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Announcing DELTA Farm Roots CSA Veggie Box brought to you by Fresh Roots

We are excited to share that we will be offering a 12 – week CSA Veggie Box in DELTA this summer! Our new Delta Field Lead, Jack (back from his role as last year’s Market Lead), is spreading compost and starting & planting seeds getting the Farm Roots schoolyard farm ready to share delicious ultra-locally grown produce with folks in the Delta area.

Cost
Each week, you’ll receive an average of $22.50 worth of veggies. (12 weeks x $22.5/week = $270)

Pickup Hours
2 pm-6:00 pm (passive pick up until 6:30 pm) every Wednesday from June 17th -September 2nd

Location
Farm Roots Mini School, Delta, BC 

SIGN UP!

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Announcing! EARTH DAY SEEDING CHANGE 2021 – APRIL 1ST – 22nd, 2021

This April we’re excited to partner with local organizations Kiwassa Neighbourhood House and local artist Amanda Suutari to launch the social media campaign #EarthDaySeedingChange2021!  

Starting April 1st, when you post your inspired actions to protect the planet you’ll be entered into our Earth Day draw to win locally- produced, planet-friendly prizes, including fine art prints, printed journals, along with other gifts donated by local businesses.    

Our goal is to ignite our sense of collective power to make a difference during these times of isolation.  #EarthdaySeedingChange2021 is about inspiring each other with all the creative ways we can care for the Earth.  Actions are like planting seeds – they contain their own life force, and can take root and grow in places we might least expect. 

How to participate: 

  • Take an inspired action between April 1st and Earth Day, April 22nd (see examples of actions below).  
  • Post a photo and caption of yourself taking the action on either our Facebook page or Instagram/Twitter with the hashtag #earthdayseedingchange2021 to enter a draw*.  
  • You’ll be able to check out the photo gallery of posts between April 1st and Earth Day by visiting this page:  
  • Randomly-selected winners will be announced on Earth Day (April 22nd).  
  • Prizes will include colourful, sustainably-printed art prints, journals, and postcards donated by local artist Amanda Suutari (printed by Hemlock Printers, one of the most progressive and sustainable print providers in North America), as well as random green-leaning goodies from local businesses (TBA).  
  • You get to feel awesome about taking action, feel inspired watching the gallery on this page fill up with images, and get some new ideas about how you can live a more Earth-friendly existence!   

What kind of actions?  Some examples:

  • Picking up plastic from a beach or forest
  • Planting pollinator wildflowers on your lawn or roadside (West Coast Seeds has some great pollinator mixes)
  • Collecting coffee grounds from your local cafe to add to your compost
  • Going plastic-free for a day (or longer!) 
  • Making a phone call or writing a letter to a local MP about an environmental concern such as old-growth logging
  • Patching or altering an old garment to extend it’s life
  • Making a donation to a local indigenous, environmental, or local food organization 
  • Download this list of actions for more ideas 

 

Prizes:  

Fine Art Prints:  One of a selection of fine art prints, journals or hemp postcards by Amanda Suutari featuring these images:

Breathe

Frog at Night

Eye Pods

Spring Medicine

Pollinator

+ other earth-friendly gifts by local organizations (names TBA).

*for winners outside the Lower Mainland, shipping costs apply.  

 
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Tea Garden Build! – Experiential Learning Report

Tea Garden Build!

by Mia Fajeau, Youth Program Facilitator

Did you know that many of the plants and flowers that you might spot in your garden or around your neighbourhood, like Dandelion or Wild Chamomile (aka Pineapple Weed), can be steeped to make your very own teas? I’ve always enjoyed a warm cup of tea as a calming and cozy drink during rainy Vancouver winters, and really enjoy adding my own ingredients to try new flavours, soothe my stomach, or wind myself down after a big day! So, when asked to design a planter for the learning circle at the David Thompson farm, I was excited to create a space for students to discover different edible plants that they can use in their very own teas.

