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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!

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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.

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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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Suwa’lkh School’s Native Plant Sale Now ONLINE!

The Fresh Roots Team at Suwa’lkh School is very excited to announce that we’ve brought this year’s Native Plant Sale online with 2 convenient pick-up locations! If you’ve been looking to learn more about native plant species or have been searching to find your favourite native plants for your garden, this is the blog post you’ve been waiting for! 

When Fresh Roots formed a partnership with the Indigenous Education Department in Coquitlam/Kwikwetlem, one of the main requests from this community was to help provide access to native plants, especially those harder to find for sale or in our urban environment. The beauty of the Native Plant Nursery Project here at Suwa’lkh School is that the youth who work with us in preparing and selling the native plants also learn about those plants, their uses, and their seasonality.

Gray Oron, the Suwa’lkh Project Manager, had this to say about the native plants we grow:

“Native plants not only give us a sense of place and connect us to the history of the land and the people on it, but they also support our local ecosystems and are easier to care for than most plants. One of the most common questions I get is: ‘can they be outside, right now?’ The answer is yes! They belong here, they are from here, and if you give them the right environment, they will need much less care than most non-native plants!”

We are working towards deeper guidance and connection with local First Nations Communities, Knowledge Keepers, and Elders. We strive to be an ally by providing native plants to the local community and space to support the passing of knowledge to youth. The web pages for each of the native plant species we’re offering in our shop are full of information about each species, their preferred conditions, and their interactions with wildlife and humans.

You can scroll through our online shop, add the plants you would like to have in your garden to your cart, choose a pickup location, and pay online all in a few simple clicks! We will contact you to arrange a pick-up time at your chosen location once you have placed an order. There are two pickup locations to choose from: 

 

  1. Italian Cultural Centre (Vancouver) on Wednesdays from 4-7 pm during our Pop Up Market
  2. Suwa’lkh Secondary School (Coquitlam) on Thursdays from 4-7 pm

 

Thank you in advance for your support in all of the work we do at Fresh Roots, especially during this difficult time! We are grateful to the communities we are a part of and your efforts to support native wildlife and youth education through our Native Plant Sale.

Happy planting!

The Suwa’lkh Fresh Roots Team

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New! Fresh Roots Thursday Pop Up Market in Kwikwetlam (Coquitlam)

The Suwa’lkh team is super excited to announce that we will be hosting a weekly pop up market at Suwa’lkh School on the corner of Brunette Ave and Schoolhouse St in Coquitlam starting Thursday, June 18th. Stop by the parking lot market space every Thursday from 4-7 pm June through October to pick up a variety of fresh, hyper-local produce and native plants grown by the very (sanitized) hands of youth and staff there to serve you at the market. 

There will be parking on-site right beside the market stand. Be sure to look for the orange Fresh Roots market signs pointing you in the right direction. 

At Fresh Roots, we are taking COVID-19 very seriously, and want to share some of the measures we’ll be taking to ensure a safe and comfortable experience at our markets. Our procedures and protocols are informed by the BC Centre for Disease Control, BC Farmers’ Markets, and Vancouver Farmers’ Markets to keep you, our community and staff safe:

  • The market will be one-way from entry to exit: Shop, Don’t Stop!
  • Cash-free payment encouraged
  • Please practice physical distancing. Keep 2m between yourself and others
  • Staff will be wearing masks, gloves and washing hands frequently
  • Hand sanitizer available for customers
  • Sorry, no dogs in the market area
  • Stay home if you are sick to keep our markets safe!

Thanks in advance for your support for all the work we do at Fresh Roots, especially during this difficult time! We are grateful for our engaged community and hope to see you at Suwa’lkh!

 

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Fresh Five: Waves of Justice

This past week has been an emotionally intense one for many of us as protests continue to highlight the systemic racism in our communities, and those protests against police violence are met with violence in return. As an organization dedicated to Good Food for All, we at Fresh Roots have been working individually and collectively to find ways to show solidarity with Black, Indigenous, and other marginalized people, and to continue our ongoing work toward building a just food system. If you haven’t see it, please read our message to our community.

