Thank you so much for your ongoing support. As we reflect on the past year, we’re proud of the community we are growing with you. We see so much hope for the future in the kids and youth we get to work with. Experiencing what is possible through engaging youth and the community in growing food on schoolyard farms is incredibly energizing.
The hope we see and feel is because YOU are part of the progress we are making. Fresh Roots is fortunate to be part of an interconnected and supportive community of individuals, businesses and organizations who are re-imagining food education and community-based learning. Through deepening our relationships with you all and with the land upon which we are privileged to work, we are learning and innovating. We’d like to share some highlights from the past year and some of the ways we engaged with kids, youth and the community:
- SOYL (Sustainable Opportunities for Youth Leadership) we welcomed 65 high school youth in Vancouver, Delta and Coquitlam for 6 weeks of contributing to farm work, learning from local knowledge keepers about the land upon which our programs take place, cooking and sharing meals with each other and the community and co-running our weekly farm markets.
- LunchLAB Community Eats was one of the biggest highlights of the 2021 season. Getting to cook and share food again after a pause last summer due to COVID-19 restrictions meant so much to everyone at Fresh Roots where harvesting food and preparing and sharing meals is a foundational part of our programming and an extra special treat for little and big kids alike. With our partners at Growing Chefs, we adapted our educational, in-school meal program, LunchLAB, to be included as part of the summer SOYL program. We hired 3 Chef Educators who worked with rotating cook teams of 5 SOYL youth two times per week to prepare lunch for 40 of their peers. Lucky Fresh Roots staff and community guests! Along with Growing Chefs, we were also able to restart our LunchLAB program at Total Education Secondary Program this fall, serving delicious and nutritious chef and student prepared meals to students and staff in school!
- Summer Camp and Experiential Learning programs engaged learners from grades pre-K through 12 in 11,000 hours of learning on the farms and in the community! We expanded to 9 weeks of summer camps doubling the number of kids from 125 to 286. We hosted field trips for over 60 classes from local elementary and secondary schools on the farms and brought our Farm 2 You workshop program to over 30 classes and day camp groups.
- Gatherings cautiously returned this fall and we were thrilled to support Vancouver Technical Secondary School in preparing food for both the Grade 8 Welcome Orientation Lunch (350 parents and students) and the Indigenous Family Gathering (100 community members). For both events, SOYL Alumni and youth volunteers pitched in to prepare and serve food to their community.
- Farms and Markets were bustling this 2021 season! We grew over 150 types of plants using organic practices which made their way into the community through 4 weekly markets in Vancouver, Coquitlam and Delta, 65 CSA Veggie Box shares, events and gatherings and donations to local neighbourhood houses.
Lastly, we’ll share a few last words from some of the folks who speak to our programs from their own lived experiences:
SOYL made me realize that whatever I end up doing needs to have some way of connecting it to the Earth and the land we are coming from because you can’t really accomplish any sort of justice without including ecosystems because everything is connected.
SOYL Youth 2021, Vancouver
Kudos to the Delta SOYL Team and all the SOYL staff! Cam has absolutely loved this experience. We so appreciate that this opportunity is available to him. He has become more confident, independent, met new friends and his anxiety has become way less! He has learned great responsibility and skills that will serve him well in the workforce. He also loves to cook and having exposure to a chef and vegan recipes has been awesome. This has been amazing for him as a person. Thank you to you and all of the leaders. Your hard work has really paid off!!!
Josie Zhan, Parent of Cameron SOYL 2021 Delta Mentor
With the state of the world today, specifically climate change, we need to find ways to be resourceful and knowledgeable of our food sources. Students need to learn how to treat our earth so that we may reap the rewards of its gifts. This program inspires students to learn and enjoy all aspects of where their food comes from and the delight of tasting it.
Gaye Dalla-Zanna, Grade 7 Teacher, Farm Observers Program
We’re closing out this year with ever-present natural disasters and crises dominating news threads. Messages tell us to be worried, scared, sad, and that we need to act now. And while there is no doubt urgent work is needed, Fresh Roots is growing the next generations to be best equipped to navigate the changes to come. We do this by supporting the self-determination of kids and youth to build lasting relationships with people, places, and food. We see them growing their confidence in discovering more about themselves and their role in the community.
So, thank you. Thank you for believing in Fresh Roots and our vision for Good Food For All. We are incredibly grateful for you, our community and your continued support.
Alexa, Executive Director
To DONATE and receive 2021 tax receipt visit: freshroots.ca/donate/