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!

post

How to store three totes of mega spinach – the FRESH ROOTS way!

Hello friend! Amanda and Nicole here.

Have you ever been responsible for storing three totes full of abnormally large spinach? Because we have! And we have written a step-by-step guide  just for you based off of our very own experience at the Fresh Roots’ Norquay office. So, if you ever find yourself in this situation, do not fret. Follow this guide, and you will achieve three-tote-mega-spinach-storing success!


You will need:

  • Three totes of abnormally large spinach
  • A sink
  • A strainer
  • 12 ziplock bags
  • A refrigerator
  • A freezer (stored in a location that does not have an outlet)
  • A funny smelling cleaner
  • Two spoons
  • A large pot
  • A standing desk in need of assembling

Step 1: Give your spinach a rinse and stuff them into ziplock bags!

The spinach arrived at our office this morning a little dirty. We filled up the sink to about a quarter of the way full of cold water, gave them a wash, shook off the excess, and stuffed them into ziplock bags. We ended up with twelve entire bags full of spinach!

Step 2: Realize that twelve bags of spinach cannot fit in your freezer.

We love our fridge’s freezer here at Fresh Roots. We freeze a lot of things! So much so, that when it came time to try to fit twelve bags of spinach into the freezer – well… that didn’t work out too well. Thankfully, Ros remembered that we had another freezer stored away in the office’s storage space.

Step 3: Clean the other freezer.

Ros went quickly to work, grabbed a funny smelling cleaner, and started cleaning away. The freezer was nice and clean afterwards, and definitely ready to house twelve bags of spinach. All we had to do was plug it in…

Step 4: (Try to) Plug in the freezer… and realize there is no outlet to plug it into.

Upon realizing that, Nicole, Ros and I had to decide between two courses of action. Either, we had to:

  • clear out space in our office’s closet, carry the freezer from the storage room into said closet, plug the freezer into an extension cord and plug the extension cord into the outlet under the office’s standing desk OR
  • blanch the spinach!

We chose to blanch the spinach.

Step 5: Stuff the spinach into the available crevasses of the fridge for a few hours while you go out and solicit donations.

Nicole and I had other things to do to prepare for this summer’s SOYL Program, so we let the spinach cool in ice out in the fridge to cool for a few hours. While it was cooling, we went on a trip around East Vancouver trying to get donations to support Community Eats!

Step 6: Google “how to blanch spinach”

Ros found this one:

https://www.wikihow.com/Blanch-Spinach

To summarize, all we had to do was boil the spinach for a few moments (until it turned bright green) strain it, flash-freeze by soaking it in an icebath, and squeeze out all of the excess water. What happens next? The spinach shrinks down to about one-tenth of its size, making it way easier to store!

Step 7: Begin to boil some water and realize that you have no ice to make an ice bath

Not a problem – just go out and find ice! It’s everywhere, neighbours, gas stations, and of course the grocery store. Just make sure you get A LOT!

Step 8: Prepare an ice bath.

It worked like a charm!

Step 9: Blanch the spinach by cooking it in boiled water for 60 seconds, straining it, dipping it in the ice bath

Then you can squeeze it into little spinach balls!

Step 10 (Optional): Master the art of spinach blanching and assemble a standing desk

After blanching so much spinach, you will have reached spinach blanching nirvana. You can now move on to doing other things while your spinach is being blanched – like building a standing desk!

Step 11: Voila! You have reduced 12 bags of spinach down to 2!

We were able to store the spinach in the freezer with no trouble at all. Overall, we’d have to say that our spinach-storing journey was a success. 10/10. Would blanch again.


Well, congratulations! You now know how to blanch spinach! Now you can sleep peacefully at night knowing that if three totes of spinach ever arrive at your doorstep, you’ll know exactly what to do with it.

 

You’re welcome.

 

-Amanda and Nicole

 

The Big Build

Today, the planter boxes all came together – literally. An amazing group of hardworking volunteers armed with drills and impact drivers assembled the planters that had been decorated over the fall. Led by the team at Fresh Roots, we called to action our varying degrees of skill to build what will soon become a flourishing community garden! Thanks to all and enjoy the photos! – Sophie Noel

   

 

Filling Garden Beds

Good news: we received a soil donation from the City of Vancouver’s Social Policy Department.
Bad news: it was delivered far from our site!

With shovels, wheel barrows and muscle, we managed to fill a few over the course of Sunday morning. – Sophie Noel

Pre-Schoolers Explore

The preschoolers learned about bugs and creatures that might live in gardens. Together, we made salt-dough critters, placed them on the wood,  toasted the wood with a blow-torch, then lifted  them to reveal their shadows. The results were beautiful shadows of creatures and river rocks. – Sophie Noel

post

Strawberries – That’s what we are all really after…

Strawberry – Everbearing

At the Suwa’lkh School program we propagate native plants with the students both for sale and to help rehabilitate and reindiginize our forest. In the future we will have native varieties of this delicious berry, but for now we have loads of these everbearing cultivated plants!

Physical properties: Perrenial small bush (20cm diameter) with large, juicy, red strawberries. Will send runners and establish a patch if left alone.

Preferred conditions: Dry heads, wet feet. Prefferably no more than one plant per sq. foot. Mulch will prevent fruit rot. Sunny loaction is best. Will die back in winter, but come up again in spring.

Edibility: YEAH! (but don’t tell the kids…)

For best results, replace every 4th year with new runners as old plants are less productive.

post

Large Leaf Lupine – Native Wildeflower of beauty and fame!

Large Leaf Lupine – Lupinus Poliphyllus

At the Suwa’lkh School program we propagate native plants with the students both for sale and to help rehabilitate and reindiginize our forest. This one is just too beautiful not to spread around!

Physical properties: Perennial, upright, up to 1.5m high

Preferred conditions: Moist to wet open habitats (sea shores, streamside, meadows, disturbed sites). Low elevations. Likes sun, will die back in fall and come right back in spring!

Edibility: Wild lupin contain toxins – Not edible

First Nation Uses: Unknown

Beautiful purple flower heads, fixes nitrogen, self seeding.

post

Salal – a Native Plant you all want to know!

Salal – Gaultheria Shallon

At the Suwa’lkh School program we propagate native plants with the students both for sale and to help rehabilitate and reindiginize our forest. One of our favorites, this one has an incredible fruit!

Physical properties: Bushy perennial, 0.2-5 m tall (layering and suckering) – will grow into the space it has available.

Preferred conditions: Sunny edges of coniferous forests, rocky bluffs, to the seashore. Does not require watering once established. Winter hardy, just plant and forget till fruit is ready! Low to medium elevations.

Edibility: Berries are edible and delicious! Great for Jam, ripen in August

First Nation Uses: One of the most plentiful and important fruits for the northwest coast first nations people. Eaten both fresh and dried into cakes. The Kwakwaka’wakw ate the ripe berries dipped in oolichan grease at large feasts. For trading or selling, the salal berries were mixed with currants, elderberries, or unripe salal berries. The berries were also used to sweeten other foods and the Haida used salal berries to thicken salmon eggs. The young leaves were chewed as a hunger suppressant by the Ditidaht. The leafy branches were used in pit-cooking, and cooked as a flavouring in fish soup.