And through that, our work continues, of growing food, feeding families, and teaching kids and youth about the food and ecological systems we are all part of. Before joining Fresh Roots, I spent five years as a marine educator, helping kids and adults learn about the importance of our oceans, and our Salish Sea in particular, so I was excited to create this week’s Fresh Five in honor of World Ocean’s Day on Monday, June 8th.

But I also can’t ignore the vitally important conversation we’re having about racism. Environmental problems disproportionately affect marginalized communities, and racism makes it harder for some of wisest voices for conservation to be heard. We cannot truly help our oceans without also fighting racism. So this week’s Fresh Five looks at many of those ways people and oceans are connected, and some of the ways racism has made it harder for oceans, and the people who depend on them, to thrive.

How to Talk About Racism with Kids

Before we jump into the ocean, I wanted to share some resources for parents who might be struggling with how to talk about racism and the anti-racism protest movement with their kids. The first link is a written guide that provides a framework for having these conversations. And the second is a link to the Sesame Street/CNN Town Hall aimed at kids and parents.

How to Talk to Kids about Race and Racism
Coming Together: Standing Up to Racism

 

Oceans and People

Last weekend, I took a beach vacation to the other end of town. It was a perfect chance to see some of the many ways people connect to the ocean. There were kids playing in the sand, kayakers, people in sailboats, and even some brave swimmers using the ocean for recreation and exercise. There were also container ships and what looked like a gravel barge being pulled by a tug boat, sowing the commercial importance of waterways in our global society. And on the beach were many small clam and mussel shells and seaweed, hinting at the food the ocean provides. And, of course, many gulls, geese, and herons connecting land and water ecosystems.

This interactive story from Ocean Wise, part of the elementary Ocean Literacy course, is a great place to dive into how oceans and people are connected. Ocean Wise has lots of other fantastic resources to learn more about our oceans, too!

Ocean Literacy: Oceans and People

 

Sustainable Fishing

Fresh Roots was fortunate to be part of something very exciting last week. Our LunchLAB: Chefs for Families program in partnership with Growing Chefs! was gifted 100lbs of the first catch of BC spot prawns from Organic Ocean. BC spot prawns are a delicacy and only available for a few weeks a year. Why the short time frame? It’s because BC spot prawns are an example of a sustainable fishery. That means the seafood is caught in a way that doesn’t harm the ecosystem and leaves enough of the seafood in the ocean for future years.

Sustainable fishing is important for people because somewhere between 1 and 3 billion people around the world rely on seafood for their primary source of protein. Seafood is also a traditional and culturally important food for many Indigenous peoples around the world, including in BC. Indigenous people eat 15 times more seafood than non-Indigenous people globally, according to a 2016 study from UBC. That means that preserving and protecting seafood stocks for future generations is not just an environmental issue, it’s a justice issue, too.

This classic sustainable fishing simulation from the California Academy of Sciences is easily modified for a family game night – just use fewer food items or have a longer “fishing season”. Feel free to substitute any small food item for the crackers and popcorn. I’ve always played it with M&Ms!

Sustainable Fishing Game

Clam Gardening

Photo: Mary Morris, SFU. CC-BY 2.0

While today our oceans are faced with over fishing, that hasn’t always been the case. For thousands of years, Hul’q’umi’num and WSÁNEĆ peoples of the Gulf Islands tended clam gardens as a form of sustainable aquaculture. Clams and their bivalve cousins mussels and oysters are some of the hardest working creatures in the sea. As filter feeders, they absorb toxins as they gather plankton, cleaning the water around them! Traditional clam gardens may be up to four times as productive as untended clam beds, which allow them to provide a continuous source of food for people while actively improving water quality. This is just one example of Indigenous knowledge of how to live in mutually beneficial relationship with the ocean and its inhabitants.  Listening to and learning from Indigenous and other marginalized communities is needed to care for our oceans. We need everyone’s knowledge and ideas to solve the problems we face today.

Check out this web page from Parks Canada to learn more about clam gardens and their project to connect ecological and cultural knowledge. Be sure to watch the video!

Clam Gardens – Learning Together

Nori Wraps

For our recipe this week, I brought in one of our new Experiential Learning team members, Marije! She’ll be working with me this summer to run Camp Fresh Roots, and you’ll be seeing more of her on the blog over the next few weeks as well.  Here’s what she had to say about seaweed!

“Maybe it’s because I didn’t grow up next to the ocean, but I used to imagine seaweed as one thing: long, green and wavy. But there are so many different kinds; seaweeds of all shapes, sizes and colours! British Columbia has an incredible amount of seaweed biodiversity; there are over 530 varieties right here on the shores of Vancouver! (Bates 2004). A member of the algae family, seaweed is classified into three groups: green, red, or brown.

“Seaweeds of the Pacific Northwest is a guide to identifying 25 common seaweeds that we can find right where we live. Some are edible, some are beautiful, all play important roles in Pacific Ocean ecosystems. Next time you’re at the beach, try finding as many different seaweeds as you can. See if you can classify it by looking at its colour: is it a Chlorophyta (green), Rhodophyta (red), or Phaeophyta (brown)?

“Seaweed isn’t really a “weed”, a better word might be sea-vegetable. Seaweed (or sea-vegetable; start the movement!) is super nutritious, full of vitamins, minerals and iron. Nori is an edible seaweed that is part of the Rhodophyta (red) family. After it is harvested, it is shredded, pressed and dried into thin sheets, similar to how paper is made. Here is a recipe using nori sheets as the base ingredient; you can use any combo of your favourite veggies and/or protein for the filling for these rolls!”

Nori Rolls Recipe Card

May we all be inspired by these waves of justice to do the work to care for the Earth and each other.

Kat

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Fresh Five: Marvelous Microbes!

Last week we talked a little bit about the tiniest inhabitants of our farms – the invertebrates, fungi, and bacteria that decompose plant and animal matter into the nutrients plants need to survive, which in turn become the nutrients we need to survive. But fungi and bacteria aren’t just breaking down the food in our compost, they are making the food in our kitchens and factories!

Like a lot of people, I took the ample time I’ve had in my home over the last few months to make a sourdough starter, and it’s been a wild ride figuring out how to develop and care for my own little colony of bacteria and yeasts (which are a type of fungus) so I can keep them happy and the use them to make some really delicious bread (and pancakes and crackers and biscuits and crumpets and…). Let’s just say, there’s been a lot of baking, and almost all of it has relied on microorganisms to happen.

And it’s not just breads. Fungi and bacteria are essential to making yogurt, cheese, sauerkraut, kimchi, soy sauce, chocolate, kombucha, tempeh, salami, and so much more. Humans have been employing the skills of bacteria and fungi to help us preserve foods for at least 13,000 years! So let’s raise a toast (fermented or not), to these marvelous microbes!

Here are five things to make to help you get to know our food microorganisms better.

Make it Rise

Bread

Wondering why you have to let regular bread dough rise, but you can whip up banana bread and pop it in the over right away? Curious where the holes in your bread come from? What’s the difference between baking powder and baking soda anyway? Looking for an alternate way to blow up balloons for your next party? Check out this activity and learn the secrets of leavening! This one is great for kids as young as kindergarten, and there’s an extension for older kids who really want to get scientific.

Uplifting Leavening Activity Guide

 

Make it Cultured

June 1 is World Milk Day! To celebrate both milk and microbes, there’s nothing better than yogurt! Yogurt is cultured, which in this case doesn’t mean it’s read all the books sitting on it’s “should read” pile. It means it’s a happy home to a number of strains of beneficial bacteria, which gives it it’s thickness and that tangy flavour. And best of all, it’s super easy to make at home! All you need is a pot, some jars, a food thermometer, milk, a little yogurt from the store, and a warm place. This recipe for the BC Dairy Association will get you started.  It’s really great with the rhubarb compote from our Stems week!)

