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IT’S THYME for Climate Resilience!

✨REASON #10 to donate to Fresh Roots this giving season: Climate Resilience!

DONATE HERE: https://freshroots.ca/its-thyme-year-end-fundraiser/

Introduction

What is the recipe to build the sustainable, inclusive, resilient communities of the future? 

We can’t just tell the next generation how to be agents of change in the face of a bleak climate crisis future. They need to see, feel and experience what is possible. And they need the confidence and capabilities to know they can build it. I am truly humbled by the learning and growth I see each season in the kids and youth who participate in Fresh Roots programs and join our summer team. 

We asked a few of our summer employees, who were also SOYL program alumni, if they’d want to share a bit about their personal journeys. We were so moved by all they had to say. Please take a moment to watch. They give me so much hope.

“Fresh Roots taps into hidden potential of each person. In school systems, a lot of people like me who are looked at as the quiet kid, get overlooked and be like they’re just anxious, they’re just shy. When really it’s like they’re not given the right environment to actually grow and become the person they could be. This program is really good for those kids, like me. I needed it.” – Kira, SOYL Alumni & Camp Staff Team

– Alexa, Executive Director at Fresh Roots

Donate Today!

We are 84% of our way to our goal of raising $40,000 to get kids and youth learning and growing on schoolyard farms! Can you help us get there?

🌍 6 people donating $100 supports a stipend for one 6-week summer SOYL youth participant to learn and grow.

🌎 10 people donating $30 allows one family in financial need to send their child to camp

Fresh Roots Stories: SOYL Alumni VIDEO

Meet a few of the amazing SOYL alumni, now staff, as they share their personal journeys and how Fresh Roots has made a lasting impact. From their own transformative experiences to the meaningful connections with kids, youth, and the wider community they support – get ready to dive into the inspiring stories that drive their commitment and passion for positive change.

Special thanks to www.upperstoryfilms.com

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Back to Our Roots: Malcolm

By Vivian Cheung, Operations & Digital Engagement Specialist

As you may know, this year is a time to reflect and return back to our roots by bringing folks throughout these ten growing seasons who have helped shaped Fresh Roots to be where we are today, as staff, teachers, participants, while also taking the chance to celebrate who they are today through our 10th Anniversary blog interview series called ‘Back to Our Roots’. We’re on a journey to reconnect with these rad members in our Fresh Roots community and bring us all on a blast from the past.

In 2016, Fresh Roots partnered with Suwa’lkh School to develop what is now the Suwa’lkh Medicine Garden, Healing Forest, and Orchard. One of the key leads in making this happen was Malcolm Key, the Aboriginal Youth Program Coordinator at Suwa’lkh at the time. Currently, Malcolm is an Indigenous Education Enhancement Worker with the Vancouver School Board, working to design, develop, and implement outdoor educational programs through an Indigenous lens, which includes working with the LunchLAB team at Norquay Elementary. For our next interview, Jaimie, our Suwa’lkh Farm and Education Lead, sat down with Malcolm to discuss about the origins of Suwa’lkh and Fresh Roots partnership, how the site has changed but continues to impact Indigenous youth, a thoughtful exchange on stewardship in the past, the present, and looking forward to the future.


Malcolm Key with students in the Suwa’lkh Outdoor Classroom

I have a few questions that they would like me to ask for the 10th anniversary and how you’ve started at Suwa’lkh. The first one is not related to anything Suwa’lkh at all – what vegetable do you feel like today? 

I feel like a beet, as in the “beat” must go! 

How did you learn about and get connected with Fresh Roots? 

That’s a good question. It takes me back to when we started the process, the idea about building out an Indigenous garden… The Principal of Indigenous Education at the time there saw that my background was in outdoor, adventure-based learning and so we matched up my skill set to facilitate an outdoor education program…

One piece of that work was a partnership with Outward Bound Canada to facilitate outdoor adventure-based learning, but not all kids want to go off into the mountains, onto the rivers, or into the ocean for those types of adventures…This was where the idea about creating the Suwa’lkh Medicine Garden started – let’s make opportunities to connect to the land as accessible as possible and let’s start thinking about building out a garden that would provide opportunities for youth to learn how to grow food, learn how to utilize flora and fauna for their medicinal, spiritual and nutritional purposes.

