Taking Science Outside Supported by NSERC!

Do you remember the first seed that you planted? The way that it sat in the palm of your hand until you tucked it in the soil? How about feeling like a proud plant parent when finally, its little green head groggily peaked up through the ground?

As scientists, we live for those little moments. In those moments the words in our textbooks germinate and come to life. No longer just a thought but a shared experience. Little moments like these breathe life into our scientific curiosity – to branch out from the first seed of knowledge that was first planted in us to reach beyond ourselves.

We at Fresh Roots want to recognize the generous contributions of the Natural Science and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC). It is through supporters like these that we are able to facilitate these little moments for teachers and students, where science learning leaps out of the pages and into nature, through our field trips, workshops, and SOYL (Sustainable Opportunities for Youth Leadership)! We aim to empower youth as citizen farmers and scientists by growing, cooking and managing schoolyard farms, to excite youth about agricultural and environmental sciences, to assist teachers in inspiring science learning through place-based learning.

Please share your memories of the first you remember being a part of something growing. We’d love to hear from you!

We acknowledge the support of the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC).
Nous remercions le Conseil de recherches en sciences naturelles et en génie du Canada (CRSNG) de son soutien.


A Big (really big!) Fresh Roots Announcement

A Big (really big!) Fresh Roots Announcement

It’s been ten years, that I’ve been here, helping Fresh Roots to grow
It’s hard work and seeds, meeting educational needs: 
A Good Food For All combo
We created a space with shovels and rakes, 
Where youth could build out their skills
Grow food for themselves, as well as their pals, 
Learning what’s possible with their strong wills.
And now it’s my turn, after all that I’ve learned, 
To start on a new adventure
Plotting and scheming, how more kids can be eating, 
Has been such an absolute pleasure
I’ll ride into the sunset, set off on a new quest, 
As Fresh Roots celebrates where it is now
Good Food For All, growing and cooking spring through fall, 
Huzzah! For all of this WOW!
      -Marc Schutzbank, Fresh Roots Founder

At the heart of our organization is the idea that youth can. They can develop and run farms; they can and should have access to Good Food; they can make their lives, and the lives of their communities better simply for being a part of it. For over a decade, Fresh Roots – with the support, encouragement and participation of our strong community, has been planting the seeds of Good Food for All.

Today we want to share with you the news that founder, Executive Director and Poet-in Chief, Marc Schutzbank has decided to pursue new adventures beyond Fresh Roots.

Marc has been an invaluable part of the Fresh Roots story – making Fresh Roots into the leader in the school food movement in Canada that it is today. Marc’s contributions to Fresh Roots are immeasurable. His legacy will forever be captured by the incredible milestones of the last 10 years:

🥕 First Schoolyard Farms in Canada – to now over 10 acres on three schoolyards that Fresh Roots is helping steward
🥕 Started as a volunteer-run organization, now $1M with over 100 staff and youth SOYL Crew
🥕 From serving 3 families in one backyard to serving now over 6000 youth annually.

Please take a moment to enjoy Marc’s ‘See you Soon’ message

We are excited about where we have been, and we look forward to the future. It is with great pleasure that we announce the appointment of Alexa Pitoulis as the Executive Director. No stranger to Fresh Roots, Alexa brought her young children (now teenagers) to the original schoolyard farm builds at Vancouver Technical Secondary and David Thompson Secondary and has recently served on the Fresh Roots’ Board. Alexa skillfully led the Fresh Roots team as the Interim Executive Director through pandemic challenges to an incredibly impactful year. We have no doubt her 20 years of leadership experience will nourish the soil for Fresh Roots to stretch and grow to new heights!

With gratitude,
Matt, Scott, Tracy, Heather, and Karn
Board of Directors, Fresh Roots



P.S. from Alexa
It is with sincere gratitude and sheer joy that I am stepping into the Executive Director role. A special thank you to Marc Schutzbank for all the support and knowledge sharing he has offered this past year. And to you – Thank YOU! One thing I have learned this past year is the incredible depth and heart of our community and what we can do together. If I have not yet had the pleasure of connecting with you, I look forward to a call, a walk, a farm visit, sharing a salad, or a conversation at the market – reach out anytime! or 778-764-0344 ext 101

“See You Soon” A Message From Marc Schutzbank

“See You Soon” 

It was ten years ago that I had the chance to see one of Fresh Roots’ first plants grow. It was a towering Jerusalem Artichoke – small golden sunflowers on top, and a tasty potato-ish tuber on the bottom. Standing tall in a schoolyard in East Vancouver, it would regrow itself each year, making the 8-foot journey from soil to sky. It inspired me to stand a little taller and strive a little longer. I was just a young kid – and Fresh Roots was also young – trying to figure out how to make this world a little better and what my – and its – role could and should be. 