Make Your Own Yogurt

 

Make it for Science

Photo by Bev Sykes, CC BY 2.0

Sourdough is having a moment right now. But what is it? While most breads are leavened with baker’s yeast, which can be purchased in packets or jars in the grocery store, sourdough is leavened using a starter culture of wild yeasts and helpful bacteria. Those yeasts and bacteria live all around us, and will find a happy home in some flour and water in your kitchen. The fun thing about sourdough is that the exact strains of yeasts and bacteria are different in different places. You may even have different microbes in different parts of your house! These helpful yeasts and bacteria out compete and harmful ones.

Even if you don’t want to get into sourdough baking, you can still make a starter for science. Sourdough for Science is a citizen science project collecting information about sourdough starters around the world. You follow their instructions to make a starter and collect data for 10 days, then submit you data online!

Sourdough for Science!

Make it Fermented

So many every day foods rely on fermentation, even ones you’d never think of. Hot sauce? Fermented. Chocolate? Fermented. Tea? Fermented. Soy sauce? Cultured with mold and then fermented. Here are some fun videos showing how a few common foods are made. How many fermented foods do you eat?

How Soy Sauce is Made
How Tabasco Sauce is Made
Cocoa Fermentation

Make Kimchi

One of our most exciting community workshops is You Can Kimchi! where we talk about fermentation and it’s importance to food, and make a simple kimchi recipe. It’s messy, spicy, and a lot of fun!

I always start by admitting that I didn’t learn how to make kimchi from a Korean mom, grandma, aunt, or other cultural knowledge keeper. I learned from the internet, from someone who did learn from a Korean mom. And if you have a kimchi maker in your family, you should definitely reach out to them for teaching! Traditionally, kimchi was made collectively by groups of women in an extended family, as it’s had to make just a small batch. Traditional kimchi also includes seafood in the form of fish sauce or shrimp paste, but I’ve left it out of this version to make it more allergy-friendly.

The recipe may look like a lot of ingredients and a lot of steps, but none of them are difficult. Try your local Asian grocery store for the gochugaru (ground red pepper) if you can’t find it where you regularly shop. You could use a different kind of ground chiles, but it won’t quite be kimchi.

The Lactobacillus bacteria that give kimchi it’s crunch, fizz and tang come from the different ingredients in the mix, including the cabbage and gochgaru.  Lactobacilli are anaerobic bacteria. That means they live and multiply where there’s no air. So for your kimchi to be kimchi, you need to use a mix of ingredients, and keep the air out by making sure your veggies are under the brine and there are no big air pockets in your jar.

Food Safety Note: While the lactobacilli are generally great at out competing harmful fungi and bacteria, if your kimchi grows mold or smells bad, throw it out and don’t eat it!

Simple Kimchi Recipe Card

Happy Fermenting!

Kat

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Fresh Five: Biodiversity

Happy International Day for Biological Diversity!

You didn’t know May 22 was the International Day for Biological Diversity? That’s OK. Neither did I when I started planning this week’s Fresh Five to be about biodiversity. Talk about good timing! We couldn’t let this special day go by without acknowledgement, so your Fresh Five is coming early so you can celebrate IDB (as the cool kids at the UN call it) with activities to help you think about biodiversity in your neighborhood, on the farm, and in the world.

Biodiversity is, essentially, all the different kinds of plants, animals, fungi, and microorganisms in an ecosystem. Having a wide variety of living things in a ecosystem makes it more resilient and able to handle change. As humans, like all animals, we rely on other living things for food, clothing, shelter, medicine, and more, meaning that maintaining healthy ecosystems isn’t just about keeping the oceans healthy for whales or the forest healthy for moose (though whales and moose are important!). It’s also about keeping the world healthy for us.

Here are five ways to explore and celebrate biodiversity this week.

