and by June CSA Veggie Box members will be reading my weekly fresh sheet updates. Soon enough, I hope you’ll all be eating the food the Farm Team has collaboratively created. Can you taste those sweet Hakurei Turnips, yet?

-Farmer Camille


Taking Science Outside Supported by NSERC!

Do you remember the first seed that you planted? The way that it sat in the palm of your hand until you tucked it in the soil? How about feeling like a proud plant parent when finally, its little green head groggily peaked up through the ground?

As scientists, we live for those little moments. In those moments the words in our textbooks germinate and come to life. No longer just a thought but a shared experience. Little moments like these breathe life into our scientific curiosity – to branch out from the first seed of knowledge that was first planted in us to reach beyond ourselves.

We at Fresh Roots want to recognize the generous contributions of the Natural Science and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC). It is through supporters like these that we are able to facilitate these little moments for teachers and students, where science learning leaps out of the pages and into nature, through our field trips, workshops, and SOYL (Sustainable Opportunities for Youth Leadership)! We aim to empower youth as citizen farmers and scientists by growing, cooking and managing schoolyard farms, to excite youth about agricultural and environmental sciences, to assist teachers in inspiring science learning through place-based learning.

Please share your memories of the first you remember being a part of something growing. We’d love to hear from you!

We acknowledge the support of the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC).
Nous remercions le Conseil de recherches en sciences naturelles et en génie du Canada (CRSNG) de son soutien.


“Did you eat yet?” A Lunar New Year Reflection

By Vivian Cheung, Fresh Roots Operations Coordinator

As a Canadian-born Chinese, I grew up learning to communicate through culturally diverse lenses. Not only did I get immersed in weekly Saturday morning Mandarin classes, but I also was exposed to the important language of food.

On both a technical and cultural level, Chinese is a language and a people of rich symbols and hidden meanings. A single character is more than just a phonetic letter, but has multiple layers of history and stories that get amplified as you bring more characters into the discourse. The same could be said about people’s interactions. The phrase “吃飯了嗎?” which loosely translates to “Did you eat yet?” is more than just a literal inquiry about dinner. If a parent asks this to their child, it implicitly displays a deep concern and readiness to care for their well-being – mostly commonly referred to as the Asian code for “I love you”.

As we ring in the new year, I reflect on how food plays a huge role in communicating how we in the Chinese community symbolically celebrate and how eating together speaks louder than our seemingly average table conversations. For instance, what we eat during new year takes on a persona of its own, often through our clever mastery of homophonic puns and visual storytelling:

  • Rice Cakes (年糕) sounds like ‘year high’ (年高), hoping for the recipient will have a greater, more prosperous year than the last, or for children to grow taller
  • Oranges/Tangerines (橙/桔) sounds like ‘to succeed/be lucky’ (成/吉) and the bright colour symbolizes gold to represent good fortune
  • Dumplings (饺子) sound like ‘exchange midnight’ (交子), so eating them is like saying ‘out with old and in with the new’; they also look like ancient Chinese currency, symbolizing wealth in the new year
  • Fish (魚) sounds like ‘extra/surplus’ (余), which can be combined to make phrases, such as wishing the new year will have more than they need (年年有余)
  • Noodles symbolize long life due to their long length and should not be cut

Most importantly, the act of coming together over food is the pinnacle of Chinese celebrations, with new years as the most important family dinner. Especially during times like these when gatherings are restricted, it is a reminder that we are in this together as a family, this past year and many to come. It is more than just a dinner; it is a declaration of love and care as we share and delight in each other’s company – the ultimate “Did you eat yet?”.

Regardless of who you are and where you come from, I invite you to feast on the Lunar New Year festivities this week, including the current exhibit at the Chinese Canadian Museum: 

More LNY online events to check out: 

From our families at Fresh Roots to yours, 新年快樂 (Happy New Year)!

恭喜發財 (Wishing you prosperity)!



What vegetable do you feel like today?

By Kristen McLester, Youth Program Facilitator

What vegetable do you feel like today? That’s the kind of question you’d hear at a Fresh Roots interview or group zoom call. This question provides a peek into what working with Fresh Roots is like. This past summer I had the opportunity to pursue a full-time job with Fresh Roots as a youth program facilitator. I was excited to become involved in the local food system but I had no idea just how rewarding and fulfilling my experience would be. I initially thought I would be teaching campers about agriculture but I feel like I learned just as much, if not more, from the campers and the community.

Prior to camp, I had the opportunity to explore different avenues Fresh Roots is involved in, such as the LunchLAB initiative, re-indigenizing the food system, and virtual learning opportunities. I also explored their farm sites in Vancouver and Coquitlam. I’ll never forget one sunny day in Coquitlam, working with the SOYL team to create new plant beds. In between digging and uncovering tarps, we snacked on some golden raspberries and oh my, they were some of the tastiest berries I’ve ever had. 

Fast forward to the first day of camp, and I was probably just as nervous as the kids were. The rest of the summer is almost a blur because it passed by so fast, but there are so many memories I hold. I’ll never forget the first time a camper found a worm, held a ladybug, picked their first carrot, or created their intricate bug hotel. There was a lot of teaching moments as well, like conflict resolution between fighting siblings or calming a frustrated child who just wanted to go home. There were a lot of firsts for me and the kids and so many things that we taught each other.

Outside of the day camp itself, there were opportunities to meet with the other Fresh Roots staff through group events such as a decolonize workshop or their annual long table dinner. Fresh Roots provided a safe place to take risks and explore new avenues. There were (and are) so many opportunities to get involved within the community and I am so grateful for the opportunity I’ve had to learn and grow in our local food system.

