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A SOYL Summer – Part 3

A SOYL Summer- Part 3

As the 2020 SOYL (Sustainable Opportunities for Youth Leadership) program heads into the fifth week of learning and growing together in Delta, Vancouver and Coquitlam we are sharing the third installment in the three-part series written by four SOYL alumni from the summer of 2019. Introducing the third installment of this three-part series:

Written by Stephanie, Maria, Railene, and Sarina, 2019 SOYL Participants

Chapter 4 – Straight Talk

Straight Talk is something a lot of us found extremely important to our SOYL experiences. Straight Talk occurs once a week and it’s where our facilitators give us constructive feedback on how our performance in the program was that week. During Straight Talk, we get two positive things our facilitators saw us doing that week, and we get one thing that we may want to focus a little harder on.  Straight Talk is so important because it gives us another person’s point of view on our growth and participation so it helps us recognize our strengths and help us grow in areas we need to or struggle with. 

 

Chapter 5 –  Farmer’s Market

As we continue learning more about the farm, we also learned how to harvest and process the vegetables. First, we ask one of the farm team staff how to pull out the vegetables properly because you want to make sure if you’re doing it right. Second, we want to make sure that all the vegetables were properly washed because you don’t want any dirt on them. How do we wash our vegetables? Well, the farm team set up a harvest station to wash the vegetables and totes. After all the vegetables are nice and clean we put them in a tote for the farmer’s market. During the market, we learned how to sell our produce that we have locally grown in our schoolyard farms. We also gain customer service skills and share with the customers what is Fresh Roots about or even about the SOYL program. One of the things we sold in the market was our salsa! We spent a whole day in  SOYL making the salsa. In the kitchen one of our facilitators showed us how to cut the vegetables into smaller pieces, after that she showed us how to measure the salsa and how to can them properly.

 

Chapter 6: Leadership

Leadership is written in SOYL’s title. SOYL stands for Sustainable Opportunities for Youth Leadership. During this six-week summer program we crawl out of our shells, have new experiences, and become more confident. Every week a pair of SOYL crew members plan and lead a warm-up game for the morning. The warm-up games taught us how to speak in front of people. It helped us practice speaking clearly in front of lots of people. The fun warm-up games always wake all of us up. Giving and receiving feedback was important and that’s what FLIF is for. FLIF stands for “How do you Feel? What did you Like? What could you Improve? And would you like to receive Feedback?”We love sitting in a circle and appreciating our peers for their amazing work with positive and constructive feedback. Another part of leadership was learning the importance of active listening. In that workshop, we sat in front of our partners listening to them with active expressions. We practiced engaging with people’s conversations with patience, avoiding interrupting topics. SOYL has taught all of us how to be leaders!

Proceeds from the Fresh Roots Fourth Annual Schoolyard Dinner *At Home Edition* fundraiser On Sale Now provide critical funding for Fresh Roots programs, like SOYL, that engage and empower youth more important now than ever!

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A SOYL Summer-Part 2

A SOYL Summer- Part 2

As the 2020 SOYL (Sustainable Opportunities for Youth Leadership) wraps up another action-packed week or learning and growing together we are sharing the second installment in the three-part series written by four SOYL alumni from the summer of 2019. Introducing the second installment of this three-part series:

Written by Stephanie, Maria, Railene, and Sarina, 2019 SOYL Participants

Chapter one: The beginning of SOYL

The anticipation of SOYL was finally over as the first day finally arrived. We gathered together in a circle, seeing new faces. We were sorted in crews with people we had not yet connected with. While we started doing icebreakers and name games the awkwardness slowly faded away. Despite only meeting hours before, our interest bonded us together with beautiful conversations. Laughter and joy spread as we progressed through our first day. Closing off, we participated in an activity that ensured our friendship with one another. A ball of neon pink string was passed between all of us and we wrapped the string around our wrist three times. When it was our turn we would say what our goals for SOYL are. We discussed our goals to contribute to each other and promised to uphold the community agreements. In our community agreements, we agreed to be on time and be respectful to everyone in the community. Our schedules were formed the following week and we had lots to do. On the first day, we also learned how to use the gardening tools safely. We learned the importance of watching our surroundings so we don’t get into an accident. One of the two most important things we took from SOYL on our first week was safety but mostly fun!