The idea was to create a space that can be used during camps and field trips for students to dig around in, do farm work, and to connect with the plants around them. The tea garden can be used as an educational tool to learn about the different edible parts of plants as well as to learn about and identify native plants. The planter design is called a keyhole planter, with a circular entrance at one end into the center. This shape provides easy access to the center of the garden, making it easier to plant, tend and harvest all of the plants.

We are really excited to grow plants and flowers that can be used for teas in this space because teas are a great way to experience plants’ different medicinal properties, and they just taste really yummy! Making tea on cold and rainy camp or field trip days is also a great way to help students warm-up and keep their energy high. Because so many different parts of the plant are used when making teas, a tea garden provides a great learning experience about the functions of different plant parts. It also provides an opportunity for students to get creative and make their own mixtures based on their personal taste preferences. Some of the plants that will be featured in this garden include chamomile, sage, fringecup, and pearly everlasting, the latter three of which are native to the region now known as British Columbia.

The tea garden is ready for planting – a big THANK YOU to the SOYL team who worked hard to lay down the bricks and fill the planter up with compost this past Spring Break!

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Farmer’s Log, Start-date, April 1, 2021

Oh, March. Another month of prep before the busy season comes on. The idea is that the better we prepare, the smoother the tomato volcano will be… but I’m sure many-a-farmer will argue that there’s simply no way to prepare for a vegetable glut in the heat of summer. 

There were a couple of things about my job that I fell in love with this month. First is the SOYL youth alumni who joined us for Spring Break:

  • At Van Tech they tended to the sensory garden after amending our entire growing space. 
  • At David Thompson, they planted cold-hardy seeds in the learning beds, built a new bed for a ‘tea garden’ in the outdoor classroom, helped us seed in the greenhouse, and drilled together a frame for a bed in the courtyard.
  • They also collected observational data on our overwintered chard to determine what might have led some plants to survive the cold while others died (conclusion: the healthier plants had more leaves to insulate them from the cold so they survived).
  • SOYL hands distributed about 20 yards of compost over two sites, which is an incredible help for Fresh Roots farmers. Their ingenuity in observations and energy tackling the huge piles of compost left me inspired. So many great problem-solving skills were applied in the building projects, too. What a delight!

My other new love is Fresh Roots’ greenhouse. Jack, Fresh Roots Delta farm lead, and I spent many hours there this month, seeding for our Vancouver locations as well as our new farm project out in Delta, a partnership with Farm Roots. We listened to co-op radio (what an awesome mishmash of music and personalities) while we sprinkled seeds and love into every cell. Even on bitter cold days, the greenhouse is nice and cozy, especially nestled in the courtyard at David Thompson Secondary. In this little oasis, the resident hummingbird screams its electric Tarzan call atop the huge magnolia tree and there are a couple of ravens that visit, often circled by angry crows. Sometimes it’s hard to believe that this space is in the middle of the city.

-Farmer Camille

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Norquay Field House – A Year in Review!

As we mark the dubious 1 year anniversary of the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown we can’t help but celebrate the accomplishments made possible through our residency at the Norquay Field House. With the support of the Vancouver Parks Board and the Field House Project, we have supported food literacy and food access for kids, youth, and the community at Norquay and across Vancouver. In 2019 we served 17,928 nutritious meals and engaged with 6,354 kids and youth through 34,616 program hours. In 2020 we served 73,653 nutritious meals and supported 2,650 kids and youth through 20,055 program hours.

Some of the highlights from this past year are:

  • Norquay Park Food Sharing Garden – We tend a sharing garden where we engage with community members throughout the growing season. We speak to people about plants, share stories and invite them to harvest vegetables on their own!

 

  • Apple Cider Press Day – In 2020 we held this modified annual event with volunteers from the Bosa Foundation preparing and pressing 700 pounds of apples into 35 gallons of juice. We showed many community members how cider pressing works and gave out ginger gold apples generously donated by BC Tree Fruits to take home!

 

  • SOYL Program – We host over 35 high school youth each year who learn how to grow, cook, and share food.  Youth are referred to the program through social service providers and counselors and, through the program, build lifelong skills in confidence, friendship, and leadership. Learn more about SOYL (Sustainable Opportunities for Youth Leadership) here.