Oh, and today, I feel like kohlrabi!



A Big (really big!) Fresh Roots Announcement

A Big (really big!) Fresh Roots Announcement

It’s been ten years, that I’ve been here, helping Fresh Roots to grow
It’s hard work and seeds, meeting educational needs: 
A Good Food For All combo
We created a space with shovels and rakes, 
Where youth could build out their skills
Grow food for themselves, as well as their pals, 
Learning what’s possible with their strong wills.
And now it’s my turn, after all that I’ve learned, 
To start on a new adventure
Plotting and scheming, how more kids can be eating, 
Has been such an absolute pleasure
I’ll ride into the sunset, set off on a new quest, 
As Fresh Roots celebrates where it is now
Good Food For All, growing and cooking spring through fall, 
Huzzah! For all of this WOW!
      -Marc Schutzbank, Fresh Roots Founder

At the heart of our organization is the idea that youth can. They can develop and run farms; they can and should have access to Good Food; they can make their lives, and the lives of their communities better simply for being a part of it. For over a decade, Fresh Roots – with the support, encouragement and participation of our strong community, has been planting the seeds of Good Food for All.

Today we want to share with you the news that founder, Executive Director and Poet-in Chief, Marc Schutzbank has decided to pursue new adventures beyond Fresh Roots.

Marc has been an invaluable part of the Fresh Roots story – making Fresh Roots into the leader in the school food movement in Canada that it is today. Marc’s contributions to Fresh Roots are immeasurable. His legacy will forever be captured by the incredible milestones of the last 10 years:

🥕 First Schoolyard Farms in Canada – to now over 10 acres on three schoolyards that Fresh Roots is helping steward
🥕 Started as a volunteer-run organization, now $1M with over 100 staff and youth SOYL Crew
🥕 From serving 3 families in one backyard to serving now over 6000 youth annually.

Please take a moment to enjoy Marc’s ‘See you Soon’ message

We are excited about where we have been, and we look forward to the future. It is with great pleasure that we announce the appointment of Alexa Pitoulis as the Executive Director. No stranger to Fresh Roots, Alexa brought her young children (now teenagers) to the original schoolyard farm builds at Vancouver Technical Secondary and David Thompson Secondary and has recently served on the Fresh Roots’ Board. Alexa skillfully led the Fresh Roots team as the Interim Executive Director through pandemic challenges to an incredibly impactful year. We have no doubt her 20 years of leadership experience will nourish the soil for Fresh Roots to stretch and grow to new heights!

With gratitude,
Matt, Scott, Tracy, Heather, and Karn
Board of Directors, Fresh Roots



P.S. from Alexa
It is with sincere gratitude and sheer joy that I am stepping into the Executive Director role. A special thank you to Marc Schutzbank for all the support and knowledge sharing he has offered this past year. And to you – Thank YOU! One thing I have learned this past year is the incredible depth and heart of our community and what we can do together. If I have not yet had the pleasure of connecting with you, I look forward to a call, a walk, a farm visit, sharing a salad, or a conversation at the market – reach out anytime! or 778-764-0344 ext 101

“See You Soon” A Message From Marc Schutzbank

“See You Soon” 

It was ten years ago that I had the chance to see one of Fresh Roots’ first plants grow. It was a towering Jerusalem Artichoke – small golden sunflowers on top, and a tasty potato-ish tuber on the bottom. Standing tall in a schoolyard in East Vancouver, it would regrow itself each year, making the 8-foot journey from soil to sky. It inspired me to stand a little taller and strive a little longer. I was just a young kid – and Fresh Roots was also young – trying to figure out how to make this world a little better and what my – and its – role could and should be. 

And so we grew together – with many of you! Together we celebrated the joy of fresh food and the lessons learned through growing, eating, and observing: patience, teamwork, forbearance, and so much more. As a board member, volunteer, field hand, poet-in-chief and Executive Director at Fresh Roots, I’ve realized that we have always been bringing more than sunshine yellow flowers and fruits to schools. We have been cultivating joy, building and animating creative learning spaces, and instilling the firm belief that youth themselves have the power and capacity to make their lives better.

After ten years, and one-third of my life, I’m ready to spread my wings and take on a new adventure. I’ll be leaving Fresh Roots this winter, saying goodbye to Fresh Roots, this first child with Ilana Labow. I think that Fresh Roots is ready to leave the nest and ready for its next adventure. I too am ready to spread my wings and serve my community in a new and different way. 

At the same time, Fresh Roots is already off to an exciting new part of its journey. Alexa Pitoulis, long-time supporter and former board member, will be the new Executive Director. It’s been a pleasure working with Alexa over the past few years and I know that she will continue to lead the Fresh Roots community with joy and inspiration.  

Thank you to each and every one of you who have been part of my personal journey and have been and are a part of Good Food For All.  It’s incredible what happens when even a few hands get together and plant something larger than themselves – there’s nothing we cannot do.  Here’s to the next ten years of Good Food For All.  

With a fistful of sunshine, 


PS – Please do not hesitate to be in touch. You can reach me at


CSA Veggie Box Sales Are Now OPEN!!

TODAY is the day! CSA Veggie Box sales are now OPEN! We would love to see you join us as a member for the 2021 growing (and eating!) season. Questions about how our CSA program works? We’ve created a handy FAQ to help answer some commonly asked questions.

This year, we are offering a 20-week full-season share which runs from June to October, AND a brand new Good Food Market Credit Program which provides flexibility for those folks who prefer market-style shopping for fresh, local vegetables when and where they like. Click the buttons below for more information and learn how you can support Fresh Roots’ children and youth programs while enjoying ultra-local, season produce grown using organic practices!