I started researching around and started seeing that there was something going on with the Vancouver School District, with an organization called Fresh Roots. …We went to Van Tech to see what this farm-to-school program was doing with Fresh Roots and instantly got pretty inspired about that work, that wow, this type of collaboration is something that is very successful. I was really inspired by the partnership that was created between the school district and an external community-based organization… Once you could see that was doable, then it was like, okay, we have to start sourcing funding to start purchasing capital investment for site preparation of the space at Suwa’lkh, and then also things like the greenhouse.  

We needed somebody as a year-round steward of the garden and somebody that could help facilitate the components of the garden program in partnership with the school in partnership with the Indigenous Education department there, so Fresh Roots was an ideal partner for that. They had expertise in navigating through a school district, experience working with the Vancouver School District at the time, and expertise in facilitating gardening programs and all those types of things that go with it…

I’m certainly happy to know that years later, that Suwa’lkh is still there. Suwa’lkh School’s Medicine Garden is such an integral part of the department there and the Coquitlam School District. You mention that the salmon returning is just super incredible to know, that all those things that we thought about all those years ago, to see them actually happening, that salmon are returning, that nature is playing its role in all this and returning to the ways that it’s always done for eons. 

Malcolm teaching about sacred plant medicines with Vancouver SOYL youth

It’s awesome to keep hearing how this small space has grown over the past to what it is now. It’s so amazing to see!

…It was interesting coming back into the school district after COVID and seeing how much social anxiety there was, how much disconnect to each other because of that experience. A lot of youth suffered a lot for just that kind of social connectedness with each other, that sense of belonging. I really see now how important it is for our youth to get a connection to the land because it is such a common denominator for everybody. 

You’re not measured by your socioeconomic circumstances. You’re not measured by any other way. You are just connected to the land. That’s such an important thing, that kids can feel like they’re accepted just on that ground alone. That’s so important now as we move forward beyond COVID and having a healing space that’s land-based. It’s so important for our kids at this time of where we’re at. 

That’s a great segue into the next question. It’s about the healing forest – how and why did you want to establish the forest? 

It was interesting because when you look at babies and children, there is a natural gravitation towards water. Water is such a life source. It’s something that we have a connection to.

Once in a while, I would poke into the forest at Suwa’lkh to look at the beautiful creek there. I remember looking into the forest in June and it would be hot out in the park and grass area, but you go into the forest, it’s nice and cool. It just had a feeling of nurturing your spirit in there. Initially, I started thinking that it would be really nice to do something in this forest that the kids can go in there, maybe with an interpretation trail that they can walk around. It’s a place for the kids if school is challenging, they can go out and reset, and just be out in the forest and take a time out or just take some space. It would be a place where they can just go and feel like they’re grounded on Mother Earth. 

There was this vision to create an outdoor classroom. I’m an adult and I get annoyed being in a classroom that’s fluorescent lights and all this kind of stuff. To me, that’s almost a distraction. There’s all this stuff on the walls and I would feel like you’re more focused when you’re in the forest, so it just seems like a more natural space to be at. Then again, there’s a sense of calm when you’re in the forest. That is a nice kind of energy to create if you’re doing educational classes.

…It was nice to see that those things came to fruition and that forest is being utilized as it is now, that the salmon regeneration program is well underway. Seeing this become as successful as it is really something! 

Yeah, some of them even now, you can see them fidgeting a lot in the classroom and one of the first things that they’re asked is “Do you need to walk in the forest?”. Once they’re in there, it’s like an instant calm comes over them and it’s so amazing to see. 

When we realize that we have two mothers, the mother that brought you into this world, and then you have a Mother Earth, and that you can go and be with Mother Earth for a little while, it is such a nurturing and healing kind of experience that a lot of people can’t put their fingers on it. There is something there that gives them a sense of calm.

Suwa’lkh student offering cedar to the salmon stream

The last question which is the reason why it all started – what is the impact have you’ve seen with Fresh Roots since this partnership started and even today? 

Fresh Roots, the organization and their vision for the work that they do, is such an inspiration. They are over the target when it comes to the work that I see that’s important, the work that I’ve done in the past and also the work that I’m continuing to do now. I’ve actually been replicating quite a bit of the work that I did at Coquitlam now with the Vancouver School District, so that includes a partnership with Outward Bound Canada here, but it also now includes a new partnership with Fresh Roots out here in Vancouver. What’s really full circle in many ways is that it was the Coquitlam Indigenous Education Department going to Vancouver to see what Vancouver’s doing with the farm-to-school program and this past June, I’m now bringing Vancouver School District’s Indigenous Education department out to see what Coquitlam has been doing.

Just to see this whole full cycle play its course is really something. The work that’s happened out at Coquitlam is now something that is what our department here is looking to replicate here, within the Vancouver School District. It really speaks to the power of a partnership alliance and a coalition. When you get the right partners together that have a shared vision of work that they want to achieve together, the benefits that each partner is able to contribute to the work, it magnifies it even more. It compounds it. 

For Fresh Roots, we’re able to provide access to a lot of students that they’re able to facilitate their knowledge with. From the school district perspective, having a partner like Fresh Roots coming in and utilizing their expertise and stewarding these types of garden programs, it can’t be done by the school district alone. It needs to have this type of a partnership arrangement and Fresh Roots is a premier organization on the West Coast of Canada that’s involved in this type of work. Anytime I think of that type of work, I think that Fresh Roots has to be involved in it. 

Amazing! Is there anything else that you want to share? 

… There’s a lot of feeling that there’s a sense of powerlessness that we can’t change things in this world. As we’re experiencing first hand climate change and all these things, I just think that if kids are able to grow some salmon, put it in a river and see a few years later that they’re returning, that’s an empowering experience for them that they feel that they have the power to change things. That’s so valuable for their journey going forward that that will engage them in their future to continue to try to find ways that they can make positive changes in this world. 

Baby salmon about to be released

In the spring, when we release them, we still have some of the youth with us at the school who did that and now that we’re seeing them return, they’re very excited.

Jaimie: They want to go out and check if more have come. Are they still there? Are they still alive? Are they swimming? That’s great to see that they want to go and check. They really care about what’s happening out there and it’s so great to see because at the time when they were in the classroom, they kind of were like, why are we doing this and it’s hard to explain when they’re tiny eggs. There’s nothing to physically show them at that point. The goal is that they’re going to return and the whole thing is going to start again. 

Now that they know this is why we did this, they’re super excited about the forest and what they can do to make more people care about the forest like picking up their garbage. They’ve already got a whole bunch of sign ideas that they want to put in there to let people know what we’re doing. It’s great to see how engaged they are with the forest now. 

Malcolm: This is the business that we’re in – to ignite a sense of passion for learning for our youth and hopefully, that passion for learning is a motivation for them to want to push on into some other things and realize that their learning in their high school years is just the start of a lifelong learning of whatever it is that they’re pursuing in their lives for their careers and whatnot. That type of work to motivate our youth, to become learners and want to learn more and do more, that’s what still drives me today. If we can get our youth out there and fully engaged, then we’re doing our jobs. 

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IT’S THYME for Suwa’lkh

✨REASON #9 to donate to Fresh Roots this giving season: Suwa’lkh! ✨

DONATE HERE: https://freshroots.ca/its-thyme-year-end-fundraiser/

Introduction

Suwa’lkh is one of Fresh Roots’s most important spaces for students to connect with food, the land, and community through Indigenous youth leadership on a weekly basis, as well as field trips, SOYL, and summer camp. Check out what Jaimie, our Suwa’lkh Farm and Education Lead has to say:

“Having the Suwa’lkh youth help with all aspects of the farm twice a week, we are building important connections with each other, the land, and the food we are growing. Throughout the season, youth are preserving herbs, learning about canning, and growing sacred medicines to be used in the school district. To see that the youth are enjoying being outside and growing food is amazing, and we’re encouraging them to eat more foods that they are harvesting. 