Chapter Two: Community Eats

Most of the SOYL members can agree Community Eats is one of the best things in SOYL! What isn’t there to love about eating healthy, delicious, sustainable foods together as a community. In the morning a crew goes up to the kitchen inside the school and starts planning for the yummy meal. The veggies that sadly could not make it to the farmers’ market due to imperfections are used in the meal. For example, sometimes the vegetable isn’t pretty but it’s still perfect to eat. Community Eats is a hands-on learning experience for students. We learn to cook the food and on the other hand, we learn the importance of reducing waste. A couple of topics we covered in Community Eats are how we can use the unwanted pieces of veggies to make a broth instead of composting right away and we also learned about urban agriculture but will get more into that later. When all the cooked food was brought outside, we gathered together to listen to one of our SOYL crew members to introduce the meal of the day. While we were eating the delicious food we started having conversations with our SOYL staff, mentors, and crew members.

Chapter three: Farm Work

From buckets to shovels, every tool had a purpose on the farm that would make specific tasks easier. The first time on the farm we learned about tools such as forks and shears to ease into using them in the future. We even learned about the benefits of a glove. The glove will protect you from small thorns pricking your fingers or spiky weeds difficult to pull out. The facilitators made sure we knew how to handle such large tools with safety and care. Nicole, Hanah, and Sunny were the facilitators that ensured we understood how to clean the tools and safely put the barrels back. By the end of the day, we all knew how to properly use them. Tools such as shovels were used by the majority of us to remove the weeds in the beds with deeper roots. We all took part in the satisfaction of pulling a weed in one swift pull. Sometimes on the farm, we have been hungry for a snack while weeding and a simple trick is to eat one of the popular edible weeds on the farm. Most of us can say purslane is one of the best snacks on the farm. It’s succulent which contains water, making the pure green leaf fun and crunchy. The lemony leafy taste makes it even more desirable when spotting a bunch on the veggie beds. After the unwanted plants are pulled out of the beds we harvest the veggies. Harvesting is a rewarding job to do. The eye-catching multi-colored plants are removed from the beautiful deep rich soil we have on the farm. The mouth-watering task makes our days a whole step more enjoyable. During the program, we go to two different high schoolyard farms, one at David Thompson and the second one at Van Tech.

Proceeds from the Fresh Roots Fourth Annual Schoolyard Dinner *At Home Edition* fundraiser On Sale Now provide critical funding for Fresh Roots programs, like SOYL, that engage and empower youth more important now than ever!

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A SOYL Summer- An Introduction

A SOYL Summer

As the 2020 SOYL Program kicks off this week with a whole new crop of youth, we thought it would be a good time to share an insightful piece written from the youth participants’ perspective and experiences in the 2019 Fresh Roots SOYL program. Introducing the first installment of this three-part series:

Written by Stephanie, Maria, Railene, and Sarina, 2019 SOYL Participants

Introduction by Nicole, former SOYL Youth, and Current SOYL Lead

For the past few years, I’ve had the pleasure and honour of facilitating the SOYL Program with Fresh Roots. I’ve become a lot better at this work overtime and am learning new skills every year. However, one of the toughest parts of my job is still trying to explain to others what the program is. People ask me all the time what I do for work and the answer is usually “I run youth programs on urban farms”, but that barely scratches the surface of what SOYL is about. When we go to the market to sell the produce we helped grow, we teach the youth to share their experience in SOYL with the customers. They talk about what SOYL stands for (Sustainable Opportunities for Youth Leadership) and how they are learning about the food system.

The story and importance of SOYL are much better shared by the youth, they can do a much better job sharing the story than the SOYL leaders! So, at the end of last summer when some of the SOYL Youth said they wanted to write a story about their experience in SOYL, I was so excited! It meant a few different things. First, that the youth enjoyed spending time together and wanted to find a new way to do that now that SOYL was over, and second, that they wanted other youth to have the same experience as them. It’s really heartwarming to know that the work we do as facilitators is appreciated and valued. In fact, this story mentions a few times how cool the facilitators are which is always nice. Something I would like to remind the youth and the public of is the impact of the program is felt by facilitators as well. I try to remind the youth as much as possible that just as they are learning from me, I am learning from them; just as they look to me for strength, I look to them. This is all to say the SOYL Program is much more than a youth program, it’s a community that means a lot to the people in it. It’s a space where we all grow and learn together. It’s a space where we feel safe and appreciated.

Reading this piece has helped me understand how I can talk about SOYL.

