Fresh Five Week 5: Senses

Week Five of the Fresh Five? Well, we just gotta keep that theme going, don’t we? So this week we’ll focus on our Five Senses!  Not all people have all of these five senses, but everyone uses at least some of them to navigate the world. One of the best ways to make deep and lasting connections is to engage our senses, and food can be great way to have a mindful sensory experience.

I had a wonderful experience with some rhubarb I harvested from my back yard this week. It was one of those showery days where everything was damp, and the giant rhubarb leaves were wet and rough as I pushed them gently aside so I could find just the right stalks. The cool, firm stalks released from the base with a pop as I pulled them with a little twist. The stalks themselves were a beautiful, shiny blush pink at the base, like the apple blossoms on the tree in the yard, becoming ruby red at the stem end. One of them broke as I was harvesting, and the scent was bright, sharp, and fresh. And I just had to try a bite. It was mouth-wateringly sour, crisp and crunchy, and just tasted alive as only freshly-picked foods can. (I love feeding raw rhubarb to students. It’s a taste they either love, or love to hate!) And that was before I even got it into the kitchen!

Here are five ways to use your senses to experience the world this week.

See Art in Your Kitchen

Have you seen the #gettymuseumchallenge? It’s the one where people are recreating famous works of art using things around their houses, and there have been some amazing recreations. (Dog with a Pearl Earring, anyone?) And, of course, some of our favorites have been created out of food, like The Scream in Focaccia, Woman in Biscuits, or a whipped cream Starry Night.

Now we’re challenging you! Use your eye for shape, color, and texture to create something amazing out of the food or other items in your kitchen. If you share your creations, be sure to tag us! We’re @freshrootsfarms on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.

Need some inspiration? You can use Google Street View to take a tour of the Vancouver Art Gallery. How cool is that!

Tour the Vancouver Art Gallery


Touch a Mystery Veggie

Nothing is more exciting than reaching into a box, bag, or jar to feel what’s inside! It turns and ordinary turnip or pepper into a mystery to solve. This lesson is one of our all time favorites, in part because of the mystery and in part because it’s so flexible. No veggies? Use fruits, or leaves from outside, or even kitchen utensils! Use what you’ve got! For younger kids, just reaching in and guessing which of a few different options is in the box is great. For older kids, they can use this as a way to really connect with a plant they are growing or studying about in a fun way. Exploring through one sense at a time is a great mindfulness activity, too.

Mystery Veggie Activity Guide 


Smell a Memory

Smell is the sense that’s most powerfully tied to our memories. Whether it’s the smell of favorite foods cooking, spring flowers, someone’s perfume, or a certain dish soap, smells can instantly transport us to our past. This awesome lesson from the Edible Schoolyard Project will help you learn how smells lodge themselves in our brains.

How Do We Smell? Lesson

Hear Your Neighborhood

Hearing is one sense we can never turn off. Because if that, most of us learn to tune out a lot of the noise around us. But sounds can tell us a lot about out environment and the life within it. This Sound Mapping activity from Sharing Nature helps us be aware of the sounds we might otherwise miss.  And this is a great time of year to get listening, as the birds are very active and vocal right now!

Sound Mapping

Taste Carrot Top Pesto

Each week, the LuchLAB: Chefs for Families project shares over 5,000 meals with Vancouver School Board families who need extra support right now. The project is a collaboration between Fresh Roots and Growing Chefs!, and not only is it feeding people, but it’s employing chefs, supporting local food systems, and turning food that might otherwise be wasted into delicious meals, like this carrot top pesto! These carrot tops came right off the schoolyard farm-grown carrots we planted last fall. Don’t have carrot tops? You can use spinach, arugula, nettles, or most any other spring green.

Carrot Top Pesto Recipe

Don’t forget to stop and smell the lilacs!



Fresh Five Week 4: Flower Power

They say that April showers bring May flowers, and we’ll see if that’s right this week! Friday is May Day, which has been celebrated with flowers since Roman times, when it was known as Floralia, a 6-day long celebration in honor of Flora, goddess of flowers. One May Day tradition from my childhood which may be due for a revival is making May Baskets, simple woven paper baskets filled with flowers, often dandelions or other blooming “weeds” we found in our yard. We would, as tradition required, sneak up to our neighbors’ doors, place the basket, knock, and run away with much excitement.I can’t help but think this would be a fantastic way to stay physically distant but socially close. Who doesn’t love getting flowers!