  • Schoolyard Harvest Dinner *At Home Edition* – Fresh Roots annual fundraising dinner virtually broadcasted live from Norquay Field House. We hosted 190 virtual participants online with 35 staff and a cooking demo safely hosted by chefs in-person.

  • And last but not least! Right before lockdown before we knew we wouldn’t be back in the field house for a while, Alexa  Fresh Roots Executive Director, then Interim Executive Director got a chance to prepare Fresh Roots’ famous salad dressing for the first time! We hope to be back in the field house preparing and eating food, laughing, learning and enjoying time spent together with our community.

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How Do You Connect with Nature?

As I write this, Vancouver has snow on the ground, and where I’m staying right now in Tacoma, Washington we had snow yesterday. But spring is basically here, and if you look closely you can see it all around. I’ve been watching the leaf buds on the hydrangea outside my window swelling for a few weeks now, and just in the last day they’ve started to open up. The leaf buds on the Japanese maple and the neighbor’s plum tree are big enough to be visible from a distance. It’s not just the plants that are telling me spring is here. I’m very much not a morning person, but for the last few days I’ve been waking up before my alarm because there is light coming into my room before 7:00, and sunset isn’t until nearly 6:00 here these days.

We hear about connecting with nature, and how great that is for our physical and mental health, but how do you do that

  • The first, and arguably most important step, is just to notice. Look, feel, smell what’s around you. There is nowhere in the world that isn’t part of nature, so it doesn’t matter if you’re deep in the wilderness or at the top of a skyscraper. We’re all affected by the sun, wind, and rain; we all breathe the air around us.
  • The second step is to remember, so you can compare what is happening over time. Writing down your thoughts and observations in a nature journal is one great way to do this. Because I’m terrible at remembering to remember, I have a journaling app that prompts me each evening to jot down what I remember about the day, like the crocuses I saw while walking the dog, or the hummingbird that flashed his magenta throat at me. I’ve also been taking pictures from my home office window and posting them on my social media daily-ish (very -ish). It’s been a great way for me to document visually and share with others. Low tech solutions like a paper journal, or just a daily “noticing nature” check in with a family member or friend are also great!

As you get into the habit of noticing, and remembering what you notice, you can cultivate your sense of curiosity and wonderment. Resist the urge to google everything – with a little patience, the world around you may just answer your questions for you, and sitting with mystery is a wonderful practice. Today, I’m wondering how long it will take for the hydrangea to fully leaf out, and if the plum will bloom before I head home to Vancouver. I’m also wondering what the hawk that was circling the neighborhood this morning was looking for, and if it found it, and where the little birds go when it gets really windy. Maybe I’ll find the answers, maybe I won’t, but they will keep me noticing to help find the answers!

Happy Connecting!

 

-Kat, Experiential Learning Manager

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Farmer’s Log, Start-Date: March 1st, 2021

Hello and welcome to the Farm Team’s very first blog post of 2021! My name is Camille and I’m the new Farm Manager for the Good Food program here at Fresh Roots. I come from a  Deaf Family (Deaf parents, hearing kids) of mostly white European settler descent. Growing up on a large piece of land in what’s now known as South Surrey, the Indigenous land of the Semiahmoo, Katzie, Kwikwetlem, Kwantlen, Qayqayt, and Tsawwassen First Nations, I was afforded the privilege of tending the soil and growing food with my family. This was where my passion for vegetables was ignited and it continued down paths of wildcrafting, permaculture, and urban farming to where I am now, here at Fresh Roots. 

 A few fun facts about me:

  • my first language is American Sign Language
  • I am obsessed with wild mushrooms
  • I have a Bachelor’s Degree in Critical Theory and Critical Studies in Sexuality. 

My combined education and experience leads to interests at the intersection of everything, like how the ‘local’ food movement can serve to simultaneously feed and exclude marginalized communities – and how breaking bread can bind us together. 