In addition, the food grown on our small site is making its way to people all over Coquitlam. Youth get the opportunity to give back through bunching and bagging vegetables for food donations. I love that we are able to have that impact on families in the district and hope that the youth learn to feel connected to the community through the work we are doing.”

Donate Today!

Support the work at Suwa’lkh by helping us fundraise to buy practical needs!

🍂 30 people donating $10 will supply children’s gardening gloves needed on site 

🍂 10 people donating $50 will supply more wheelbarrows to engage more youth at Suwa’lkh

Story of Fresh Roots at Suwa’lkh

Learn the history of Suwa’lkh and its lasting impact from Malcolm Key, one of the founders of the Suwa’lkh garden: https://freshroots.ca/back-to-our-roots-malcolm/

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IT’S THYME for Youth Empowerment!

✨REASON #7 to donate to Fresh Roots this giving season: Youth Empowerment! ✨

DONATE HERE: https://freshroots.ca/its-thyme-year-end-fundraiser/

Introduction

“What do you want to do when you’re older?” is an age-old question in society, yet for most young people this can be an overwhelming thought. For many it’s full of barriers. So, at Fresh Roots we take this question outside on our Sustainable Opportunities for Youth Leadership (SOYL) where all are welcome on our schoolyard farms. Together we breathe some fresh air into that big question, mix in some sunshine, rain, mud, seeds and education to see what happens…

Over six weeks of SOYL in the summer and year-round in our after school program, youth from all walks of life get the chance to learn about food – how to grow, cook and sell it at local markets. Digging into meaningful connections with the land and each other, SOYL “grows more than just plants, it grows people” (SOYL participant). For their efforts, youth receive a stipend, a simple yet powerful form of recognition that supports and motivates youth to keep showing up on the farms, for themselves and their community. Many return to be SOYL mentors and increasing numbers are even becoming our summer camp staff! 

Whether youth leave knowing they might want to be a farmer one day or have no idea, the seeds of self-worth and confidence have been firmly planted and their mental health boosted: 

 “Personally, I have always had a lot of stage fright and feel anxious in environments with more people (especially when it comes to presenting). However, during SOYL I felt safe enough to want to present and talk to new people. I have also learned an extensive amount of information about nature and SOYL has contributed greatly to my environmental knowledge. I feel like I’ve grown more in 6 weeks of SOYL than a whole year of school!”

I have been able to gain a better idea of what my future might hold and the type of career (environmental sciences) I am interested in for the future”

 

Donate Today!

We are com’minting to raise $40,000 to get kids and youth learning and growing on schoolyard farms, and we need your help!

🌻6 people donating $100 supports a stipend for one 6-week summer SOYL youth participant to learn and grow.

🌻12 people donating $25 provides crucial training for summer staff on working with youth with neurodiversity and mental health challenges.

 

Impact of SOYL 2023

Join one of our Vancouver SOYL facilitators, Carolina, as she reflects on the importance of SOYL for the youth this season and also for herself: https://freshroots.ca/2023-soyl-stories/

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IT’S THYME for Work Experience!

✨ REASON #8 to donate to Fresh Roots this giving season: Work Experiences! ✨

DONATE HERE: https://freshroots.ca/its-thyme-year-end-fundraiser/

Introduction

“My journey with Fresh Roots began as an undergrad, in the early days when there was the schoolyard farm internship. Taking my academic understanding of biology and my experience in my family’s restaurant, Fresh Roots fostered and nurtured my strengths, transforming my outlook on science, career, and learning. It’s no wonder that I stayed volunteering at Fresh Roots for a few years before the opportunity arose to join the team as staff! Fresh Roots was and is more than just another work experience. Through deep connections and lots of potlucks, Fresh Roots gave me a taste of the power of community and in myself, building up my confidence and abilities in my formative young adult years. Even now I’m continuously being empowered to train and teach others on how to connect with the schoolyard farms. From supervising high school students to undergrad students every term and my years of non-profit administration, I love passing on what I have learnt and helping my peers expedite their professional development.

