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Delta School District leases mini school farm to non-profit group

Fresh Roots to grow/sell produce on-site; donate part of harvest to local food security organizations

Jun. 28, 2021 4:44 p.m

 

The Delta School District has leased its dormant Farm Roots Mini School to a non-profit that will operate the farm and donate part of its harvest to local food security organizations.

In a press release issued Monday afternoon (June 28), the district announced it had leased the eight-acre Boundary Bay-area farm, located at 6570 1A Ave., to Fresh Roots, a Vancouver-based non-profit that cultivates engaging gardens and programs that encourage healthy eating, ecological stewardship and community celebration. The lease is set to run until Nov. 30, 2021.

“Fresh Roots is no stranger to our farm,” Paige Hansen, district vice-principle for academy and choice programs, said in a press release. “For several years we have worked in partnership, with the shared aim of stewarding schoolyard farms to provide meaningful learning opportunities for youth. For example, over the past three years, Fresh Roots has helped manage the farm during the summer by hosting a summer youth leadership program — Sustainable Opportunities for Youth Leadership (SOYL). We are delighted to be able to lease our farm to them.”

The district has been unable to operate its Farm Roots Mini School for the past two years due to the COVID-19 pandemic. According to the release, the district is using this pause in operations to “assess the best format to incorporate agricultural programming into the curriculum, with a focus on grades 7-9, to help keep elementary students’ interest in agriculture alive.”

Fresh Roots will continue to grow vegetables, fruit, herbs and flowers at the farm, which will be available to the community through the on-site farm stand and at local markets. As well, Fresh Roots will be making weekly donations during harvest months to local food security organizations.

“We are so excited and grateful to have this opportunity to manage the farm for the next few months,” Fresh Roots executive director Alexa Pitoulis said in a press release. “The local community has always been so welcoming. If anyone is interested to know more about our SOYL program or has other questions, I encourage them to call me at 778-764-0DIG (0344), ext. 101.”

Meantime, the district says it will continue to use the farm as an outdoor learning classroom for students and possibly for hosting community events once pandemic restrictions allow.

Delta School District leases mini school farm to non-profit group

 

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Make It SOW is BACK!

Over the past year, the need for and the power of our SOYL (Sustainable Opportunities for Youth Leadership) program has become so clear with critical opportunities for youth to connect with their peers and mentors in person severely limited for the past 14 plus months due to the ongoing pandemic.

This spring, we saw a much higher demand for the SOYL (Sustainable Opportunities for Youth Leadership) program in Vancouver alone. 130 youth applied for 25 spots in our unique SOYL program for 2021. We need extra support to pay for an increased cost for supplies and workshops this summer and to grow the program to meet the overwhelming demand for next year.

The Problem

  • In British Columbia, 1 in 6 kids lives in households experiencing food insecurity.
  • Canadians spend more time indoors than ever before—approximately 90% of each day—and most of that time is spent sitting in front of a screen.
  • B.C. youth are reporting an increase in mental health conditions, including anxiety disorders, depression, and PTSD. The COVID-19 pandemic has made these numbers even worse.
  • With so many opportunities and programs for young people cut or canceled this past year, we’ve become acutely aware of Fresh Roots’ unique position to fill the gap with much-needed time spent outside on the schoolyard farms we steward.

How You Can Help

 

  1. Sponsor an item (or two!) from our wishlist
  2. Register as an individual or a team to spread the word with your own sub-campaign
  3. Contribute a one-time donation with a custom amount
  4. Become a MONTHLY DONOR   and provide steady & predictable income to ensure we can consistently run our programming in addition to being able to plan ahead and grow our existing offerings.
  5. Share with your friends and family, tagging us @freshrootsfarms and using the hashtag #makeitsow

Help us GROW!

WHAT WE DO

Together, we:

  • Create and steward Schoolyard Farms
  • Facilitate outdoor experiential learning with teachers and students
  • Mentor youth through field trips and classes on the schoolyard farms, after school clubs and summer programming,
  • Host work experience opportunities for high school-aged youth and young adults
  • Connect community to growing food through our volunteer opportunities
  • Share food with the community —through food-access programs and to our neighbours and community through farmers markets and our CSA veggie box program
  • Provide support for school gardens and associated programming through summer support and teacher professional development
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2020 Impact Report

From Alexa, our Executive Director

There’s an eagle nest at the farm site that Fresh Roots stewards with Delta Farm Roots—a farming mini-school program located on the unceded and traditional territory of the Tsawwassen and Musqueam First Nations. Perched high above in its treetop nest, I wonder what the eagle observes of us. What does it see that we can’t—in how we go about working on the land, and how we navigate working with each other? 2020 was a year that forced new ways of being, but also encouraged new points of view.

