This April we’re excited to partner with local organizations Kiwassa Neighbourhood House and local artist Amanda Suutari to launch the social media campaign #EarthDaySeedingChange2021!
Starting April 1st, when you post your inspired actions to protect the planet you’ll be entered into our Earth Day draw to win locally- produced, planet-friendly prizes, including fine art prints, printed journals, along with other gifts donated by local businesses.
Our goal is to ignite our sense of collective power to make a difference during these times of isolation. #EarthdaySeedingChange2021 is about inspiring each other with all the creative ways we can care for the Earth. Actions are like planting seeds – they contain their own life force, and can take root and grow in places we might least expect.
How to participate:
- Take an inspired action between April 1st and Earth Day, April 22nd (see examples of actions below).
- Post a photo and caption of yourself taking the action on either our Facebook page or Instagram/Twitter with the hashtag #earthdayseedingchange2021 to enter a draw*.
- You’ll be able to check out the photo gallery of posts between April 1st and Earth Day by visiting this page:
- Randomly-selected winners will be announced on Earth Day (April 22nd).
- Prizes will include colourful, sustainably-printed art prints, journals, and postcards donated by local artist Amanda Suutari (printed by Hemlock Printers, one of the most progressive and sustainable print providers in North America), as well as random green-leaning goodies from local businesses (TBA).
- You get to feel awesome about taking action, feel inspired watching the gallery on this page fill up with images, and get some new ideas about how you can live a more Earth-friendly existence!
What kind of actions? Some examples:
- Picking up plastic from a beach or forest
- Planting pollinator wildflowers on your lawn or roadside (West Coast Seeds has some great pollinator mixes)
- Collecting coffee grounds from your local cafe to add to your compost
- Going plastic-free for a day (or longer!)
- Making a phone call or writing a letter to a local MP about an environmental concern such as old-growth logging
- Patching or altering an old garment to extend it’s life
- Making a donation to a local indigenous, environmental, or local food organization
- Download this list of actions for more ideas
Fine Art Prints: One of a selection of fine art prints, journals or hemp postcards by Amanda Suutari featuring these images:
Frog at Night
+ other earth-friendly gifts by local organizations (names TBA).
*for winners outside the Lower Mainland, shipping costs apply.
Tea Garden Build!
by Mia Fajeau, Youth Program Facilitator
Did you know that many of the plants and flowers that you might spot in your garden or around your neighbourhood, like Dandelion or Wild Chamomile (aka Pineapple Weed), can be steeped to make your very own teas? I’ve always enjoyed a warm cup of tea as a calming and cozy drink during rainy Vancouver winters, and really enjoy adding my own ingredients to try new flavours, soothe my stomach, or wind myself down after a big day! So, when asked to design a planter for the learning circle at the David Thompson farm, I was excited to create a space for students to discover different edible plants that they can use in their very own teas.
The idea was to create a space that can be used during camps and field trips for students to dig around in, do farm work, and to connect with the plants around them. The tea garden can be used as an educational tool to learn about the different edible parts of plants as well as to learn about and identify native plants. The planter design is called a keyhole planter, with a circular entrance at one end into the center. This shape provides easy access to the center of the garden, making it easier to plant, tend and harvest all of the plants.
We are really excited to grow plants and flowers that can be used for teas in this space because teas are a great way to experience plants’ different medicinal properties, and they just taste really yummy! Making tea on cold and rainy camp or field trip days is also a great way to help students warm-up and keep their energy high. Because so many different parts of the plant are used when making teas, a tea garden provides a great learning experience about the functions of different plant parts. It also provides an opportunity for students to get creative and make their own mixtures based on their personal taste preferences. Some of the plants that will be featured in this garden include chamomile, sage, fringecup, and pearly everlasting, the latter three of which are native to the region now known as British Columbia.
The tea garden is ready for planting – a big THANK YOU to the SOYL team who worked hard to lay down the bricks and fill the planter up with compost this past Spring Break!
Oh, March. Another month of prep before the busy season comes on. The idea is that the better we prepare, the smoother the tomato volcano will be… but I’m sure many-a-farmer will argue that there’s simply no way to prepare for a vegetable glut in the heat of summer.
There were a couple of things about my job that I fell in love with this month. First is the SOYL youth alumni who joined us for Spring Break:
- At Van Tech they tended to the sensory garden after amending our entire growing space.
- At David Thompson, they planted cold-hardy seeds in the learning beds, built a new bed for a ‘tea garden’ in the outdoor classroom, helped us seed in the greenhouse, and drilled together a frame for a bed in the courtyard.
- They also collected observational data on our overwintered chard to determine what might have led some plants to survive the cold while others died (conclusion: the healthier plants had more leaves to insulate them from the cold so they survived).
