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4 Lessons about Worms to Wiggle Along to

By Kat Vriesema-Magnuson, Experiential Learning Manager

As I write this, EL Lead Andrea (aka Snap) is leading a wormshop for our EcoWonders campers. What’s a wormshop, you ask? Well, It’s a workshop… about worms! Red Wriggler worms, in this case, which are about to be added to our new vermicomposting bin, but not before our campers have a chance to get to know them and learn many lessons from them.

Lesson one: All animals need a home.

Animals all need food, water, air, and shelter. For our Red Wrigglers, who are not native to this area, that means a blue plastic tote, filled with all the things worms love: dirt, and shredded paper to nest in, and just enough water to stay moist.

Lesson two: Rot rocks!

Our Red Wrigglers will be part of our waste management system. This type of worm is one of the best decomposers of plant matter out there, and we’re going to keep them fed with fruit and veggie scraps and weeds from the farm. As fungus and bacteria start to break those plants down, the little toothless worms will slurp it up like a smoothie. Thanks, decomposers for not leaving us neck deep in food scraps!

Lesson three: Everybody Poops.

Worm poop, or more formally, worm castings, is one of the best plant fertilizers out there. And even though it’s made of rotten banana peels and apple cores and slimy lettuce, and has gone all the way through a worm’s digestive system, its smells…. Totally fine! Like really good, rich soil. 

Lesson four: Worms are just like us (kinda).

They can see (light and dark), they can feel vibrations, they can smell delicious rotting food. They have a brain and a heart (ok, 5 of those) and they breathe air (through their skin). Contrary to popular myth, you can’t make two worms by cutting one in half, but they can regrow parts of their tail if it gets damaged. Most importantly, they need us to be gentle and caring with them, just like we need people to be gentle and caring with us.

We still have a few spaces left in our August camps at David Thompson in Vancouver and Suwa’lkh School in Coquitlam if you have a young worm-curious child in your life. Sliding scale fees are available, starting at $112.50 for a 3-day program or $185 for a full week. Visit freshroots.ca/camp to learn more and register.

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Hello from Norquay – Art in the Park

Reflections from the Sharing Garden

The signs in the Norquay Park Sharing Garden are up! As I mentioned in the last update, we’re so excited to see folks from around the neighbourhood take part in the humble harvest that our small garden in the middle of the park outpours for the community – definitely come by if you still haven’t checked it out.

It fills my tender heart to see the red, rosy cheeks of the raspberries smile back and lengthy arms of the beets and turnips stretching out across their bed when I go out for a morning watering session. This has become a highlight in my day as I begin to spend more time in the fieldhouse as more COVD-19 restrictions ease up. All so often, especially during this busy season for Fresh Roots, we can get tangled in the art of getting by. Like busy bees, we fly from site to site, pollinating the programs on our schoolyard farms, hoping to produce rich fruit within each camper or youth we have the pleasure of learning from. Moments like these, watering and harvesting, remind me to stop and take the time to celebrate what we have accomplished as a community and look ahead to what is to come.

There’s a lot to look forward to at Fresh Roots, including our Backyard Harvest Dinner with Friends in a few weeks, and you’re invited! I’m also hoping to provide updates to what you can expect in the garden to harvest next month, so stay tuned for that.

New FREE Family-friendly Drop-In Sessions!

Norquay has become the common ‘hive’ for many of our paths intersect, for both Fresh Roots staff and park goers. Perhaps you’ve wondered about our educational programs or wanted to find out more about what we’re all about. Introducing Fresh Roots’ newest addition to Norquay Park – Norquay Art in the Park!

Starting this Thursday, kids, families, and artists of all ages are welcomed to stop by our booth at Norquay Park by the playground for garden-focused arts and crafts straight from our Summer Camps! Led by Molly, one of our experiential learning experts from Camp Fresh Roots, get a taste of our educational schoolyard farms with a fun and creative environmentally-friendly activity that you can take home. This week, we will be making seed bombs!