With gratitude,

Nicole, former SOYL Youth, and Current SOYL Lead

 

About the Authors

  • Hello, my name is Sarina and I am going into grade 11. I am in a special class called senior links program at Vancouver Technical Secondary school. My favourite SOYL moment was designing the salsa label because I really like to draw pictures. They are beautiful and pretty. My favourite field trip in SOYL was it when we went to Van Dusen Garden. We all sat in the green lawn after the amazing tour and we did a scavenger hunt. It was really funny when we got lost finding the maze, one of my group thought that the big board was a map of the park.  Then we lost each other in the maze. It was also the day of the Long Table Dinner. The table looks so fancy and we set up the table then we serve the food to the people. I have two jokes I like the most from SOYL. The first one was worm university and the other one was number 15. What an unforgettable summer!

 

  • Hello, my name is Stephanie and I am going into grade 9. I go to a mini school at Britannia Secondary school. I have two field trips I’ve enjoyed most and the first is when we went to Van Dusen Garden. We all sat at the great big lawn resting on the bright green patch. After the beautiful tour, we had a scavenger hunt. Running through the maze and swiftly walking past the shady fern garden. All of us laughed at how we lost each other during the hunt. On the same day, we had the Long Table Dinner, making dinner day extra eventful! At the Long Table, we set up the fancy tables and served the wonderful people. I’m so grateful for all the things I’ve learned from SOYL.  Another fantastic moment that occurred at SOYL had been during the last day. The morning of the last day was filled with sadness and joy. While we all waited for the bus all of us bonded laughing at different subjects. Our first stop had been the landfill. We learned about where all are waste headed and it opened our minds more. Continuing the journey that day we headed to a farm.  I loved how we got to eat lunch at a farm and meet the animals. We got to feed pigs and pick blackberries! Our last stop was at the park where the Fresh Roots office is. We played a typical mafia game, made pizzas, signed our names on our t-shirts, got certificates, obtained our stipend, ate cake, and pied the facilitator’s faces. It was an end to an unforgettable summer.

 

  • Hello, my name is Railene and I am a graduated high school student from Killarney Secondary School. My favorite moment at SOYL would be playing basketball with our SOYL facilitators because I wanted to see if they could beat me in 1 on 1. I taught them the most important skills; how to shoot the basketball and learn some basketball moves. Another great moment was the last day of SOYL because while we’re at the Fresh Roots office we did so many activities. Some of us were playing mafia while other people were playing basketball. Then one of our facilitators called us and showed us the slideshow that she made and it gave us enjoyment and laughter. In the end, we gathered together in a circle and two of the SOYL crew members were singing a song called somewhere over the rainbow and while one of the crew mentors was playing the ukulele. It was a beautiful summer.

 

  • Hello! My name is Maria and I’m going into grade 10. I attend Burnaby North Secondary School. Two of my countless favorite memories in SOYL were facilitating warm-ups with my fellow SOYL friends. Every day a new group of two SOYL members got the awesome opportunity to lead a warm-up for the team. I loved this experience as it gave me an opportunity to practice my public speaking, practice working with others and work on facilitation skills. My second favorite memory was all the times we went to the market. Selling at the market was such an amazing experience. I had been to a farmers market when I was younger and it was so cool to see the way everything was set up, how it all worked, and get to practice my customer service skills and learn about food.

Proceeds from the Fresh Roots Fourth Annual Schoolyard Dinner *At Home Edition* On Sale Now will go toward supporting Fresh Roots programs, like SOYL, that engage and empower youth more important now than ever!

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Feeding “Hangry ” Kids

Don Davies is introducing legislation entitled the “School Food Program for Children Act,” requiring the Minister of Health, in consultation with provincial governments and other relevant stakeholders, to develop a school food program to ensure that all children in Canada have access to healthy food.

Fresh Roots participants and staff were invited to attend this press conference and got to speak on the importance of a national school food program. Watch now:

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An Exciting Peek Behind the Scenes at Fresh Roots!

For the past few years, we’ve had a BIG PROBLEM. We’ve wanted to show you all of the awesome things that the youth have been digging into at our farms, but there’s no way we could jam EVERYONE onto the farms at once!

Well, NOW we are thrilled to show you something we’ve been working on since the summer: a short and sweet sneak peek into one of our amazing programs!

We hope that by the end of this heartwarming video, you’ll be inspired to give a little warmth back to the youth in the form of a donation to support 2019 programs and our vision of Good Food for All! We are trying to raise $10,000 before December 31 to support the youth in next year’s programs and ALL contributions are greatly appreciated.