At Fresh Roots, this has meant examining what it means for our work to be regenerative. Working from a regenerative approach means to be constantly re-assessing and mindfully evolving. We already know our work is more than just growing food—it’s engaging with and building our community. With that in mind, it’s important for us to learn and listen, to become better allies, and to be stronger and louder advocates for anti-racism and justice. As an organization, our goal is to develop those values and ways of being in our team and in the youth with whom we engage. We are all training to be our own observant eagles, looking out for ourselves and each other. We’re committed to noticing, addressing, and evolving systems that were created with colonial, racist and oppressive mindsets. 

At Fresh Roots, we’ve always known the richest learnings for kids and youth (self-confidence, self-awareness, sense of belonging) have come through the medium of growing, preparing and sharing food. Our path to becoming a regenerative organization reinforces the “roots” we have been nourishing. Every moment out on the schoolyard farms is precious. We are so excited for this growing season and invite you to join us!

Click on the image below to view the report!

 

 

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Hello from Norquay: Sharing is Caring

The concept of a food sharing garden was first introduced to me a few years ago, back when I was a Fresh Roots intern. I recall eating lunch in the fields with my team and talking about forests in Japan where anybody could come to pick the fruit and produce that grew in these designated areas. I remember us dreaming big – wondering if this was not only possible in the urban jungles of Vancouver, but whether this idea could be practically realized through Fresh Roots one day. We admittedly shared many musings and crazy ideas for the future of our little organization; after all, sharing is caring, and so, you can imagine my wide-eyed excitement as I first stood in the middle of Norquay Park, harvesting rhubarb in the Norquay Park Food Sharing Garden.

Perhaps you are like me and this is the first food sharing garden that you’ve been to. Our team has come up with 3 simple guidelines to get you started (available in other languages!):

  1. Find “PICK ME” signs to show what’s ready to eat
  2. Only walk on the pathways so plants don’t get hurt
  3. Take what you need AND leave some for others, too!

In addition to sharing food, we hope that the Norquay garden will be a place where we as a community can share ideas, just as I once did with the team and continue to do on our schoolyard farms. We tend the Norquay garden throughout the growing season, so come by and say hi! We’d love to hear about your plants and hear your stories as we partake in the feast of what it means to be a community.

And that’s it! You are now a sharing garden expert, so on behalf of the team, I invite you to visit the Norquay Park Food Sharing Garden. Currently, we have kohlrabi, raspberry leaves for tea, and my personal favourite – rhubarb (and more to come!)

In honour of National Strawberry Rhubarb Pie Day today on June 9th, I can’t wait to use my Norquay harvest in a very ap-PIE-tizing (here is the recipe for those that want to join me in the celebration: https://tasty.co/recipe/strawberry-rhubarb-pie). We look forward to seeing your tasty creations from the Norquay Garden as I look forward to showing you my pie and highlighting more plants that you can harvest in the next Norquay update. After all, sharing is caring.

“Pick me” – the garden,

Make strawberry rhubarb pie.

Hello from Norquay,

 

Vivian

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Community Comment: Delta continues to be a leader in farming, food education

Delta has been an innovator and leader in British Columbia in regard to educating young people about food and farming and will continue to do so

 By: Mike Schneider/Community Columnist, Delta Optimist

If you live in Boundary Bay or at the Southlands, chances are you have observed the work that has been done this spring at the Farm Roots field at Boundary Beach elementary school.

If you don’t live in the area, you should definitely make a point of checking it out. It is truly spectacular. A new hoop house has been installed, which will house our tomatoes, cucumbers and other goodies. Our super delicious Russian Red garlic field is maturing and several rows of Warba potatoes are just beginning to flower, which means a sure sign of summer will be ready for your dinner plate soon.

As usual, none of this would be possible without help from the close knit Delta farming community. The most recent assistance cane from our Southlands neighbour Seann Dory of Salt and Harrow farms who took time from his already busy schedule to bring his tractor over to till half of our field.

As most would know, the Farm Roots program was on hiatus this year partially due to the pandemic but things are shaping up to restart this important initiative soon.