For more information, follow along our posts on social media:

Norquay Art in the Park

Time: 10:45 AM to 12:45 PM

Where: Norquay Park (by the playground)

Admission: Free drop-in

Dates:

  • Thursday, July 29
  • Friday, August 6
  • Friday, August 13
  • Friday August 27
  • Friday, September 3
  • Friday September 10
  • Friday September 24

*COVID-19 precautions and practices will be followed to ensure the safety of all participants

Hope to see you there,

For the first Art in the Park!

Hello from Norquay,

 

Vivian

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FRESH ROOTS URBAN FARM SOCIETY CULTIVATES MEANINGFUL CONNECTIONS THROUGH ITS ANNUAL HARVEST DINNER

Enjoy Fresh Roots’ summer fundraising dinner on August 19 in your own backyard

Vancouver B.C., July 22, 2021—Growing schoolyard farms while growing community. Expanding on last year’s at-home fundraising event, Fresh Roots Urban Farm Society announces that this year’s Backyard Harvest Dinner with Friends will be held on August 19, 2021.
 
The 2021 Summer Harvest Boxes will be filled with everything you’ll need to plate a beautiful summertime meal in your own backyard and share it with friends. Fresh Roots has carefully curated the boxes to showcase the talents of fantastic new Vancouver food businesses. Your dinner will include fresh lovingly prepared dishes from the first cohort of Flavours of Hope’s Dream Cuisines, a pilot program supporting newcomer refugee women as they launch their food businesses in partnership with Coho Commissary. Ono Vancouver and Kula Kitchen have been instrumental in developing the menu for this year’s dinner, and Legends Haul and Organic Ocean are back to provide incredible meat and fish products in addition to other culinary delights.
 
“This year we wanted to partner with local food businesses in a deeper way, not only showcasing and celebrating their delicious offerings but finding opportunities to further support their specific endeavours,” explains Alexa Pitoulis, Executive Director of Fresh Roots. “The pandemic has been a challenging time for many businesses—your participation in the Backyard Harvest Dinner supports the work of Fresh Roots as well as many other local food entrepreneurs in our community. The best part is you get to taste all this goodness!”
 
This simple and delicious harvest meal requires minimal finishing and will be accompanied by lovely touches like flowers for the table, a selection of beverages, and thoughtfully crafted gifts created especially for the Harvest Dinner by the 2021 Sustainable Opportunities for Youth Leadership (SOYL) crew.
FreshRoots_BackyardHarvestDinner2021Video_SOYL_LeadHarveenSandhu_WithParticipants_Play 2
SOYL participants and lead, Harveen Sandhu at Vancouver Technical Secondary School, video supplied by Fresh Roots.
Funds generated by this highly anticipated annual event directly benefit Fresh Roots’ SOYL program, which empowers youth to connect with their community and with the food on their plate. SOYL teaches participants how to grow and sell food. Youth Crew members learn about every step of the process through hands-on involvement, from planting to harvesting to providing customer service at farmer’s markets. They develop valuable farming and entrepreneurial experience while also nurturing their self-confidence and ability to work effectively as a team.
 
Partners for the 2021 Backyard Harvest Dinner include: Vancity, Legends Haul, Organic Ocean, 33 Acres Brewing Co., Coho Commissary, Kula Kitchen, Ono, Susgrainable, Odd Society Spirits, Plenty Hard Kombucha, VanSuya, Tsawwassen Farm School, The Italian Cultural Centre, UBC Farm, and Flavours of Hope: Dream Cuisines’ inaugural cohort (Super Dishes, Egyptian Halal Cuisine, Mis Cazuelas Mexican Food, and Tinkerbake). Additional generous donors will be confirmed in the days to come.
 
Guests will pick up their boxes on August 18 at the Italian Cultural Centre (limited delivery is available throughout the Lower Mainland with the Orange Toque Delivery ‘ADD ON’ at check out) before coming together online on August 19 at 6 p.m. for a celebratory program featuring a virtual farm tour, music, and entertainment.
 