- SOYL hands distributed about 20 yards of compost over two sites, which is an incredible help for Fresh Roots farmers. Their ingenuity in observations and energy tackling the huge piles of compost left me inspired. So many great problem-solving skills were applied in the building projects, too. What a delight!
My other new love is Fresh Roots’ greenhouse. Jack, Fresh Roots Delta farm lead, and I spent many hours there this month, seeding for our Vancouver locations as well as our new farm project out in Delta, a partnership with Farm Roots. We listened to co-op radio (what an awesome mishmash of music and personalities) while we sprinkled seeds and love into every cell. Even on bitter cold days, the greenhouse is nice and cozy, especially nestled in the courtyard at David Thompson Secondary. In this little oasis, the resident hummingbird screams its electric Tarzan call atop the huge magnolia tree and there are a couple of ravens that visit, often circled by angry crows. Sometimes it’s hard to believe that this space is in the middle of the city.
As we mark the dubious 1 year anniversary of the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown we can’t help but celebrate the accomplishments made possible through our residency at the Norquay Field House. With the support of the Vancouver Parks Board and the Field House Project, we have supported food literacy and food access for kids, youth, and the community at Norquay and across Vancouver. In 2019 we served 17,928 nutritious meals and engaged with 6,354 kids and youth through 34,616 program hours. In 2020 we served 73,653 nutritious meals and supported 2,650 kids and youth through 20,055 program hours.
Some of the highlights from this past year are:
- Norquay Park Food Sharing Garden – We tend a sharing garden where we engage with community members throughout the growing season. We speak to people about plants, share stories and invite them to harvest vegetables on their own!
- Apple Cider Press Day – In 2020 we held this modified annual event with volunteers from the Bosa Foundation preparing and pressing 700 pounds of apples into 35 gallons of juice. We showed many community members how cider pressing works and gave out ginger gold apples generously donated by BC Tree Fruits to take home!
- SOYL Program – We host over 35 high school youth each year who learn how to grow, cook, and share food. Youth are referred to the program through social service providers and counselors and, through the program, build lifelong skills in confidence, friendship, and leadership. Learn more about SOYL (Sustainable Opportunities for Youth Leadership) here.
- Schoolyard Harvest Dinner *At Home Edition* – Fresh Roots annual fundraising dinner virtually broadcasted live from Norquay Field House. We hosted 190 virtual participants online with 35 staff and a cooking demo safely hosted by chefs in-person.
- And last but not least! Right before lockdown before we knew we wouldn’t be back in the field house for a while, Alexa Fresh Roots Executive Director, then Interim Executive Director got a chance to prepare Fresh Roots’ famous salad dressing for the first time! We hope to be back in the field house preparing and eating food, laughing, learning and enjoying time spent together with our community.
As I write this, Vancouver has snow on the ground, and where I’m staying right now in Tacoma, Washington we had snow yesterday. But spring is basically here, and if you look closely you can see it all around. I’ve been watching the leaf buds on the hydrangea outside my window swelling for a few weeks now, and just in the last day they’ve started to open up. The leaf buds on the Japanese maple and the neighbor’s plum tree are big enough to be visible from a distance. It’s not just the plants that are telling me spring is here. I’m very much not a morning person, but for the last few days I’ve been waking up before my alarm because there is light coming into my room before 7:00, and sunset isn’t until nearly 6:00 here these days.
We hear about connecting with nature, and how great that is for our physical and mental health, but how do you do that?
- The first, and arguably most important step, is just to notice. Look, feel, smell what’s around you. There is nowhere in the world that isn’t part of nature, so it doesn’t matter if you’re deep in the wilderness or at the top of a skyscraper. We’re all affected by the sun, wind, and rain; we all breathe the air around us.
- The second step is to remember, so you can compare what is happening over time. Writing down your thoughts and observations in a nature journal is one great way to do this. Because I’m terrible at remembering to remember, I have a journaling app that prompts me each evening to jot down what I remember about the day, like the crocuses I saw while walking the dog, or the hummingbird that flashed his magenta throat at me. I’ve also been taking pictures from my home office window and posting them on my social media daily-ish (very -ish). It’s been a great way for me to document visually and share with others. Low tech solutions like a paper journal, or just a daily “noticing nature” check in with a family member or friend are also great!
As you get into the habit of noticing, and remembering what you notice, you can cultivate your sense of curiosity and wonderment. Resist the urge to google everything – with a little patience, the world around you may just answer your questions for you, and sitting with mystery is a wonderful practice. Today, I’m wondering how long it will take for the hydrangea to fully leaf out, and if the plum will bloom before I head home to Vancouver. I’m also wondering what the hawk that was circling the neighborhood this morning was looking for, and if it found it, and where the little birds go when it gets really windy. Maybe I’ll find the answers, maybe I won’t, but they will keep me noticing to help find the answers!
-Kat, Experiential Learning Manager