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My Time at Fresh Roots: A Guest Blog Post by Experiential Learning Volunteer Michèle

I came to Canada from Switzerland to improve my English and to learn some parts of Canadian culture. I thought it would be a great experience to link my personal goals with helping people or kids in some way, and this was the reason why the organisation Fresh Roots caught my eye. From the beginning, I was interested in their mission and wanted to support them to accomplish their vision.

My volunteer time at Fresh Roots started on the farm with a lot of field trips. My first field trip was a little disaster. My vocabulary wasn’t adapted to the topic “farm” and I also didn’t have the skills to do farm work.

As time went by, it got easier for me and I felt more comfortable educating the kids about the farm. Thanks to Kat, Fresh Roots’ Experiential Learning Manager, I learned a lot about growing plants and how to handle them in different seasons.

At the beginning of each field trip, we always took a tour around the farm to observe the plants that are growing this season. With all five senses, we discovered the farm together, all the vegetables and herbs.

I was often responsible for making salad with the kids. For creating salad, we had to harvest some vegetables like turnips, carrots or kale. Harvesting was always the most exciting part for the kids because they felt like real farmers in action. Before we could put everything in the salad, we had to wash and prepare it. Every child added something to finish the salad, which we ate at the end of the field trip. As you know, some kids love salad and some kids hate it. Our goal on the field trips was to invite them to take an adventure bite from our own created salad and perhaps this bite would change their opinion. After they harvested it and prepared it and washed it, they were often proud of themselves, and ate it and enjoyed it!

At Fresh Roots, I had an amazing and funny time all along the way. No day was ever the same. I also learned a lot, mostly about the farm and the farm work, but also about the culture, the education system, and speaking in and listening to English. Fresh Roots strengthened my opinion about food literacy—that it should be an obligatory topic in a primary school. On the grounds of my great experiences here with school children on a farm, I’ll create a little school farm at my school in Switzerland to help teach food literacy to my own class.

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Farm to School Month? More like School to FARM month!

October is Farm to School month, you say?  October is School to FARM month for Fresh Roots!

This fall, nearly 600 students will come on a field trip to our Vancouver Schoolyard Farms. We know that not every student learns best inside a classroom, and our field trips give students of all ages a chance to get dirty, taste delicious food, participate in the life of the farm, and make lifelong memories. By connecting our programs with BC Curriculum Big Ideas, we support learning in the classroom as well as on our farm.

Read on to see examples of what learning on the farm looks like, and get a taste of a Fresh Roots Field Trip.

Games

Whether growing from a sleepy seed to a juicy fruit like these kindergartners, becoming water trying to squeeze through soil, or buzzing like a bee searching for nectar and pollen, active, imagination-driven games engage kids’ bodies and brains. Plus, we all learn better when we’re having fun!

Storytelling

An apple becomes the globe as we share the story of soil on earth. A picture book shows us how alike we are, even if we seem different at first. We write the story of rain and flowers, like this one. “The raindrop fell on a sad looking sunflower and cheered it up. Now this flower is the prettiest flower of all.”

Farm Work

Kids love the chance to participate in meaningful work, especially when big tools are involved! Farm work, like planting, weeding, mulching, or even just digging, also lets kids take appropriate risks, make choices, and work together as a team to accomplish a goal.

Making Salad

When kids participate in making healthy foods, they eat healthy foods, and when you pull the carrots from the ground yourself, they are all the sweeter. Wanna know our secret for getting kids to eat kale? It’s all in the sauce!

Reflection

When we take the time to think, write, and talk about our experiences on the farm, we help put learning into context, solidify our memories, and create bridges to other experiences.

There’s so much more that happens on a Fresh Roots field trip! Our Vancouver farms host school-year field trips weekdays in September, October, April, May and June. Won’t you join us?

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6th Annual East Van Press Fest

Come one, come all to this FREE event whose only purpose is to bring people together to make apple cider. This is a BYOJ event, so please bring your own jar and cup for hot cider, so you can take some home.

Where: Vantech Secondary Schoolyard Market Garden (Map)

When: Sunday October 14, 12 – 4pm

RSVP: Facebook

We’ll help you learn about the full process of apple cider (that’s the same as apple juice, but unfiltered and no sugar added), and for you to help make your own apple cider.

Enjoy cider, local music, socializing, and did we mention cider!

The World’s Saddest Blog Post

With the changing of the seasons comes the changing of our staff, as most of our summer students head back to university. We’d like to take this opportunity to say TTFN (ta ta for now) to some of our Vancouver team, and read on for a special goodbye from one of our longtime Fresh Roots family members, Rosalind Sadowski, Youth Empowerment Manager.

The Experiential Learning Team is saying a fond farewell to three great summer staff. Jauna (aka “Gummybear”) has been a ray of sunshine on our Camp Fresh Roots staff since July. Heidi (aka “Tote”), has done an amazing job making sure we all have what we need, where we need it, since May. And Anna (aka “Worm”), has been with us since January, first as an EL intern helping run field trips, and then helping to plan and run our first-ever summer day camp! It has been such a joy to watch them grow as educators, and see the fun they’ve created for our campers and field trippers. We wish them the best of luck as they return to school and wherever else life takes them.

This summer, we welcomed two members of our original 2016 SOYL crew back as program facilitators! Nicole and Amanda returned to help lead the program, and brought a wealth of creativity, enthusiasm, dedication, and innovation to our group! They are moving on to continue their university studies this fall, and their positive energy and passion for the SOYL program will be sorely missed!

Rosalind Sadowski

And here is a little goodbye from Ros, our Youth Empowerment Manager:
“I am sad to say I will be moving on from my role with Fresh Roots as I pursue my teaching certification at UBC. It has been an absolute pleasure working with this community over the past years, and I thank you for your part in helping youth grow themselves through growing good food. I hope to connect in some other capacity in the future!”

And here’s our goodbye to Ros:
It’s with sadness, and excitement, that we bid farewell to Rosalind Sadowski, our Youth Empowerment Manager. Ros helped to grow the new iteration of the SOYL program, helping cultivate cohorts of youth out on the farm and in the kitchen. Ros, you will be missed, and we’re excited to see how you can help support more youth at schools.

As we say goodbye to these friends, we’re looking forward to making some new ones! Speaking of Youth Empowerment Managers… if you’d like to have just as much fun as Ros and also make a huge impact, you can apply to become our new Youth Empowerment Manager!

Seed Saving is Rad

Seed saving is rad and I mean that in the literal sense of radical, meaning something that relates to the fundamental nature of a thing. Seed saving is the act of collecting seeds, a plant’s reproductive material, directly from the plant as opposed to buying or procuring the seeds elsewhere. Last week I was collecting sweet pea seeds and I was reminded of how seed saving reconnects us to the fundamental nature of plants. It reminds me of the intelligent design of plants and the fact that plants can reproduce without human intervention.

My seed collection including seeds saved by hand, store bought seeds, and farm bought seeds.

Now, I’ll be frank, seed saving is no easy task. There are many steps to the process and oftentimes I find myself wondering if it is worth the the 4$ most packets of seeds cost. The process is different for fruits and for vegetables because one of the defining characteristics of fruits is that the seeds are collected from the fruit itself whereas for vegetables the seeds are collected from the plant from which the vegetable is harvested. For example, for apples the seeds must be taken from the core of the apple and left to dry whereas to harvest kale seeds, the plant from which the kale is cut must be left to flower and then from the flowers of the plant the seeds are collected. Depending on the priorities of the gardener, seed saving may or may not be cost-effective, however the power in seed saving is not necessarily saving money. The power of the act is experiencing the full life cycle of a plant and understand that it occurs independently of us even though we have inserted ourselves in the lifecycle of the plants we consume. This is yet another way we can understand where our food comes from.

 

Collecting seeds from the plant is an important reminder that like vegetables, seeds do not come from the store, but from the plant itself. The fundamental nature of plants is that they are completely independent. Photosynthesis allows them to produce their own food and sustain themselves from the beginning and although we may help them along the way sometimes by weeding around them or giving them a little extra water, seed-saving is a good reminder of the fundamental independence of plants.

Fireweed Seeds

Suwalkh’s Freshroots Garden At PoCo Farmers Market.

Suwa’lkh students will be at the PoCo Farmers market on August 23rd bringing awareness to our program! We will be selling our produce and native plants set up for the community. Here at Suwalkh we have been focusing on growing fresh produce for the community. We have been Teaching youth healthy eating, life style, learning about native plants and forest restoration. Our goal is to provide fresh food for all and establishing and intertwining communities. Suwa’lkh is an Alternative Indigenous school, with a half acre garden that was started by Freshroots. At Suwa’lkh we have been growing produce and medicinal plant like Tobacco, Thimble berry, Salal berry, White sage and much more!

The PoCo Farmers Market promotes awareness and appreciation for farm fresh produce and local eating, which supports the economy and increases the capacity of small businesses and non-profit organizations in the community. Suwa’lkh is grateful for PoCo Farmers Market for letting us set up a booth. Feel free to come stop buy August 23rd to see what we are all about here at Suwa’lkh.

 

Suwalkh’s Freshroots Garden

Here at Suwalkh Fresh Roots Gardens, our youth have been working hard to maintain the farm: harvesting vegetables, making beds, and much more. Our little team at Suwalkh has come along way since the beginning of the summer, we are excited to see this Garden thrive! We have been learning lots about healthy eating, gardening, and life styles. As well as forest restoration in our Suwalkh Earth Healing Spirit Forest, pulling out invasive plants. We can’t wait to see how much we have accomplished by the end of the program!

The last month and a half, we have been working in the garden building beds and making spaces to grow more! The youth have also been painting signs for our garden! We have Broccoli, Beets, Swiss chard, Tomatoes, Buk choy, Potatoes, Garlic, Peppers, Lettuce and much more! We’ve recently seeded white sage and big lupin. Carrie Clark also taught us how to harvest tobacco and dry it out for ceremonial purpose.

In the Suwalkh Earth Healing Spirit Forest we have been learning about invasive plants such as Japanese Knot Weed, English Holly, English Ivy and English Laurel. Every day the youths work in the forest pulling out these invasive plants! The Forest is Suwalkh’s outdoor education class room. We will be having science class in the forest and on beautiful days we sit out there to do our school work!

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Fred Lee’s Social Network: Rooted in Goodness

Fred Lee’s Social Network: Rooted in Goodness

by Fred Lee

Last year’s Fresh Roots inaugural long table dinner was held inside the hallways of David Thompson Secondary School due to inclement weather. This year, Mother Nature cooperated and the sophomore schoolyard Harvest Party was successfully staged outside on dry land next to its education farm — a school market garden. A fortunate 140 guests snapped up tickets to the sold-out fundraising dinner in support of the non-profit’s effort to grow community through good food.

Sprouted in 2009, Fresh Roots founders Ilana Labow, Gray Oron and Marc Schutzbank greeted attendees to the multi-course family-style feast curated by chefs Karima Chellouf and Kym Nguyen, incorporating ingredients sourced from schoolyard farms. Fresh Roots manages four edible educational gardens on school property in the Vancouver, Delta and Coquitlam School Districts. Through experiential learning, students get to appreciate the full cycle of how their food arrives on their table and gain an appreciation of good food.

This year’s al fresco dinner benefited Fresh Roots SOYL initiative, an innovative seven-week summer leadership and empowerment program. High school students tend to and cultivate the ½ acre schoolyard farm; develop skills in growing, cooking and selling the fruits of their labour at farmers markets. Through their time with SOYL, students develop a greater connection to themselves, their community and their local food system, says Schutzbank. Proceeds from the outdoor garden party will employ fifty summer students in the SOYL program next year.


Fresh Roots co-founder Marc Schutzbank and youth empowerment manager Rosalind Sadowski fronted the second annual Schoolyard Harvest Party. Fred Lee / PNG


David Thompson Secondary alumni Winnie Kwan, former SOYL student participant turned program coordinator, and Ilana Labow, co-founder of Fresh Roots, welcomed 140 guests to the schoolyard long table fundraising dinner. Fred Lee / PNG


Christine Weston, farm manager, and Gray Oron, Fresh Roots co-founder, has seen their year-round program grow. Fresh Roots now manages four edible educational gardens on school property in the Vancouver, Delta and Coquitlam School Districts. Fred Lee / PNG


UBC Land Food Systems Dean Ricky Yada and Assistant Dean Tracey London took in the alfresco family style dinner at David Thompson Secondary School in East Vancouver. Fred Lee / PNG


Scotiabank’s senior brass Sandra Boyce and Larry Clements came out to the schoolyard farm to enjoy a memorable meal and learn more of the Fresh Roots program. Fred Lee / PNG

For the full article: https://theprovince.com/opinion/columnists/fred-lees-social-network-rooted-in-goodness