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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!

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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?

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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It’s a Pizza Party!

There’s nothing like freshly rolled pizza doughs topped with fresh veg from the fields straight out of the oven! The SOYL youth at Farm Roots make a mean pizza, and all the leftover veg went into pasta sauce.

We have been so busy growing, learning, and sharing our love grown produce with the community! This summer has gone by in a blink of the eye, and it is hard to beleive there is only a week left in the program. The students have worked so very hard and we are so very proud 🙂

Fruit vs. Vegetable: Summer Botany Edition

Originally, I was going to write a long, detailed article about a new type of squash I encountered in the garden, however in the midst of telling a friend about this idea we got into a discussion about the technical differences between fruits and vegetables. The answer surprised me. Sure, we’ve all heard about how a tomato is technically a fruit, usually from some know-it-all kid in elementary school who posed the question in such a way to embarrass anyone who didn’t know the answer. What this kid in elementary school probably didn’t tell you was why a tomato is a fruit.

Fruits develop from the flower of any plant, whereas vegetables are any other part of the plant; this usually means the leaves, stems or root. Working in the garden certainly helps with understanding how each plant grows, but just from shopping in the super market one can discern what is a fruit and what is a vegetable. Anything with a stem is probably a fruit. For example: peppers, both bell and hot, are fruits because they develop out of the flower of the plant, same goes for tomatoes, squashes, cucumbers, beans, and peas. Don’t worry; potatoes, carrots, kale, spinach, and broccoli are still vegetables. Rhubarb, although generally paired with fruits like strawberries, is technically a vegetable because the useful part of the plant is the stems.

These may seem like trivial botanical facts for plant nerds like myself, but thinking about which vegetables are botanically fruits forces us to reexamine our relationship to food. It mends the gap between our thinking about food and plants that plagues those of us that get the majority of our food from grocery stores. When you ask yourself whether what you are eating is a fruit or a vegetable, you’re asking about the plant it stems from (pun intended). This gets us thinking about our food in new and exciting ways.