So… without further ado, please watch this lovely video! (It’s only two minutes and totally worth it!)

Watched that video and loved it? Didn’t watch that video but already know you love Fresh Roots and want to donate? Thank you so much! Please go ahead and donate now!

The SOYL Experience (so far)

This is the second week of SOYL and I’ve been having an excellent time! Throughout the program so far, I’ve made new friends and also got to learn more about gardening and farming. I hope further in the program I’ll be able to enhance friendships and create new ones that will hopefully continue once the summer is over. It’s going by so quick! One of my favourite parts of SOYL right now would probably be the harvesting days at the Fresh Roots farms at David Thompson & at Van Tech. So far I’ve been able to harvest some Swiss chard, some arugula flowers, and white icicle radishes. At David Thompson, I find their garden exceptionally beautiful. The Swiss chard, patty pan squash, the chocolate mint make me extremely happy because it’s so awesome to see an urban farm at a school in action and of course seeing the delicious fresh produce that’s organic as well!

My commute to David Thompson is around 40 minutes and I find myself actually enjoying it. I find waking up early and taking the bus puts me in a better mood and makes me excited for the day. As for Van Tech, I do love the space there. Since I’m part of the garden and sustainability club at Van Tech, I feel accomplished when SOYL helps out with the VT Garden Club’s beds because they’re so much better with our help! We’ve been clearing out the intense amount of weeds lately in our bush bean beds and it already looks incredibly better than before SOYL had started! I can’t wait to see what we can do to improve the garden out there this summer. I’m sure members of the club will be happy to see their garden when school starts back in September. Don’t worry, I’ll make sure that they know that the SOYL crew helped out with it. 😉

A somewhat gloomy day but that doesn't mean harvesting wasn't fun!

A somewhat gloomy day but that doesn’t mean harvesting wasn’t fun! Group B harvesting swiss chard.

A challenge I find myself being caught in would be my sleep schedule. I become motivated when I am refreshed and about to start the day but I find myself not getting the right amount of sleep. I would say that I’m both a light sleeper and will wake up to any little noise, but I can become a deep sleeper when I’ve had a long day. The problem of my sleep schedule would be that after a long, semi exhausting day at the garden & farms, I always take a nap right after because I really can’t help myself! I know now that all I have to do is find something to do during that specific time so I can save it for a nice deep sleep that will for sure benefit me in the morning. I will definitely try to work on that in the following week.

I remember on one of the mornings I woke up extremely close to 9:00 and was really tired to the point of my eyes wanting to shut. Though when I got there to the farm, I felt more energized and ready to take on the long day. I think it was because of the atmosphere and how everyone was happy and excited but also seeing the positive attitude from the Fresh Roots workers and interns. I also really enjoy having beds and beds of fresh produce surrounding me because it feels organic. (haha get it?) I personally think mornings are the best times to do farm work. There’s something about being surrounded by farm land and blossoming fresh produce that makes you feel so much better! Another activity I feed off of, literally, is weeding! I find weeding a good activity to start off the day because it can be quite relaxing, unless you’re doing it for a heapless amount of time. I think weeding brings people together since it’s a good time to chat to fellow peers about life and such while of course clearing out the unwanted plants. I learned that some weeds are edible like purslane and to me it tastes like a slimier spinach but to each their own. What does purslane taste like to you?

Besides that, I’ve had a great time helping out with community eats. My crew (B) made a delicious and filling meal last week and I enjoyed it very much. We had made a stir fry, using the vegetable of the week, KOHLRABI! That stuff is honestly delicious in a stir fry with quinoa and fluffy brown rice. Community Eats is a fun way to connect with all the other FreshRoots Crew because we get to talk and share stories about the day or generally everything. One of my favourite things about community eats is probably guessing what they’re making that day. I have guessed one dish right but the rest not so close. I always guess what food they’re making on community eats days according to a) what the veggie of the week was and b) I find secret loopholes from some other fresh Roots crew who either have the scoop on what they’re making or saw them carry a certain ingredient. Shoutout to you who have given me hints! 😉

To conclude this blog post, I would like to say that SOYL has genuinely been the highlight of my summer. First because it’s basically taken over my summer but also because I haven’t had this much fun in the garden in awhile! I’ve met great people and I really hope we stay in touch afterwards. I’ve been able to take care of the school garden (at Van Tech) and I’ve also been able to see the process behind growing local and organic food on an urban farm. All the Fresh Roots crew have been so excited and it really makes you have a stronger momentum and a genuinely splendid, beautiful day. Here’s to all the SOYL days to come!