In honor of May Day, this week’s Fresh Five is all about Flower Power.

Forage for Edible Flowers

Flowers are beautiful, but did you know they can be delicious, too? Our Edible Flower Field Guide will help you identify some of the many tasty, colorful flowers you might find in your neighborhood. It includes sustainable foraging guidelines, and an Edible Flower Bingo card you can bring with you as you go looking for treats. Please forage responsibly!

Edible Flower Field Guide



Find Flower Friends

While you’re out looking at flowers, slow down and keep your eyes peeled for bees, butterflies, and more! We’ll have a whole week dedicated to pollinators, but this is a great time to start looking for them. You can help scientists track what species are living where using the Insight Citizen Science iPhone app. Don’t have an iPhone? Bumble Bee Watch (based in the US) lets you take pictures with any device and upload them to their database. Both of these projects are meaningful ways you can contribute to scientific knowledge in your community!

Insight Citizen Science
Bumble Bee Watch


Dissect a Flower

But why do pollinators visit flowers? And why do flowers want pollinators to visit them? Check out this Flower Dissection lesson from the great folks at SPEC to learn about the different parts of a flower and their functions, and see why pollinators are so important to plants, and to us! It’s part of their Green Thumbs at School lesson book, which is full of other great lessons. 

Flower Dissection Lesson

Press Flowers

If you have blooms that are too pretty to eat (or just not edible), you can press them and turn them into lasting decorations! This site has great descriptions of many different ways to press and dry flowers. Did you know you can press your flowers in the microwave? I sure didn’t!

Flowering Pressing

Roast Cauliflower

Is cauliflower really a flower? Yes, it is! The tight, white head of the cauliflower is actually its immature flower buds. If you left it on the plant, it would bloom! Broccoli is a flower too. Coating anything in butter and roasting it is sure to make it even more delicious, and cauliflower is no exception. You can substitute the curry powder with any of your favorite seasoning blends. Adding a colorful sprinkle of cilantro or dandelion petals takes it from everyday to gourmet.

Roasted Curry Cauliflower Recipe

Happy Flowering!



Fresh Five Week 3: Earth Day!

Earth Day turns 50 this year! Back in 1970, an American politician named Gaylord Nelson wanted to harness the energy of youth activism to bring attention to environmental issues. That year, 20 million Americans (10% of the total population) took part in marches, rallies, and learning sessions, and their collective voices and the connections made from that first Earth Day led to important environmental legislation in the US, including the creation of the Environmental Protection Agency, and the passage of the Clean Air, Clean Water, and Endangered Species Acts within three years.

Today, Earth Day is a global event that has gone digital! You can learn more and find lots more ideas of how to get involved at And, of course, we have a Fresh Five things you can do to celebrate this beautiful planet we call home.

 Dress Your Veggies

A friend of mine asked people to share what they had way too much of in their pantry that they didn’t know what to do with, and someone said “Nutritional Yeast!” So I just had to share our Fresh Roots Famous Salad Dressing. We use it to make our farm-fresh salads irresistible – we have to cut kids off at 5 plates of kale salad, it’s that good! If you, too, have a supply of nutritional yeast in your pantry and aren’t sure what to do with it other than put it on popcorn, here’s an awesome solution. It’s great on salad, steamed or roasted vegetables, grains, and more.

What does this have to do with Earth Day, you ask? Well, when we make veggies delicious, kids (and parents) will choose to eat more of them. That’s not only good for your body, it’s good for the planet too. Animal agriculture is one of the biggest contributors to climate change globally, so choosing plant-based foods more often reduces your carbon footprint. And if you can get your veggies from a local farmer, or your own garden plot, that’s even better!

Fresh Roots Famous Salad Dressing


Learn About Food & Climate

Raising animals isn’t the only part of our food system that’s connected to our warming climate. From farming to processing to packaging to waste, every part of out food system has impacts on the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. This interactive learning resource from the Center for Ecoliteracy is a deep dive into the topic for middle and high school students, or anyone curious about the food system. And don’t worry – it’s not all bad news! You’ll discover lots of ways the people are making change for good in their communities and beyond.