And so we grew together – with many of you! Together we celebrated the joy of fresh food and the lessons learned through growing, eating, and observing: patience, teamwork, forbearance, and so much more. As a board member, volunteer, field hand, poet-in-chief and Executive Director at Fresh Roots, I’ve realized that we have always been bringing more than sunshine yellow flowers and fruits to schools. We have been cultivating joy, building and animating creative learning spaces, and instilling the firm belief that youth themselves have the power and capacity to make their lives better.

After ten years, and one-third of my life, I’m ready to spread my wings and take on a new adventure. I’ll be leaving Fresh Roots this winter, saying goodbye to Fresh Roots, this first child with Ilana Labow. I think that Fresh Roots is ready to leave the nest and ready for its next adventure. I too am ready to spread my wings and serve my community in a new and different way. 

At the same time, Fresh Roots is already off to an exciting new part of its journey. Alexa Pitoulis, long-time supporter and former board member, will be the new Executive Director. It’s been a pleasure working with Alexa over the past few years and I know that she will continue to lead the Fresh Roots community with joy and inspiration.  

Thank you to each and every one of you who have been part of my personal journey and have been and are a part of Good Food For All.  It’s incredible what happens when even a few hands get together and plant something larger than themselves – there’s nothing we cannot do.  Here’s to the next ten years of Good Food For All.  

With a fistful of sunshine, 


PS – Please do not hesitate to be in touch. You can reach me at


CSA Veggie Box Sales Are Now OPEN!!

TODAY is the day! CSA Veggie Box sales are now OPEN! We would love to see you join us as a member for the 2021 growing (and eating!) season. Questions about how our CSA program works? We’ve created a handy FAQ to help answer some commonly asked questions.

This year, we are offering a 20-week full-season share which runs from June to October, AND a brand new Good Food Market Credit Program which provides flexibility for those folks who prefer market-style shopping for fresh, local vegetables when and where they like. Click the buttons below for more information and learn how you can support Fresh Roots’ children and youth programs while enjoying ultra-local, season produce grown using organic practices!


Introducing Vivian Cheung our new Operations Coordinator!

“Vivian’s Story – From Table to Farm”

Like many university students, my journey to Fresh Roots began when I was looking for ways to gain experience in my field of study. I was a biology undergraduate student at UBC and although my lectures and labs equipped me with the theoretical framework to think like a biologist, I had yet to ‘get my feet wet’ in the practical application of what I was learning, both literally and figuratively. I knew I wanted to help people, especially in empowering environmental stewardship and teaching others about life’s curiosities. Beyond that, like many university students, I was uncertain where to start.

At the same time, my family opened up a restaurant near Granville Island. That meant in between lectures, I would bus back and forth to help out, serving hearty bowls of noodle soup to Vancouverites on cold rainy days. Over time, I began becoming increasingly aware of the importance and power of making healthy food choices. Through hours of conversations with customers, I realized the potential for communities to form and bond through food.

In 2016, I joined Fresh Roots as one of the three Schoolyard Farm interns. From the moment I stepped foot into the gardens at David Thompson Secondary, I felt at home. Our team and programs were smaller back then but nonetheless, the sense of community and passion for social change was and is still evident for all who interact with Fresh Roots.

Even though at that moment, I could tell you the scientific life cycle of Brassica oleracea, I could not show you how to harvest kale when I first started my internship. Preparing my first garden beds was also a huge milestone even though my muscles were very sore in the days that followed. As a highly detailed person, I wrestled with the endless battle with the garden weeds, especially horsetail. Nonetheless, I knew these challenges were opportunities for me to grow as an individual and as a team in a safe and inviting community.

By the end of my internship, I moved from being a consumer of knowledge, sitting at the table as an observer, to a farmer of good food, both literally and figuratively, as my highlights include early harvest days and assembling CSA boxes at the ICC, to providing food for thought in my interactions with volunteers and market-goers. It was exciting for me to help mentor SOYL youth in the very things I could not do in the beginning, including harvesting kale and preparing garden beds. I knew my mind and abilities were stronger, though my battle with horsetail still continues to this day.

Fresh Roots sparked my passion for supporting community empowerment. Since then, I have graduated from UBC and worked in a couple of non-profit organizations, putting my attention to detail to good use through administrative support. This year, I return to Fresh Roots as the Operations Coordinator.

I am excited to continue my Fresh Roots journey with you all in the new year!


Join us for our Schoolyard Harvest Dinner *At Home/Online Edition*!

Join us for the Fourth Annual Schoolyard Harvest Dinner

*At Home/Online Edition*

 On Thursday, August 13th we’ll celebrate together (apart) with an elegant summer meal experience composed of the best and freshest of the season’s harvest all in support of Fresh Roots programs that engage and empower youth.

Traditionally our event has been a long table dinner held on the lawn at David Thompson Secondary. This year, observing restrictions of large group gatherings, Fresh Roots and guests will be connecting and congregating as a community online. Gathering together virtually and celebrating with a delicious, intimate summer meal experience composed of the season’s harvest in support of youth.

For this extra-special year, Fresh Roots is creating summer harvest boxes filled with everything you’ll need to create a beautiful summertime meal experience to share with friends, family, or colleagues at home. The box will include fresh and chef-prepared ingredients for a simple and delicious meal and thoughtful accoutrements like wine and flowers for the table.

Guests will come together online on August 13 at 6:00 pm for a celebration and program featuring kitchen tips and tricks from chefs TJ Conwi and Natasha Sawyer about how to compose your plates with the contents of your summer harvest box. Participants from the SOYL program will also share stories about their time with Fresh Roots.

Menu – just announced!


Amuse Bouche – Profiteroles stuffed with Freshroots Herbs and Salt Spring Island Goat Cheese. Candied Agassiz Hazelnuts. Wine Compressed Figs

Charcuterie Board – a selection of charcuterie from Legends Haul, an assortment of local pickled vegetables from our friends at Cropthorne Farm, Zaklan Heritage Farm and Freshroots, Saltspring Harvest Vege Pate and Vegan Spreadable dips accompanied by a demi-load of freshly- baked Fife Bakery Bread

Main – Sous Vide Organic Ocean Sockeye Masala and Legends Haul Sirloin, Fresh Roots Harvest Salad, Zucchini Palak Paneer Terrine, Carrot Vindaloo Vinaigrette, Atchara Relish, and Wheatberries

Dessert –Cheesecake topped with raspberry coulis from Olera Organic Farms

Beverages- your choice of a bottle of red or white wine from Marquis Wine Cellars, cans of 33 Acres Sunshine French Blanchè beer and kombucha from Bucha Brew.

Accoutrements- a bouquet of flowers for the table, cookies from Susgrainable, surprises created by our SOYL youth program participants, and more.

We will have a limited number of experiences for groups of two, four or six guests and are excited to offer incentives for folks who’d like to share the experience with others by hosting a larger (safe) gathering or sponsoring a company-wide dinner. Please contact Caroline Manuel, Communications and Engagement Manager at 778-764-0344 ext. 108 or with any questions or for more information.


1. Purchase ticket(s)!

2. Choose a pick-up day! Packages will be ready for pick up in Vancouver Wednesday, August 12th where you will have an opportunity to meet our SOYL youth team who will have been working hard to create some special products to share with you! We will reach out to confirm which day works best for you, provide pick up location address, and any other helpful details! (If you would like to host a group we will be happy to arrange for the delivery of Dinners of 8 or more!)

3. On Thursday, August 13th you’ll set your table, lay out your picnic blanket, or find a lovely spot to enjoy your four-course meal. Make sure to chill the beverages in your package! (minimal cooking required for non-vegetarian dinners)

4. You’ll log on (with a link we will provide) at 6:00 pm to connect with your fellow guests and our Fresh Roots team and SOYL youth. Our talented chef partners will walk you through the simple preparation of the contents of your experience package providing some easy insider tips on how to prep and plate like a pro!

5. Once your meal is ready we’ll pause for a quick reset and give you a chance to sip a beverage and sample your first course!

6. We’ll continue with our celebration program and wrap up the festivities around 7:00 pm.


2019 Fresh Roots Impact Report

We’re thrilled to share all of the amazing things Fresh Roots got up to in 2019!

In true Fresh Roots form, 2019 was another remarkable year! We are incredibly grateful for the diverse network of staff, volunteers, supporters, partners, and collaborators who continue to make our work possible. Thank you!

We hope you enjoy a glimpse into the world of Fresh Roots. Please reach out if you have any questions at all!

Check out the report by clicking on the image below and download to share!


Suwa’lkh School’s Native Plant Sale Now ONLINE!

The Fresh Roots Team at Suwa’lkh School is very excited to announce that we’ve brought this year’s Native Plant Sale online with 2 convenient pick-up locations! If you’ve been looking to learn more about native plant species or have been searching to find your favourite native plants for your garden, this is the blog post you’ve been waiting for! 

When Fresh Roots formed a partnership with the Indigenous Education Department in Coquitlam/Kwikwetlem, one of the main requests from this community was to help provide access to native plants, especially those harder to find for sale or in our urban environment. The beauty of the Native Plant Nursery Project here at Suwa’lkh School is that the youth who work with us in preparing and selling the native plants also learn about those plants, their uses, and their seasonality.

Gray Oron, the Suwa’lkh Project Manager, had this to say about the native plants we grow:

“Native plants not only give us a sense of place and connect us to the history of the land and the people on it, but they also support our local ecosystems and are easier to care for than most plants. One of the most common questions I get is: ‘can they be outside, right now?’ The answer is yes! They belong here, they are from here, and if you give them the right environment, they will need much less care than most non-native plants!”

We are working towards deeper guidance and connection with local First Nations Communities, Knowledge Keepers, and Elders. We strive to be an ally by providing native plants to the local community and space to support the passing of knowledge to youth. The web pages for each of the native plant species we’re offering in our shop are full of information about each species, their preferred conditions, and their interactions with wildlife and humans.

You can scroll through our online shop, add the plants you would like to have in your garden to your cart, choose a pickup location, and pay online all in a few simple clicks! We will contact you to arrange a pick-up time at your chosen location once you have placed an order. There are two pickup locations to choose from: 


  1. Italian Cultural Centre (Vancouver) on Wednesdays from 4-7 pm during our Pop Up Market
  2. Suwa’lkh Secondary School (Coquitlam) on Thursdays from 4-7 pm


Thank you in advance for your support in all of the work we do at Fresh Roots, especially during this difficult time! We are grateful to the communities we are a part of and your efforts to support native wildlife and youth education through our Native Plant Sale.

Happy planting!

The Suwa’lkh Fresh Roots Team


Black Lives Matter: An Open Letter to Our Fresh Roots Community

It’s with heavy hearts that we share our message of solidarity with the families who have lost loved ones unjustly, the protestors and all those raising their voices and demanding justice against racism in all forms, and in this moment specifically, Anti-Black racism.

“Racism, and specifically Anti-Black racism, is just as prevalent in Canada as in other countries. According to Statistics Canada, one percent of the population of B.C. and 3.5 percent of Canadians identify as Black. This population, as well as Indigenous populations, are often disproportionately targeted by police.

Black households are 3.6 times more likely to be food insecure than White households and 36.6% of Black children live in food insecure households. A ten year study released in 2019 found that overall, nearly half of First Nations families struggle to put food on the table”. [1]

Fresh Roots knows that the path to a just food system must involve the dismantling of systemic oppression and White Supremacy Culture. We cannot have a conversation about food security without also addressing racism, discrimination, and systemic barriers that disproportionately impact people of colour and indigenous populations.

The vision that guides our work is Good Food For All, where everyone has access to healthy food, land, and community. We work towards this by engaging diverse children, youth, and adults in experiential learning on the educational schoolyard farms we steward along with our partners and collaborators. We are acutely aware that racism manifests differently in place-specific ways and is often tied to land. We acknowledge that we grow food and are stewards of spaces that are unceded lands of the Kwikwetlem, Katzie, Sto:lo, Musqueam, Tsleil Waututh, and Squamish Coast Salish peoples.

While our hearts are heavy, we are also activated and see the most recent events as an opportunity for us to all work together. We know that words are not enough. We know as a settler organization we have work to do. We know that every conversation matters. We are committed to the journey to become better allies and stronger and louder advocates for anti-racism and justice.

Today, we share information about ways to support Anti-Black racism and the Black community. We are also amplifying voices in the arena of food justice, including resources that address the intersectionality of racism and environmental and food justice.

Please consider supporting the following organizations:

Black Lives Matter Vancouver
B.C. Black History Awareness Society
Afro Van Connect
Black in BC Community Support Fund for COVID-19
Black Youth Helpline
The Conscious Kid
Hogan’s Alley Society

Some learning resources that we find really useful are:

Anti-Racist Resource Guide from researcher Victoria Alexander
● How to Talk to Kids about Race and Racism
There is No Food Justice without Racial Justice
Farming While Black by Leah Penniman
Why Canada’s unions are highlighting environmental racism during Black History Month
● Environmental racism in North America: a history and recommendations for the future
14 African American Women Leading Change in the U.S. Food System
Five Black farmers and researchers making the food system more inclusive
Hoovie Movie’s Black Lives Matter collection: Whose Streets?, Hale County This Morning, This Evening and Quest
Playlist of Anti-Racism Films (National Film Board of Canada)
Racism in Canada is ever-present, but we have a long history of denial, Remembering 27 Black, Indigenous, and racialized people killed by Canadian police
It’s long-past time to talk about policing of Black women in Canada
Sandy and Nora talk about how society could defund the police and create new services to keep people safe

In pursuit of joy and justice,

Alexa Pitoulis

Fresh Roots, Interim Executive Director

1.”There’s No Room for Racism in a Just Food System (or a Just Society)”