Backyard Harvest Dinner tickets are on sale now via Eventbrite, starting at $150 (plus taxes and service charges) for a dinner for two including beverage pairings.
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Fresh Roots Urban Farm Society
GOOD FOOD FOR ALL! Fresh Roots Urban Farm Society envisions a world where everyone has access to healthy food, land, and community. This non-profit organization works to cultivate engaging gardens and programs that catalyze healthy eating, ecological stewardship, and community celebration. Fresh Roots helps schools and school districts across Metro Vancouver grow community through growing food. Working with a variety of partners and clients, it utilizes school gardens to provide opportunities for inquiry-based and cross-curricular learning, volunteering, leadership development, and job skills training that animate school communities across the Lower Mainland.
 
Website: freshroots.ca
Facebook: @freshrootsfarms 
Instagram: @freshrootsfarms
 
Program Contact: 
Alexa Pitoulis Interim Executive Director, Fresh Roots 
778-764-0DIG (0344), ext. 101


Media Contacts: 
Caroline Manuel 
Communications and Engagement Manager, Fresh Roots 
778-764-0DIG (0344), ext. 108 
 
Katharine Manson 
Principal, Katharine Manson Communications 
604-318-9690
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10 Things I Learned from Students at Field Trips

By Andrea Lucy, Experiential Learning Program Lead  

I’ve been a big kid at Fresh Roots’ field trips this year. While my role with Fresh Roots is teaching students visiting our farms for field trips, the students have wowed and amazed me with what they know and experience! Here are a few of the many things local elementary students taught me this spring:

 

1. You’re never too old to do arts and crafts.

Young student sitting down cross legged on the grass with a hammer pounding leaf pigments onto a napkin.

With a little light pounding, the pigment from leaves or flowers transfers onto cloth to make a beautiful, nature-inspired design! Not to mention it smells great!

 

2. Bugs are amazing!
Student in blue mask and shirt holding a large red worm in their hand.

We’ve had so much fun looking up close at ladybugs, bees, worms and pillbugs. Students taught me wasps are accidental pollinators and worms are earth helpers!

 

3. Native plants are a world of wonder, for food, medicine, clothing, and tools.

There’s so much to learn about the native biodiversity of this land. We’ve been tasting some of these plants, including wild rose, learning about how they’re packed full of nutrients and vitamins. In autumn, this plant will grow rose hips. They are a fruit that has nearly 8x the amount of vitamin C compared to oranges!

 

4. Many hands make light work.

Bundles of purple sage flowers hanging on a clothes line against a grey wall.

Students helped harvest nearly 50 bundles of sage flowers for CSA boxes. They hung the flowers upside down to dry them for use in teas.

 

5. A little quiet time is relaxing and recharging.

Two students wearing masks have their heads bend over focusing on writing on clipboards. Behind them is a bed of tall garlic growing, a couple of trees, and the brick exterior of Vancouver Technical Secondary School

The farm offers a quiet break from the hustle and bustle of the city. Here, students are taking a quiet moment to imagine what the farm looked like in the past, present, and into the future. 

 

6. There is nothing more lush or plush than laying on a bed of clover

Person in orange shirt and black pants laying down in a field of clover

So lush and plush; perfect for making clover angels. Just mind the bees pollinating the flowers! 🐝

 

7. It doesn’t have to be complex to be fun.

Young student with pink glasses, black hair in a ponytail, and blue shirt crouched down by a garden bed filled with soil. In the kid's hand is a pillbug curled up in a small ball. The kid is smiling. In the soil is a trowel.

Often the most fun and educational activities were the ones with the fewest instructions. For instance, planting seeds and learning what they need to grow. Then, months later, identifying all the parts of that same now grown-up plant. Another favourite at Fresh Roots is digging and looking for creatures living in the soil. Can you spot the pillbug curled up in a ball?

