Scout List Vol. 571 | Scout Magazine- Help

Scout List Vol. 571

By Michelle Sproule | October 15th, 2020

HELP | Like the idea of mucking about outside on a schoolyard farm? Fresh Roots schoolyard market farm is looking for volunteers to help with a variety of farm tasks including weeding, moving compost, and spreading wood chips to help protect gardens for the winter. A little fresh air, some elbow grease, and a dose of community spirit — sounds like a good way to get grounded! There are three volunteer workdays this month. In order to manage numbers to meet with social distancing protocols, volunteers are asked to register in advance. You can do that here.


BC Election- it’s time to #NourishKidsNow 🥒 🥪 🍅

The week after Thanksgiving seems like the perfect moment to think about the status of food security in BC and Canada.
One way to address food insecurity is to support a national cost-shared, universal healthy school food program.
  • Did you know Canada is the ONLY G7 nation without any form of universal school meal program?
For the past several years, organizations and individuals have come together through the Coalition for Healthy School Food to advocate for a cost-shared, universal healthy school food program in Canada.
With the upcoming election in BC, we have the opportunity to continue to ask MLA candidates to commit to #NourishKidsNow and invest in #BCSchoolFood to make sure all students have daily access to healthy food at school. Please use THIS LINK to send a message to the candidates in your riding. (it takes less than 30 seconds!)

For more reading check out this article from the emerging Global Solidarity Alliance for Food, Health and Social Justice entitled Exploring the Emergence of a Global Solidarity Alliance for Food, Health and Social JusticeFresh Roots just signed on as a supporter!

And this CBC article published this morning entitled School food programs pivot to keep feeding students during COVID-19Our very own LunchLAB Chefs TJ and Tasha are pictured prepping food for this past spring/ summer’s LunchLAB: Chefs for Families COVID-19 meal program for kids and their families.

We hope you’ll take a moment to add your voice to the call to #NourishKidsNow!


October Farm Volunteer Sessions-Just Announced! 🍁

Are you itching to spend some time outside on a schoolyard farm? We are here to help! We are excited to welcome the return of volunteer sessions! Join us at the Fresh Roots schoolyard market farm at Vancouver Technical Secondary to help us with a variety of farm tasks including weeding, moving compost, or woodchips which will help us put the farm to bed for the winter! We’ve missed having folks from the community on the farm and

Join us for one of (or all!) three sessions in October!
Register here:

Friday, October 16th, 10-12:00 pm

Thursday, October 22nd, 10-12:00 pm

Thursday, October 30th, 10-12:00 pm- FULL

Please note:

Sessions are limited to 10 participants, to allow for physical distancing. Sign up to reserve your spot. You cannot attend without pre-registering. Please DO NOT attend if you are feeling unwell, including if you are experiencing flu-like symptoms such as a fever, cough, runny nose, or difficulty breathing.

What to bring:
*Garden gloves (we will have some available but ask that participants bring their own if possible)
*Rainboots or other waterproof footwear
*Water bottle
*Personal snacks
*Warm clothing/layers

We’re really looking forward to seeing you and sharing the magic of fall on the farm!


Take Learning Outside This Fall!

Fall is (almost) here, and the rain is due any day now. Whether your kids are learning in school, online,though a distributed learning program, or home learning, don’t let the rain keep you inside. Fall is a magical time to learn outside.

Deep Learning

We’ve always known that hands-on, experiential learning creates the kind of deep learning and connection that lasts. That’s why we welcome over 2000 field trip students a year to our farms to dig in the soil, plant seeds, harvest carrots, and connect to the living ecosystems that make our food systems possible. And playing and learning in the natural world allows us to learn with all our senses. Sure, you could look at a diagram of a tomato plant and watch a video about how they grow. But it’s no match to smelling that fresh tomato leaf scent as you brush through rough leaves, searching out just the ripest, reddest fruit, giving it a gentle tug to pull it from the vine, and then popping it in your mouth (after a quick wash). You can really feel how all that sunlight captured by the leaves and water and nutrients taken in by the roots has transformed into the sweet, bright, juicy fruit in your mouth, and how all that work done by that tomato, and the soil, rain, and sun before that (not to mention the bees!), is now nourishing you. You can’t help but feel connected, and grateful. That’s deep learning.

Healthy Learning

Health is at the front of all of our minds these days. Learning outside supports physical and mental health, as has been shown by many studies in the last few decades. Being outside in a safe place can contribute to lowered blood pressure, better immune system functioning, improved mood, better focus, and much more. Two hours a week of outside time in a natural setting, like a park, garden, wilderness area, or even an urban farm, is enough to give significant health benefits. Plus, outside is a safer choice to learn and play with friends. In fact, the BC CDC recommends taking students outside more often during the school day as a way to reduce risk of transmission of COVID-19.