Understating Food and Climate Change


Discover Backyard Nature

What better way to honor Earth Day than to learn about some of the other living things that make their homes here? Seek is a kid-safe mobile app created by the iNaturalist folks. Just point the app’s camera at a plant, bug, bird, mushroom, or other living things and the app will tell you all about it! Plus, you can earn badges and participate in challenges. There’s no registration required, and all location data collected is obscured to protect privacy. Happy Searching!

Find the Seek App


Make Veggie Art

If you have some fruits or veggies that have been in the fridge just a little too long, Veggie Printing is a fun way to repurpose them! Not only is it a good thing to do with that limp celery, potato that’s started growing, or the bits of your veg that aren’t going to make it into soup, it’s also a great way for kids to play with their food. When kids are encouraged to use all their senses to get to explore a carrot or asparagus in a stress-free way, they can develop a greater appreciation for them, which in turn makes them more likely to eat those vegetables. And if you’re wondering what to do with those veggie prints, may I suggest making an Earth Day card or banner to hang in your window?

Veggie Print Activity Guide

Sing Along with Eco Jams

What better way to wrap up a list of ways to honour the Earth than with an Earth-themed concert you can sing and dance along to from the comfort of your living room? As a grad student, I had the privilege to have singer, songwriter, social worker, and educator Joe Reilly join my outdoor school program for an Artist-in-Residence week. He worked with the kids to write songs, and led us all in a concert that was just the best. As his website says, “The core of his message is an invitation to heal our relationships with our selves, with each other, and with the earth.” His songs full of science facts, silliness, so much joy, and a ton of heart. He’s live streaming throughout the week on his Facebook page, or you can check out a recorded live stream here.

Joe Reilly Earth Week Non-Tour

May you love the Earth and all the life she sustains,



Fresh Five Week 2: Celebrate Spring!

This week we got to see the the first full moon of Spring, and it was gorgeous! I hope you got to see it rising as the sun was setting. Many First Nations have traditional names for each of the 13 full moons of the year. The W̱SÁNEĆ (Saanich) name for this month’s full moon is Pexsisen, the Moon of the Opening Hands or the Blossoming Out Moon, which reflects both the blossoming of flowers and budding of trees, and the open hand gesture of gratitude.

(Learn more about all the W̱SÁNEĆ moons.)

The full moon also heralds a number of religious holidays and cultural spring festivals, including Passover, which starts April 8th, and Easter on April 12. Only a couple of weeks ago, people were celebrating the Spring Equinox, Nowruz, and Ostara, with Holi shortly before that. This year, Ramadan will start on April 23. And we’re right in Cherry Blossom season, as the trees at David Thompson are showing!

While there may be lots of different ways people celebrate this time of year, most of them involve gathering with family and community, and sharing food. This week’s Fresh Five are all about ways we can connect to our communities, make things to share, and have fun! Our gatherings may need to be more digital this year, but I hope everyone finds a way to celebrate the warmth, beauty, and blooming welcome of spring.

Explore Your Spring Traditions

At Fresh Roots, we think everyone should have healthy food, land, and communities, and one of the ways we strengthen our communities is through traditions! Whether your spring celebrations center around a religious holiday, a natural phenomenon, or a special calendar date, talking to your elders about where those traditions come from is a great way to build relationships.
Exploring Spring Traditions Activity Guide


Make Dandelion Fritters

Flowers and food are important parts of lots of spring traditions! We thought we’d bring these two things together with this simple and simply yummy recipe for Dandelion Fritters. Dandelions are amazing plants – the leaves, roots, and flowers are all edible, and they are an amazing food source for our early season pollinators, including bumblebees!
Dandelion Fritters Recipe


Write a Cherry Blossom Haiku

I was fortunate to get out to David Thompson for an afternoon this week. We have two beautiful flowering cherries right near the entrance to the farm, and they were in their full glory. Cherry blossom season is only a few weeks long, and different cherries bloom at different times. You can learn more about what’s blooming in Vancouver at the Vancouver Cherry Blossom Festival’s Blooming Now page. What kinds of trees are blooming in your neighborhood?