 

8. Everything, and I mean EVERYTHING, in our world is connected together. 

Over the spring, we thought about the many complex connections in our food system and ecosystem. In the activity shown above, we learned how many of the vegetables we eat were domesticated from the same plants. We thought about how interconnected we, as humans, are to these plants, and to the soil, pollinators, water, and sun these plants rely on.

 

9. Spending time outside with nature supports your well-being.

Take a deep breath in and out. There’s nothing like blue skies over David Thompson Secondary, growing plants, and a bit of sun to relax.

 

10. Today’s children give me hope for tomorrow.

Five young students pictured on a sunny day kneeling over garden beds with a few small squash plants with yellow flowers.

The students we’ve met on the field trips are inspiring. They are caring, respectful, full of wonder, and recognize the importance of the natural world. They are conscientious and recognize the environment as life-giving.

 

If you also want to learn vicariously through children’s experiences, we have a few more spots open in Camp Fresh Roots for our last MidiCamp (August 30-September 1). After that, we’re looking forward to welcoming classes back on the farm for another year of learning and growing.

 

With gratitude,

Andrea

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Farmer’s Log, Seed Date July 1, 2021

July 1st. Wait, what? It’s J U L Y ? It’s July and the kale has exploded along with the weeds. I’m so thankful for our hard-working team (not just the farm workers!) and the handful of volunteers who have joined us in liberating our crops from the overwhelm of hungry, green-leaved neighbours. Fresh Roots has a few hungry neighbours of the human variety, too, which has made an impact on our yields. The unique pressures of Urban Farming continue to surface as we try our best to fulfil commitments to our CSA members, Markets, Programming, the Community Eats Program, Lunch Lab, and Donor Recipients such as South Vancouver Neighbourhood Food Hub. All of this is to say, I feel the theme of the past month has been about Community. 

Community

The Fresh Roots Community is blooming into the Summer Queen that she is. All of the youth hired under the Canada Summer Jobs contracts are trained up and ready to operate the Fresh Roots Summer Kingdom (aka Farm). By the second week of July, we’ll have SOYL (Sustainable Opportunities for Youth Leadership) participants growing, learning and leading at three sites, keen to pull weeds and distribute wood chips (I can’t wait to utilize those hands!) and harvest veggies for the market. 

Our Community Supported Agriculture Program is in its 5th week, now, getting our lovely greens and roots into the hands of thoughtful consumers who know their investment is supporting not only the operation of our farm, but also our programming to employ youth and teach kids about agriculture and themselves. It has been a pleasure to put the faces to the names on our CSA sheet and watch as our vegetable babies find their forever homes… in your mouths, I guess?

We attend two markets with two distinct but wonderful communities: Saturdays at Riley Park we connect with the market-goers, organizers and vendors that make up the incredible Vancouver Farmers Market; and on Wednesdays our market is hosted by the ever-generous folks at the Italian Cultural Centre. The ICC market community ‘feel’ is definitely different this season than last – yes, that means the pizza and wine are missing. That is because the ICC is putting their effort into supporting the community in another way: they are hosting an epic vaccination site, seeing an average of 1600 members of our community get vaccinated each day. So while I’m sad that we don’t get a slice of pizza, I’m happier still that we are overcoming this virus with the support of places like the ICC. 

Other amazing community experiences include ogling all the adorable dogs that are walked around the periphery of the farms, connecting with our curious neighbors, playing I-spy with neighbourhood kids, chatting with students who attend the schools where we farm, and staff sharing a lunch of Fresh Roots Salad Mix with that tasty yeast dressing we all love. 

I haven’t even touched the tip of the iceberg that is the support and connection happening between the coreteam members of Fresh Roots! It seriously takes so much teamwork to adorn our Lady Fresh Roots with the glory she deserves. It takes meetings — so. many. meetings — and so much planning, and phone calls, and notes and communication boards to make sure all the cogs are turning in time between each department. There is also a lot of: “who does what?” in this organization, as she evolves and transitions into something new, it seems like every moment. 

So, yeah. We get weedy, and stuff gets stolen, but the trade off for working in a supportive community is totally worth it.

-Farmer Camille