For us students, adults and adult volunteers – those who fall outside of the formal programming for elementary and secondary school – over the last decade, Fresh Roots has demonstrated a commitment to help us gain invaluable training and experience. We have been encouraged to explore and widen career possibilities as leaders and mentors, passing on knowledge and passion to the next generation to also become empowered food citizens. The fact that we see several SOYL alumni and former staff return each season speaks wonders to the impact that Fresh Roots has had on me and my peers. You really don’t get the depth of this feeling and impact at many other workplaces.”

– Vivian, former Intern, volunteer, and current Operations and Digital Engagement Specialist at Fresh Roots

 

Donate Today!

We are com’minting to raise $40,000 to get kids and youth learning and growing on schoolyard farms, and we need your help!

🌻 5 people donating $35 will purchase new rain gear and boots to have an hand for youth who don’t have the gear needed to stay warm and comfortable while working on the farms!

🌻 10 people donating $100 allows us to replace a clunky office laptop which is essential for work experience students to learn and work with!

 

Back to Our Roots with Jessica

Every summer, we hire youth ages 15-30 years old to gain valuable farm, education and youth experience. Check out Jessica’s story as the Market Lead in 2019: https://freshroots.ca/back-to-our-roots-jessica/

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IT’S THYME for People & Systems!

✨ REASON #6 to donate to Fresh Roots this giving season: People & Systems! ✨

DONATE HERE: https://freshroots.ca/its-thyme-year-end-fundraiser/

Introduction

A common misconception about nonprofits is that grants are the best solution to charitable funding. The reality is that grants, similar to social media, often only focus on what we can tangibly show in photos and videos and measure in numbers and quotes. Although project and program-based funding is important to our schoolyard farms, overhead is often an overlooked need to run these projects and programs.

One of the biggest struggles as a not-for-profit is seeking funding for the less social media-friendly but crucial day-to-day costs to ensure that we can operate. This includes “business” costs such as bookkeeping, administrative support, phone systems, office supplies, and software; staffing costs like , equitable staff salaries and staff training, and operating costs like vehicles and produce coolers, and their maintenance. Community donors like you help us have the flexibility to literally tend to the “roots” of our operations, ensuring our team has the training, tools and materials to effectively run a professional, sustainable and healthy workplace.

– Vivian Cheung, Operations & Digital Engagement Specialist

 

Help us help others by fertilizing our organizational capacity to focus on running meaningful programs!

 

Donate Today!

We are com’minting to raise $40,000 to get kids and youth learning and growing on schoolyard farms, and we need your help!

​​✏️10 people donating $20 will supply gas for our team to go to and from market

✏️10 people donating $20 covers the monthly cost of foundational HR software that facilitates hiring, onboarding, training, time tracking and more for our seasonal staff team!

 

Meet the Team

Fresh Roots is not just programs, but also supporting the people and operations that go on behind-the-scenes. Meet the unsung heroes who make the programs run for kids and youth on schoolyard farms every season: https://freshroots.ca/about/team/

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IT’S THYME for Field Trips!

✨ REASON #5 to donate to Fresh Roots this giving season: Field Trips! ✨

DONATE HERE: https://freshroots.ca/its-thyme-year-end-fundraiser/

Introduction

Our schoolyard farm field trips connect over 3,000 students a year to food, the land, and each other through hands-on learning experiences. Just listen to one teacher whose class visited us this fall:

“Students were so engaged and excited to talk about all the plants and bugs they had found and several mentioned that they had not been able to just dig in the dirt since they were toddlers. You offer an incredibly valuable experience to students and I am grateful for the care and expertise of your facilitators.” – Aja Geddes, Grade 4-5 teacher

Help get students digging into more learning on local schoolyard farms!

– Andrea, Experiential Learning Program Lead at Fresh Roots

 

Donate Today!