Who needs gloves? You have to touch soil to be in SOYL!

Cheers,

Julie To

Coolrabi

SOYL  has been a really fun experience thus far ( re: this is only my THIRD DAY doing SOYL ), and I’m so happy I took this great opportunity. There’s been a lot of gardening–weeding–and cooking, sharing stories and having laughs. It’s feeling really tight-knit already and the first day, I barely knew any names at all. I’ve been feeling very connected to my crew already though I’ve only know all of them for three days.

My crew and I were the first to do Community Eats, and it was so much fun. I love cooking so it was a very fun time for me. We spent all of the morning preparing lunch, which were tacos! Who doesn’t love tacos? Especially with the excellent BBQ jam we received generously from a local chef who came to cook with us.  The entire meal was vegan/vegetarian which I really appreciated because am a vegetarian.

At first, I was slightly anxious of the meal, because I wasn’t sure if it was vegetarian, or if it would be conscious of some dietary needs or concerns ( not only for me but other people as well ). But I was pleased to discover that not only will every meal SOYL will make with Community Eats is vegan/vegetarian but also income-conscious or barrier-conscious. Not only that, but the tacos were filled with veggies for good health. It was so delicious too! I’ve had some not-so-great experiences with doing a cooking program that would try to implement vegetarian or vegan dishes but it not turning out well because it would try to mimic dishes that usually used animal products or meat. Also, we had a vegetable of the week ( how awesome is that? ), which was kohlrabi.

Rosalind commented that it looked like an alien head.

 

As for the farming part of the program, I feel like I’ve really learned a lot there past couple of days. It’s been a bit of labor but also so much learning through that labor. Types of weeds, how to use gardening tools, some history input here and there about the Fresh Roots program, when to pick the leafs off a kale plant. It’s all been a very enriched education. Like the enriched so(y)l in the urban farms. 

SOYL feels so different from summer formal education, like summer school. I dread the boring, I’m-half-asleep, this-classroom-is-so-hot classes you take in summer school! Granted, maybe this isn’t everyone, but it certainly is for me! I almost make it a point not to take summer school when I don’t need to. It just feels like a waste of the summer, where I could be enjoying the outside, soaking in the couple of weeks when Vancouver has sun. SOYL is really educational and enjoyable at the same time, plus we’re outside almost all day. Getting the fresh air, the sun, and bonding with people that share a lot of the same interests. Another plus, there’s no homework and it’s very engaging. You’ll never find a moment when you aren’t doing something.

I really look forward to the coming weeks of this program.

SOYL Crew Member – Rebecca 

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New Volunteer Postings – Support SOYL Youth this Summer

Fresh Roots and UBC Faculty of Education’s Intergenerational Landed Learning program have been excitedly collaborating and planning to produce our most exciting year of SOYL youth programming yet!

The SOYL summer employment and leadership program empowers secondary students to cultivate and steward food gardens on school grounds for learning, community building and growing Good Food for All. Through the program, youth develop skills in growing, cooking and selling food, as well as a greater connection to themselves, their community, and the Vancouver food system. They also receive a stipend, community service hours and work experience credit for their contributions. See our SOYL page for more details.

SOYL includes weekly Community Eats lunches, and we have some special volunteer needs to help make this program a reality.

  1. Volunteer Chefs (4 positions) – applications are due June 12th
  2. Delivery for Community Eats Volunteer (1 position) – applications are due June 26th

Click on the above links for more details, and contact us at volunteer@freshroots.ca if you have any further questions.

Creating a New Path

Today, we started the day off at Churchill by weeding some small plants from the garden beds. A small little carrot seed, a demonstration carrot seed (For the kids workshop) has sprouted with our cucumbers! Who would have thought that the little girl would come out…

After, we turned on the irrigation to water the plants and continued on with market planning and doing some blogging afterwards.

After lunch, we visited an urban garden near Langara. The garden was amazingly beautiful! Seeing their tomato trellis compared to ours made ours look way smaller. We got a tour around the garden and were told that seniors often come and visit the garden. But lately, only a few have shown up. To grant them better access, we decided to clear out the path that leads into and through the garden…by weeding! We were assigned into different sectors of the path and we clawed and raked out weeds that may cause harm to the seniors in wheelchairs. Even though it was particularly hot that day, we still pulled through! (Like the buff team we are).

Once we were done, we head back to Churchill and were dismissed from there.