Make an Ecosystem Web

Fresh Roots grown (mainly) vegetables on our schoolyard farms. Our farmers plant rows of peas, squash, chard, lettuce, parsley, and more. We can grow nearly 100 different varieties of plants in a single season! That might sounds like a lot of biodiversity, but plants and farmers are just a small part of the whole biological picture. Discover how everything from crows to fungus to the air around us contributes to the biodiversity of our farm. We do versions of this activity with kids as young as 8 all the way through adults. (Hint – making the web is only the start of the discussion!)

Farm Ecosystem Web Activity Guide

 

Be a Biodiversity Detective

Biodiversity isn’t just on the farm, though – it’s all around us! This activity from VanDusen Botanical Garden will help you seek out the biodiversity in you yard, neighborhood, or local park. You might use it on a casual stroll, or make it a game and see how many different living things your can find in 10 minutes. And if you find something you don’t recognize, this could be great time to pull out the Seek app from our Earth Day Fresh Five.

Biodiversity Detectives Teacher Guide
Biodiversity Detectives Student Worksheet

 

Join the Bird Blitz

Working primarily from home for the last couple of months has given me more insight on my neighborhood birds. There is a family of European starlings who nest in my neighbor’s rafters every spring (and wake me up at sunrise every day). The black-capped chickadees love to hang out on the apple tree in the backyard. The house finches and sparrows mostly stay across the alley in the blackberries, but will sometimes come over if there’s any weeds that have gone to seed. Crows come by occasionally, and on special days the neighborhood ravens will fly over. Gulls like to sit on the roof of the church behind my house, and every once in a while, a bald eagle can be spotted soaring overhead. And that’s just in my urban backyard without any sort of bird feeder!

Do you like watching your backyard birds? Scientists want to know what you’re seeing! The Schoolyard Bird Blitz is an annual bird survey organized by Birds Canada to get students looking for birds, and contributing to scientific knowledge about the prevalence of bird species across Canada. This year, they’ve switch gears from a Schoolyard Bird Blitz to a Backyard Bird Blitz so everyone can participate!

Bird Blitz at Home!

Build a Crow’s Nest

Crows can be trouble on the farm. They love yanking out newly planted started to get at the insects and worms in the freshly turned soil, and they’ve even been know to pull the protective covers off our plant babies. They dig trash out of the trash cans and throw it everywhere. And if you’ve ever walked under a crow’s nest during baby season, you’ve likely been dive bombed by the protective parents. But crows are also extremely intelligent tool-users, and will build relationships with humans who treat them kindly. (They are still wild animals, so please don’t try to make your neighborhood crow into a pet!) And, just like humans and other animals, they have complex relationships with the biodiversity of their ecosystems.

This activity from Science World will get you thinking like a crow! As you build you nest, think about what other types of life are necessary for crows to build their nests.

Crows Nest Activity

Make a Biodiverse Salad

I’m so glad that my local farmer’s market is open again! It was worth waiting in the long, physical-distanced line to get my local eggs, veggies, and a pastry treat. It will be even more exciting when Fresh Roots’ produce is available but that’s still a few weeks away. One of the things I got recently was some of the first local kale. I eat a lot of kale, in smoothies, sauteed with eggs, in pasta or soup, or in salads. Raw kale can be… a lot. Massaging your kale with a little salt, fat, and/or acid for a few minutes starts the mechanical process of breaking down those tough cell walls, making it easier for your body to digest, and makes it less bitter.

And there are so many ways you can top your massaged kale! I like a little red onion, feta, dried cranberries, grated carrots, and candied pecans in the fall, and snap peas, crumbled goat cheese, fresh strawberries, and toasted sliced almonds in the spring. Just like biodiversity is good for ecosystems, biodiversity of foods is good for our bodies! Different foods have different balances of of the energy and nutrients our bodies need to thrive, so mix up your salads, and have fun!

Massaged Kale Salad Recipe Card

Get out and celebrate diversity!

Kat