We are com’minting to raise $40,000 to get kids and youth learning and growing on schoolyard farms, and we need your help!

​​✏️20 people donating $40 will keep field trip fees accessible for twenty local school classes.

✏️10 people donating $10 will help us buy seeds to teach kids how to grow their own food.

 

Come Prepare for a Field Trip with us

This past fall, we had the pleasure to work together with LFS 496 students Jindi and Jia to engage students on schoolyard farms. Hear from one of our UBC Community Educator’s about how we’re preparing to host more students on our farm for the upcoming spring field trips: https://freshroots.ca/prepping-for-spring-field-trips/ 

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IT’S THYME for Summer Camp!

✨ REASON #4 to donate to Fresh Roots this giving season: Summer Camp! ✨

DONATE HERE: https://freshroots.ca/its-thyme-year-end-fundraiser/

Introduction

I could say a lot about Camp Fresh Roots. How we create an inclusive environment for campers and staff alike, how we help kids discover new foods through our kids-choice driven cooking programs, how we give kids real meaningful work to help our farms to grow. But I think our campers and their families can say it best:  

“Rosemary said this is her most favourite camp that she has ever attended and wishes she could do more!”

“Charlie was bouncing with excitement about this camp; on her first day she said she felt like she had “a thousand things” to tell us. It was wonderful to see her so excited about camp, and about food!”

“Mila came home full of information. You made education fun! She was very keen to make us dinner and breakfast after the camp. Loved it thank-you!”

Camp is a powerful experience and we’re committed to make it accessible to all the kids in our communities. Each year, we welcome 300 campers to Camp Fresh Roots on a sliding scale basis – families pick the price point they can afford with no means testing – as well as offering additional discounts and camp bursaries through our community partners. It is thanks in part to donors that we can keep our camps affordable at a time when family budgets are so tight.

Your donation of $1500 allows us to pay a Canada Summer Jobs staff above the minimum wage. $300 covers the cost for one camp bursary. $100 covers the difference between our accessible rate and the true cost of camp for one camper. And $20 feeds one camper daily farm-fresh snacks and a weekly cooked lunch.

– Kat, Director of Experiential Learning at Fresh Roots

 

Donate Today!

We are com’minting to raise $40,000 to get kids and youth learning and growing on schoolyard farms, and we need your help!

🥕10 people donating $30 allows one family in financial need to send their child to camp

🥕5 people donating $20 covers the difference between our accessible sliding scale rate and the true cost of camp for one camper

 

How to Cook with Kids Outside

What does our education team have to say about engaging campers? Check out this blog from our Experiential Learning Program Lead, Andrea, about cooking outside with kids thanks to one of our awesome sponsors, Nature’s Path: https://freshroots.ca/how-to-cook-outside-with-kids/

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The Last Four Months at Fresh Roots

By Jia Qiao, Experiential Learning Community Educator – UBC Career Experience Practicum

Hello, my name is Jia Qiao, I am a graduate student at UBC studying the Adult Learning and Education program. This winter term, I am enrolled in the practicum course LFS 496 with Fresh Roots, working as the Experiential Learning Community Educator. I am incredibly grateful for the opportunity to work on the farm and engage with various groups of students, teachers from different schools in Vancouver, and the Fresh Roots team!


As the 4-month work placement comes to an end, much like the farm winding down for winter, I reflect on the diverse activities I have been involved in over the past few months. One highlight has been supporting field trips for students of varying age groups, from kindergarteners to high schoolers. Witnessing students visit the farm in all weather conditions, be it warm and sunny or chilly and rainy, has been truly remarkable. Engaging with them in various farm activities, such as weeding and resurfacing walking paths with wood chips, has been a fulfilling experience. Many students, experiencing farm work for the first time, embraced the opportunity to get their hands and clothes dirty, proud to be considered real farmers.