Similar to most Farmers in our region, February was a month of planning at Fresh Roots in addition to a whack of orientation for this noob to the organization. I had lots of introductions to people, programming, and technology that I never knew existed. I’ve been pouring over documents and making seed orders, planning compost deliveries, and scouring resumes to hire folks for our seasonally expanding  Farm Team. I am so excited to bring all of this planning to life. Just like a little garlic sprout, these ideas will transform into something lusciously green and delicious, and I can’t wait to share it with you. 

Looking forward, we’ve got lots of stuff germinating. I just received our first seed order from Johnny’s and even got a couple of seed trays started with the help of our Program Manager, Galen. Seeding is kind of like making perogies – put on some good music, set up the trays, get a flow going, and you’re in the zone. I like to imagine all the energy in the room going into every ‘plop’ of a seed. What were Galen and I talking about and how will those words be brought to life by these plants that will emerge? I don’t care if this seems hippy-dippy. It feels good to set the scene for intention and growth in a holistic way. Other things featured this month: an epic, steamy, slippery compost dump; approximately one million zoom meetings; a gigantic, online group interview for our summer staff; and… snow (what!?).  

In March you’ll hear more from me through social media and the second Monthly Farm Report, and by June CSA Veggie Box members will be reading my weekly fresh sheet updates. Soon enough, I hope you’ll all be eating the food the Farm Team has collaboratively created. Can you taste those sweet Hakurei Turnips, yet?

-Farmer Camille

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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.

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“Did you eat yet?” A Lunar New Year Reflection

By Vivian Cheung, Fresh Roots Operations Coordinator

As a Canadian-born Chinese, I grew up learning to communicate through culturally diverse lenses. Not only did I get immersed in weekly Saturday morning Mandarin classes, but I also was exposed to the important language of food.

On both a technical and cultural level, Chinese is a language and a people of rich symbols and hidden meanings. A single character is more than just a phonetic letter, but has multiple layers of history and stories that get amplified as you bring more characters into the discourse. The same could be said about people’s interactions. The phrase “吃飯了嗎?” which loosely translates to “Did you eat yet?” is more than just a literal inquiry about dinner. If a parent asks this to their child, it implicitly displays a deep concern and readiness to care for their well-being – mostly commonly referred to as the Asian code for “I love you”.

As we ring in the new year, I reflect on how food plays a huge role in communicating how we in the Chinese community symbolically celebrate and how eating together speaks louder than our seemingly average table conversations. For instance, what we eat during new year takes on a persona of its own, often through our clever mastery of homophonic puns and visual storytelling:

  • Rice Cakes (年糕) sounds like ‘year high’ (年高), hoping for the recipient will have a greater, more prosperous year than the last, or for children to grow taller
  • Oranges/Tangerines (橙/桔) sounds like ‘to succeed/be lucky’ (成/吉) and the bright colour symbolizes gold to represent good fortune
  • Dumplings (饺子) sound like ‘exchange midnight’ (交子), so eating them is like saying ‘out with old and in with the new’; they also look like ancient Chinese currency, symbolizing wealth in the new year
  • Fish (魚) sounds like ‘extra/surplus’ (余), which can be combined to make phrases, such as wishing the new year will have more than they need (年年有余)
  • Noodles symbolize long life due to their long length and should not be cut

Most importantly, the act of coming together over food is the pinnacle of Chinese celebrations, with new years as the most important family dinner. Especially during times like these when gatherings are restricted, it is a reminder that we are in this together as a family, this past year and many to come. It is more than just a dinner; it is a declaration of love and care as we share and delight in each other’s company – the ultimate “Did you eat yet?”.

Regardless of who you are and where you come from, I invite you to feast on the Lunar New Year festivities this week, including the current exhibit at the Chinese Canadian Museum:

https://www.chinesecanadianmuseum.ca/ 

More LNY online events to check out:

https://www.richmond-news.com/in-the-community/lunar-new-year-richmond-events-for-the-year-of-the-ox-3355814 

From our families at Fresh Roots to yours, 新年快樂 (Happy New Year)!

恭喜發財 (Wishing you prosperity)!

Vivian