Feeling inspired by all these blossoming beauties? Write a haiku and submit it to the Haiku Invitational!
Cherry Blossom Haiku Invitational


Dye Eggs with Plants

Decorating eggs is part of a number of spring celebrations, including Nowruz and Easter, probably because eggs are such a universal symbol for new life, and because chickens start to lay more eggs in the spring, so there’s plenty to go around. Didn’t get a dye kit from the store, or just looking for a more natural route? You can use things you might already have in your kitchen to make beautiful eggs! The ones in the picture were dyed with red cabbage, and left to soak for a few hours in the fridge. They were such a beautiful color!
Dye Eggs with Plants

Plant a Kitchen Window Garden

On the farm, we love to celebrate spring by planting seeds! You can celebrate with us by planting seeds in your garden, or even in a repurposed container on your windowsill. Our friends at Growing Chefs have a great video lesson all about soil and how to plant your windowsill garden. Subscribe to their YouTube channel for more great gardening and cooking lessons you can do at home!
Windowsill Garden Lesson

Happy Spring, everyone!



Fresh Five Ideas for At Home Learning #1

Welcome to the first edition of the Fresh Five!

Hey there, friends. This is Kat, your friendly local Experiential Learning Manager.

Wow, this is a different learning environment than we were expecting to be in this spring. I’m frankly devastated not to have you on the farms for the time being. But it’s been so deeply beautiful to see how educators all over the world are stepping up to meet this challenge. There are so many activities, digital resources, free concerts, Zoom webinars, and educational websites out there, and more coming everyday!

While all those resources are so great, I know it can be hard to sort through everything that’s coming across your email and social media feeds to find the things your kids will love (especially while you’re trying to parent your kids at home, or teach your kids who are now in 25 different homes). But never fear! The Fresh Five is here to help!

Each week, we will be sharing five of our favorite ideas for at home learning around the things Fresh Roots is known for: food and food systems, ecological stewardship, and community celebration. Some of the activities, like this week’s Super Seeds lesson are pulled from our collection of farm and classroom programming, and have been adapted for home learning. Others are recommendations from our partners and friends in the world of farming, food, and environmental education.  If you have an activity you’d love to see featured, drop an email to and let us know!

We’ll be posting them here on our blog (you can bookmark to always find the latest Five), and sharing them on our Facebook,  Instagram and Twitter feeds. We’ll also be posting regular photos and videos from the farm on social media, so follow us to keep up on all the breaking veggie news!

OK, that’s enough intro. Here’s this week’s Fresh Five!

Carrot Fries

Every week at Camp Fresh Roots, our campers work together to make lunch for the whole camp. One of last summer’s hit recipes were these Carrot Fries with Lime Crema, which we served with homemade veggie burgers. It’s a great way to use that 5-lb bag of carrots you bought, and is super kid-friendly, both to make and eat. At camp, we’ll have an adult cut the carrots in half lengthwise so there’s a flat edge for them to sit on, then the kids cut them into quarters! (Oh, and camp registrations are still open!)
Carrot Fries Recipe


Signs of Spring-O Neighborhood Bingo

Are your kids (and, let’s be honest, you) getting tired of walking around the same 5 blocks over and over again as you try to get some fresh air and gentle exercise during these days of physical distancing? Print out this Neighborhood Bingo sheet! Look at your local environment in a whole new way as you notice how spring is blooming all around us.
Spring-O Bingo Card


Food and Farmworkers

I’m a podcast person. I have about 30 different podcasts that update regularly in my feed, on topics from food to mythology to history to linguistics. So when I heard a recent episode of the US-based economics podcast Planet Money about how COVID-19 is impacting American farm workers, I wanted to share it. This is a complex topic, touching on issues of food security, labour rights (or lack thereof), public health, and yes, econ. It’s sure to spark discussions, so we’ve made a bit of framing for it. I recommend listening with your older student and discussing it together. (And in case you’re wondering, Fresh Roots farmworkers are mostly local university students, and pay starts at $15.50/hour.)
Food and Farmworkers Activity Guide


Super Seeds!

One of our most popular classroom workshops is Super Seeds! And now you can try it for yourself! We’ve adapted our workshop curriculum to be done at your kitchen table, with just things you probably have on hand. If you have or can find Lima beans, I recommend them for this, as they are both very large (so it’s easy to see what’s in them), and the skins are relatively thin, so they are easy to peel.
Super Seed Activity Guide


Recycled Garden Gnome

The Whole Kids Foundation, one of Fresh Roots’ generous funders, has a collection of fun activities for kids and families. We thought this Garden Gnome was just super cute and we had to include it in this week’s collection. If you don’t have acrylic paint, or metal fasteners at home, get creative!  What else could you use to decorate your Gnome?
Garden Gnome Craft Sheet

That’s all for this week! May you plant love and peas, and be well.