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A SOYL Summer- Part 2

As the 2020 SOYL (Sustainable Opportunities for Youth Leadership) wraps up another action-packed week or learning and growing together we are sharing the second installment in the three-part series written by four SOYL alumni from the summer of 2019. Introducing the second installment of this three-part series:

Written by Stephanie, Maria, Railene, and Sarina, 2019 SOYL Participants

Chapter one: The beginning of SOYL

The anticipation of SOYL was finally over as the first day finally arrived. We gathered together in a circle, seeing new faces. We were sorted in crews with people we had not yet connected with. While we started doing icebreakers and name games the awkwardness slowly faded away. Despite only meeting hours before, our interest bonded us together with beautiful conversations. Laughter and joy spread as we progressed through our first day. Closing off, we participated in an activity that ensured our friendship with one another. A ball of neon pink string was passed between all of us and we wrapped the string around our wrist three times. When it was our turn we would say what our goals for SOYL are. We discussed our goals to contribute to each other and promised to uphold the community agreements. In our community agreements, we agreed to be on time and be respectful to everyone in the community. Our schedules were formed the following week and we had lots to do. On the first day, we also learned how to use the gardening tools safely. We learned the importance of watching our surroundings so we don’t get into an accident. One of the two most important things we took from SOYL on our first week was safety but mostly fun!

Chapter Two: Community Eats

Most of the SOYL members can agree Community Eats is one of the best things in SOYL! What isn’t there to love about eating healthy, delicious, sustainable foods together as a community. In the morning a crew goes up to the kitchen inside the school and starts planning for the yummy meal. The veggies that sadly could not make it to the farmers’ market due to imperfections are used in the meal. For example, sometimes the vegetable isn’t pretty but it’s still perfect to eat. Community Eats is a hands-on learning experience for students. We learn to cook the food and on the other hand, we learn the importance of reducing waste. A couple of topics we covered in Community Eats are how we can use the unwanted pieces of veggies to make a broth instead of composting right away and we also learned about urban agriculture but will get more into that later. When all the cooked food was brought outside, we gathered together to listen to one of our SOYL crew members to introduce the meal of the day. While we were eating the delicious food we started having conversations with our SOYL staff, mentors, and crew members.

Chapter three: Farm Work

From buckets to shovels, every tool had a purpose on the farm that would make specific tasks easier. The first time on the farm we learned about tools such as forks and shears to ease into using them in the future. We even learned about the benefits of a glove. The glove will protect you from small thorns pricking your fingers or spiky weeds difficult to pull out. The facilitators made sure we knew how to handle such large tools with safety and care. Nicole, Hanah, and Sunny were the facilitators that ensured we understood how to clean the tools and safely put the barrels back. By the end of the day, we all knew how to properly use them. Tools such as shovels were used by the majority of us to remove the weeds in the beds with deeper roots. We all took part in the satisfaction of pulling a weed in one swift pull. Sometimes on the farm, we have been hungry for a snack while weeding and a simple trick is to eat one of the popular edible weeds on the farm. Most of us can say purslane is one of the best snacks on the farm. It’s succulent which contains water, making the pure green leaf fun and crunchy. The lemony leafy taste makes it even more desirable when spotting a bunch on the veggie beds. After the unwanted plants are pulled out of the beds we harvest the veggies. Harvesting is a rewarding job to do. The eye-catching multi-colored plants are removed from the beautiful deep rich soil we have on the farm. The mouth-watering task makes our days a whole step more enjoyable. During the program, we go to two different high schoolyard farms, one at David Thompson and the second one at Van Tech.

Proceeds from the Fresh Roots Fourth Annual Schoolyard Dinner *At Home Edition* fundraiser On Sale Now provide critical funding for Fresh Roots programs, like SOYL, that engage and empower youth more important now than ever!

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