Through collaborating with their classmates during the farm work, kids experienced both the joy and challenges of working together, as each individual thinks and works differently. For example, there was a time when I worked with a group of elementary school kids to prepare the farm beds for winter by covering them with leaves. From the outset, the group encountered some disputes over their roles—determining who would be responsible for raking leaves into piles, while others carried the leaves with a wheelbarrow and dumped them on the beds. Throughout the working process, some students were goal-oriented and tried different ways to efficiently complete their tasks, while others took their time and engaged in playful interactions with the leaves. Despite these differences in approach, all team members eventually experienced a sense of fulfillment when the entire farm bed was covered by a beautiful blanket of leaves!

I also enjoyed organizing scavenger hunt activities with children, allowing them to explore the signs of the fall season on the farm. As the kids marched out to the farm, they eagerly kept their eyes wide open to observe all the indications of fall. They listened intently, their ears tuned to the sounds of crows and other animals gathering food. Their excitement peaked when they discovered spiders diligently weaving webs in the tea garden. The joy and enthusiasm displayed by the children during these activities added a delightful dimension to the exploration of nature’s wonders on the farm.

Student made waffles

 Since the beginning of November, I have been assisting Andrea, who is the Experiential Learning Program Lead at Fresh Roots, with the school garden and food programming at Grandview ¿uuqinak’uuh Elementary School. One particularly memorable experience was coordinating a waffle party with the class, a successful event made possible by Andrea’s significant planning and preparation ahead of the big day. Despite Andrea’s efforts, I couldn’t help but wonder if we could successfully manage it with a class of about 15 students!

To streamline the process, the entire class was divided into three small groups: the dry ingredient group, the wet ingredient group, and the cooking group. Each group executed their part based on a recipe assigned to them. For most students, making waffles was a novel experience, and they were thrilled to try different tools and experiment with various ingredients. Though the tables ended up in a bit of a mess, the true magic unfolded when students, seated together at a table, joyfully savoured the delicious waffles they had each contributed to making. Witnessing how different pieces seamlessly came together was truly amazing and exemplified the transformative power of teamwork.

Reflecting on my work placement at the farm and its relevance to my graduate studies in Adult Learning and Education, I am reminded of the learning theories discussed in my classes. These theories underscore the idea that all learning practices are inherently both material and social, or socio-material. In this context, the environment, other animals, objects, and artifacts are viewed as integral to the enactment of human existence and social life, rather than merely background context or tools (Fenwick & Edwards, 2013). The farm, in this case, is considered a crucial component of human existence and a mediator of learning.

Jia spreading straw for garlic planting

Farms are great pedagogical sites for both youth and adult learning. They offer spaces for learning not only about gardening and local ecological conditions but also about sustainability, the decolonization of place, and participatory democracy (Levkoe, 2006; Mundel & Chapman, 2010). Additionally, farms function as “therapeutic landscapes” that contribute to physical, mental, and cultural well-being, increasingly integrated into healthcare and other healing practices (Pitt, 2014; Wilson, 2003). Common activities such as farming foster deep relationships and mutual learning processes within practices.

Beyond academic insights, I have gleaned invaluable life lessons from my engagement in farm work, and the ability to adapt to and embrace changes and uncertainties. Our lives, like the life cycle of a farm, traverse different seasons – a season to sow, a season to grow, a season to harvest, and a season to rest. As with the farm, our lives undergo various phases, and I aspire to possess the wisdom, courage, and patience necessary to navigate through these different seasons in life. Finally, I extend my heartfelt gratitude to the Fresh Roots team, with special thanks to Kat, Andrea, and Vivian, for providing me with the opportunity to work with them and enriching my work placement experience!

 

A Big Thank You to Jia! 🌸

Jia spent September – December 2023 with Fresh Roots, helping make hands-on learning outside a reality on our schoolyard farms and Grandview ¿uuqinak’uuh Elementary School garden. Jia reminded us to marvel at small and large changes on the farm as the seasons changed. She always brought joy, curiosity and enthusiasm with her to the often hectic and rainy realities of teaching on a schoolyard farm. Thank you to Jia for being up for new experiences and so beautifully balancing the priorities between being a student, mom, and volunteer. We are looking forward to seeing where life takes you next!