Joyful Learning

While learning and joy can be found in many learning settings, even digital, joy is so much easier to access when you’re outside. From the splashing in mud puddles, to finding the longest worm, to dancing in the rain, there’s so much to inspire joy outside, no matter the weather. And by giving your students the gift of being able to find joy and magic in the natural world, you’re giving them something they’ll be able to turn to in times of struggle for the rest of their lives. You can help them find the joy in the wind, in the rain, in fallen leaves and acorns, in all that Fall brings.

Learn with Us

Fresh Roots is honoured to offer outdoor learning opportunities on our David Thompson and Van Tech schoolyard farms this fall. We offer single and multi visit field trip programs for pre-K through secondary, including curriculum-linked programs, and flexible pricing to accommodate different group sizes. All of our programs are led by experienced educators, and have carefully created health and safety protocols to make sure we’re all staying healthy and also having a great time learning. Please visit our Vancouver Field Trips page to learn more about how you can join us.


Fresh Roots school food program adapts to pandemic by delivering harvest banquet

Students still reaped crops in food gardens but spaced further apart

Chef TJ Conwi and Natasha Sawyer are pictured at the Italian Cultural Centre where they prepared meals for school children in Vancouver, B.C., last week. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

Fresh Roots, a Vancouver-based non-profit group that teaches kids about growing and cooking food, usually hosts its annual Schoolyard Harvest Dinner at this time of year but because of COVID-19, they have to do things a little differently.

“We usually have a beautiful, outdoor long table dinner at David Thompson Secondary School which is gorgeous and in the farm and everyone can come participate and eat there. This year that was not possible,” said Alexa Pitoulis, interim executive director of Fresh Roots.

Instead, the big dinner was prepared at the Italian Culture Centre and sent out to participants Thursday. Participants in the youth program called SOYL who worked on the outdoor farm in a physically distanced way will share their experiences through an online presentation.

Alexa Pitoulis, interim executive director of Fresh Roots, says the group has adapted to changing circumstances because of the COVID-19 pandemic. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

It’s one of the ways the organization, which converts schoolyard space into food gardens as well as other educational programing, has adapted to COVID-19.

For instance, its LunchLAB in-school meal program was switched to an out-of-school program, providing more than 5,000 meals to 260 families each week.

Chef Natasha Sawyer, a chef-in-residence at LunchLAB, says there’s a huge gap in a lot of people’s knowledge about where their food comes from.

“Fewer and fewer families are cooking at home. I think a lot of kids don’t necessarily get exposed to where does your food comes from,” Sawyer said.

Volunteers with Fresh Roots pack meals destined for families across Vancouver at the Italian Cultural Centre. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

Chef Natasha Sawyer is a chef-in-residence with the LunchLAB program which serves in-class meals to students. During the pandemic, the program switched to serving families meals at home. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

During a normal year, she works with teens to prepare two meals a week at school. She says the program has already had “a staggering impact” on those students, and she would love to see it expanded.

“The food knowledge, the skills that we’ve passed on, this is something that could benefit every student in Vancouver,” she said.

Chef TJ Conwi and Natasha Sawyer are pictured at the Italian Cultural Centre. Both chefs work with kids in the kitchen in order to teach them how to prepare food and where it comes from. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

Another chef,  TJ Conwi, says kids are willing to learn about growing and preparing food from a very young age.

“The one thing I learned doing this, we need to give our kids more respect,” Conwi said, with a laugh. “They actually step up when they need to do it. I have kids who are able to cut, able to prepare, able to clean up and actually clean up and do lunch service which is mind boggling to me because I have a Grade 3 [kid] as well and I didn’t realize he could do all of these things.”

Volunteers with Fresh Roots prepare meals for school children in Vancouver. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

Pitoulis says the non-profit has an essential role to play in educating children in the city.

“Kids and youth gain all sorts of skills such as self-confidence, self-esteem, [from] the magic of seeing something that you’ve planted grow and being able to eat it and cook with it themselves,” she said.


Fresh Roots On The Coast

On The Coast with Gloria Macarenko

Farms and gardens are bursting with produce now which means it’s a great time for a harvest dinner. A local non-profit called Fresh Roots hosts one of those every August to raise funds for their school educational programs. But they’ve had to do things a little differently this year. Our story producer Rachel Sanders went down to the Italian Cultural Centre this week with mask on and microphone on a long boom pole to find out more.