In the meantime, Farm Roots has joined forces with Vancouver based Fresh Roots to manage the productive farm and the educational component via the “SOYL” program which will see some 20 odd young people working the field and gaining significant working knowledge of farming operations while being paid for their efforts.

It is undeniably important to engage young people in the food message. The food message has been taken for granted for far too long and it is time for parents, educators and the community at large to stress its importance.

Delta has been an innovator and leader in British Columbia in regard to educating young people about food and farming and will continue to do so.

You can support the ongoing effort to promote agri-literacy in our community by buying your garlic, potatoes and other farm fresh produce at the Farm Roots farm stand this summer.

Farm manager Jack Edgar is one of the nicest people you will ever meet and he will be happy to answer any questions about food and farming that you may have.

For my part, I have been enjoying watching the younger children gain an appreciation and understanding of where their food comes from and it has been, as usual, and absolute delight to watch the young farmers begin to eat food that they have been growing for the past few weeks. The look of wonder in the small faces as they harvest and eat food that they have grown themselves is immensely satisfying.

And to all the parents who have decided to grow their own at the request of their children, thank you all.

Mike Schneider is founder of Project Pickle and likes to write about growing, cooking and eating food.

Link to original article: https://www.delta-optimist.com/opinion/community-comment-delta-continues-to-be-a-leader-in-farming-food-education-3839780

 

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Farmer’s Log, Seed-date June 1, 2021

Nuts and Bolting

The nuts of farming, to me, translate to the “awe, nuts!” moments – like when you arrive one morning to your lovingly hand-reared broccoli transplants and find that they have all bolted prematurely. Riding the waves this spring – whether they were tropical hot or arctic cold – meant that a lot of our plantings behaved differently than expected. This early in the spring, when most of our planting spaces are spoken for, it’s hard to make up for failed crops without having a time machine. The effect for Fresh Roots is that we have adjusted our market start dates, and introduced a “soft-market” concept to our first week. 

That said, we did have many gorgeously productive days on site, with all our farm team recruited and in the process of all staff (22 new team members!) training over the past few Mondays. The Vancouver farm team transformed our greenhouse over the last 4 weeks from wild, gregarious, multi-shaped leaves bursting over every surface to a serene, warm oasis with tame baby head lettuces lined up in rows of green and purple. While seeding and rearing transplants is a lovely, crafty task, the prep for transplanting is everything in this process. 

Putting the Seedlings To Bed

When seedlings are ready, their bed has to be made. To start, we first have to uncover the beds that have been sleeping under silage tarps or lumber wrap all winter. If they were uncovered previously, we need to weed — sometimes for hours — before we can move on. Next, we measure and mark out each bed: 36 inches wide, with an 18 inch path. Then we wheelbarrow 3 loads of compost for every 45 foot bed, rake the compost out, and wheelhoe the bed to integrate the nutrition and fluff the mattress, so to speak. If a fluffy bed is a mattress, then consider row cover the sheets. For transplanted beds, the best way to save yourself future battles with weeds is to apply a sheet of landscape fabric to the prepared bed to prevent scattered, wild seeds from seeing the sun or getting irrigated. When we run out of fancy fabric, sometimes we create low-cost covers out of lumber wrap that we cut holes into with rickety scissors found at the bottom of cracked rubbermaid boxes. Transplants are popped into holes in these sheets, and eventually their plumage cascades over the surface, hiding the fact that their sheets are not Egyptian cotton, but rather, black plastic.  

Prepping our beds in this way not only prevents unwanted weed pressure, it also retains the nutritional quality of the soil, preventing nitrogen from being taken up by unplanned plants. Additionally, it prevents surface leaching, by blocking irrigation and rain outside of the holes we farmers have cut. In these ways, we are serving our soil as well as our crops, to minimize our nitrogen output, which also protects the environment.

We did lots of other cool stuff besides bed prep, including clover angels (who knew this was a thing?), building an epic tomato trellis, donating 14 totes of veggies to South Vancouver Neighbourhood House, and wrestling rhubarb – whose leaves I’m considering using in place of landscape fabric, maybe, to suppress weeds? Also makes a great hat during a thunderstorm. 

 

June will see our first CSA Pickup and Market Days – don’t miss them! 

 

We’ll be at the Italian Cultural Centre from 4-7 on Wednesdays starting June 2nd. We’re located at the southwest corner adjacent to the park-look for the white tents, orange signage, and basketball hoops!

AND

Vancouver Farmers Market at Riley Park from 10-2 on Saturdays starting June 12th.

 

-Farmer Camille