Listen Here



Scout List Vol. 569

FARM DINNER | Speaking of making the most of summer, how about putting some time aside to savour the bounty of the season? If you hurry (ticket sales end Friday, August 7th) you can still score a Fresh Roots Farm Schoolyard Harvest Dinner – a summer harvest box filled with everything from an elegant amuse bouche, charcuterie board fixings, and a delicious main course through to dessert (cheesecake), wine, beer or kombucha and flowers for the table. Have a look at the full menu here. This will be a tasty meal. Spread a blanket on your deck, back yard or living room floor and enjoy! The Schoolyard Harvest Dinner is a fundraiser for Fresh Roots and funds generated from the dinner directly benefit its SOYL (Sustainable Opportunities Youth Leadership) program, which engages and empowers youth to learn about working together to grow food. Good food for a great cause. Do it! Find out more.



Fostering a connection to food among youth, Fresh Roots takes its summer fundraising dinner online

Here’s a chance to support the way young people learn about food while enjoying a sumptuous, seasonal meal at home.

by Gail Johnson on August 4th, 2020

Fresh Roots Urban Farm Society helps schools throughout Metro Vancouver build community by growing food. And to keep young people connected to what’s on their plates in the era of COVID-19, its annual summer fundraiser is going virtual.

Founded in 2009 by Gray Oron and Ilana Labow, Fresh Roots builds school gardens, with the produce that pops up going to school cafeterias, neighbourhood houses’ food-security initiatives, and a weekly Salad Box program for East Vancouver families. The nonprofit organization also employs youth through its Sustainable Opportunities for Youth Leadership (SOYL) program. Participants learn about where food comes from and how to grow and prepare it.

For the last three years, the group’s SOYL fundraising event has taken the form of a long-table dinner at David Thompson Secondary School. Since that’s not on the menu for 2020, the team has announced the Schoolyard Harvest Dinner At-Home Edition, taking place next Thursday (August 13).

Participants will receive in advance a summer harvest box filled with everything they need to create a seasonal summertime meal (with vegetarian or nonvegetarian options available).

Menu highlights include a locally sourced charcuterie board and profiteroles stuffed with Fresh Roots herbs and Salt Spring Island Goat Cheese. The main course consists of 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.

Summer cheesecake topped with raspberry coulis from Olera Organic Farms finishes things off, with beverage choices featuring wine from Marquis Wine Cellars, 33 Acres Sunshine French Blanchè beer, or Bucha Brew kombucha. The meal kit also includes a bouquet of flowers for the table, cookies from Susgrainable, and a few surprises.

The festivities kick off at 6 p.m., when guests will gather online featuring kitchen tips and tricks from chefs TJ Conwi and Natasha Sawyer. SOYL participants will talk about their experiences with Fresh Roots, then people will sign off to enjoy their dinner at home.

Tickets start at $150 (plus taxes and service charges), which includes dinner for two plus wine, craft beer, or non-alcoholic beverages. Funds support the SOYL program.

“There is a great need, this summer in particular, for spaces for kids and youth to safely connect and learn,” Alexa Pitoulis, interim executive director of Fresh Roots, said in a release. “Our annual fundraising dinner provides critical funding which allows us to support more than 6,000 kids and youth annually—teaching them how to grow their own food, how to cook that food, and how they can engage with the land and their communities.”

For more info, visit Fresh Roots.


Menu for Fresh Roots’ Schoolyard Harvest Dinner Announced

July 28, 2020 | Scout Vancouver

Vancouver, BC | With less than two weeks left to score yourself mid-August feast from some of the region’s top producers, in support of a fantastic program. From the Fresh Roots team:

For this extra-special year, we are creating summer harvest boxes filled with everything you’ll need to create a beautiful summertime meal experience to share with friends, family, or your colleagues at home or in a location of your choice. The box will include fresh and chef-prepared ingredients for a simple and delicious meal to finish at home and thoughtful accoutrements like wine and flowers for the table. Menu created by Chef Natasha Sawyer and TJ Conwi.

Funds generated from the dinner directly benefit its SOYL (Sustainable Opportunities Youth Leadership) program, which engages and empowers youth.


Amuse Bouche
Profiteroles stuffed with Fresh Roots herbs and goat cheese, accompanied by candied Agassiz hazelnuts and wine compressed figs.

A meat and veggie option with either a selection of charcuterie from Legends Haul or Végé-Pâté and spreadable dips from Saltspring Harvest and pickled vegetables from Cropthorne Farm, Zaklan Heritage Farm and Fresh Roots

Sous vide Organic Ocean Seafood sockeye and Legends Haul sirloin masala, Fresh Roots harvest salad, zucchini palak paneer terrine, carrot vindaloo vinaigrette, atchara relish, and wheatberries

Summer Cheesecake with raspberry coulis from Olera Organic Farms

Choice of a bottle of red or white wine from Marquis Wine Cellars cans of 33 Acres Brewing Company Sunshine French Blanchè beer and kombucha from Bucha Brew

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

Info and tickets: