Delt Farm Update

June is here and we are already full throttle into our growing season thanks to the hard work of the Delta Farm Roots students and staff. With nearly all our beds planted, we are expecting lots of food and we are excited to announce we will be selling at the Ladner and Tsawwassen farmers markets: July 22nd (Ladner) , July 28th (Tsawwassen) , Aug 11th (Tsawwassen). We may change one of our Tsawwassen markets to the North Delta market, so please stay tuned!

 

Farmer Jasmine is back with Fresh Roots for a second growing season, and we are very excited to have Farmer Shamus join us with his excellent building skills and eye for infrastructure improvements. Please join us at the Delta site – 6570 1A ave – to buy our fresh produce on our honour stand and don’t forget to say hi to us on the field.

 

Happy Growing!

 

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Schoolyard Harvest Dinner

Youth are planting, getting ready
Sun is shining, strong and steady
All that’s left is you, our guest
With local food, your tastebuds blessed
Youre invited to this feast
an enchanting evening of magic unleashed
Huzzah!
Join us for an enchanting evening out in the garden. Enjoy an inspired multi-course meal and open bar created by Chefs Karima Chellouf and Kym Nguyen. We’ll celebrate with an elegant dinner paired with wines from the Hatch, brews by 33 Acres, and local ingredients sourced from schoolyard farms and farmer friends.
Support good food at school by sharing delicious conversations and the best of this season’s harvest.
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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

 

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All Our Father’s Relations

The Vancouver Food Policy Council is pleased to invite you to join us for a special documentary film screening of All Our Father’s Relations, followed by a panel discussion.

When: Thursday, May 31st – 6:30 to 8:30 PM. Doors open at 6:30pm. Film starts at 7pm. Panel starts at 8pm.

Where: Science World at TELUS World of Science, 1455 Quebec St, Vancouver, BC. View Map.

The venue and washrooms are wheelchair accessible. Gender neutral washrooms are available on-site.

Tickets are $15 – available through Eventbrite. Share the event with friends and family on Facebook.

We acknowledge that we are on the unceded, occupied, ancestral and traditional lands of the xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish), and səl̓ilwətaɁɬ (Tsleil-Waututh) nations.

As we strive to understand our own relationships to each other and the land through food, it is important for us to also recognize the historical and ongoing colonization and settlement of Indigenous peoples and lands that make it possible for us to be here as settlers.

About the Film

All Our Father’s Relations (祖根父脈) is a documentary film telling the story of the Grant siblings’ journey to rediscover their father’s roots and to better understand his fractured relationship with their xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam) mother. Raised primarily in the traditions of the Musqueam people, the Grant family and their story reveals the shared struggles of migrants and Aboriginal peoples today and in the past.

Panel Discussion + Special Guests

Join us afterwards for a panel discussion with Alexandra Henao-Castrillon, Hayne Wai and Howard E. Grant to explore how the erasure of Indigenous and minority communities’ food contributions impacts current society and actions.

Alexandra Henao-Castrillon is originally from Colombia. She has worked supporting and advocating for migrant farm workers in the Lower Mainland and Fraser Valley for the last 6 years. She is a founding member of the Migrant Workers’ Dignity Association

Hayne Wai is a longtime advocate, researcher, and author on Vancouver’s Chinatown and Strathcona. He is a founding member and past president of the Chinese Canadian Historical Society of BC and a former board trustee of the Dr. Sun Yat-sen Classical Chinese Garden and continues his involvement with both organizations. Hayne worked for the federal and provincial governments and was more recently a sessional instructor at UBC’s Faculty of Education. He has served on government, post-secondary and community committees on anti-racism, diversity, human rights and multiculturalism including the recent city advisory committee on Historical Discrimination Against Chinese in Vancouver. Panelists and participants will explore topics ranging from Reconciliation efforts, migrant farm labour organizing, and other challenges we are facing in just and sustainable food systems.

Howard E. Grant was born and raised in the Musqueam community. He was one of the fortunate children who did not attend residential school, giving him the benefit of learning his culture, values and teachings from his elders in his every day life. Mr. Grant is his family’s cultural speaker and is a historian and cultural leader of his extended family. As a result of this, Howard was given the honour by the elders of his extended family to carry the name qiyəplenəxʷ, a name known and respected throughout Coast Salish territories. Mr. Grant is currently the Executive Director of the First Nations Summit. The First Nations Summit is comprised of a majority of First Nations and Tribal Councils in British Columbia, providing a forum to address issues related to Aboriginal Title, Rights and Treaty negotiations as well as other issues of common concern. He is also a long serving member of Council from his home community of Musqueam.

Sarah Ling was born and raised as a 4th generation Chinese Canadian in Prince Rupert, B.C. on Tsimshian territory. She is a Project Manager with an Indigenous focus at the University of British Columbia at St. John’s College as well as Student Housing and Hospitality Services, where she produces and manages both Indigenous and Chinese Canadian storytelling initiatives. She is the lead Producer of All Our Father’s Relations, and was recently elected President of the Chinese Canadian Historical Society of B.C

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

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From the city comes a new generation of young farmers

From the city comes a new generation of young farmers
by Jess Mackie November 20, 2017

Students grow food on a Fresh Roots farm in Vancouver. Photo: Fresh Roots.

Farming is rooted deep in Dave Semmelink’s heritage. His father and grandfather were both farmers in South Africa and Semmelink always wanted to cultivate his own piece of land.

But he wasn’t convinced farming could be a viable career for him in B.C. He entered forestry at the University of British Columbia, betting his chances of employment would be greater in that field. Then a friend told him about the university’s six-month farm practicum.

“The practicum showed me that I can actually do this, and can make decent money if I work hard, if I network well,” said Semmelink. With the help of his practicum mentors, he signed onto his first farming lease before he even graduated from UBC.

Semmelink, now 29, is part of a new wave of young people choosing farming as a livelihood. The percentage of young farmers under the age of 35 rose to 6.9 per cent in 2016 from 5.4 per cent in 2011, according to the 2016 Census of Agriculture. It was first time since 1991 that the number of young farmers increased in an industry comprised mostly of baby boomers. This modest uptick is a boon for the B.C. Ministry of Agriculture, which presides over the oldest population of farmers in Canada.

Supporting young farmers

Expensive land and limited access to capital pose barriers to aspiring young farmers. Despite challenges, an impassioned local food movement is motivating more young people without any farming background to pursue farming.

“The urban agriculture movement in B.C. cultivates an idea that is hard to come across in cities — that farming can be a viable livelihood,” said Evan Bowness, PhD candidate in the Institute for Resources, Environment and Sustainability at UBC.

In order to sustain the growth of the sector, the provincial government is finding new ways to support beginning farmers, most of whom are young, said Emma Holmes, the new entrant agrologist at the ministry.

“They are realizing that this is a growing force, and are interested in … supporting those new entrants in a bigger way,” said Holmes. This includes funding existing organizations, like BC Young Farmers and Young Agrarians, which help young people connect with mentors and land opportunities.

Honing farm skills in the city

Urban educational programs, like the UBC farm practicum, are capitalizing on the locavore movement, imparting agricultural knowhow that was previously confined to rural communities.

Kwantlen Polytechnic University also offers two farm school programs in Richmond and Tsawwassen that focus on the research, education, and community sides of sustainable agriculture.

“We believe that we need to train the next generation of farmers,” said Caroline Chiu, farm school coordinator at Kwantlen. “Farm school is the kind of program that works, because we really focus on practical learning.”

“Urban farming as an incubator”

Farming within city limits is an avenue for young people to dabble in agriculture.

“A lot of young people are in cities,” said Will Valley, academic director of the land, food, and community series at UBC. “I would like to see urban farming as an incubator for getting young people interested, and testing out the sense of ‘Do I want to get into farming?’”

Urban farms across Vancouver provide volunteer and internship opportunities. One group, Farmers on 57th, supplies students with individual garden plots to test their farming skills for an entire growing season.

The growing season has ended at Farmers on 57th, an urban farm in South Cambie.

Another urban farm, Fresh Roots, offers a youth program called SOYL, which hires secondary students to care for a half-acre garden in the city, encouraging them to grow, sell, and cook healthy and sustainable food for their community.

“It’s really fun to be involved in the miracle of growing things,” said Marc Schutzbank, the director of Fresh Roots, which partners with local schools to grow educational farms. “Helping youth get excited and feel that magic is just a really important part of what we’re doing.”

“Our goal is not to grow all the food that we can here in the city, we can’t do that,” added Schutzbank. “But what we can do is help get people interested about our food systems” and connect them to rural farmers, “who are the real backbone of our food system.”

Semmelink is now a rural farmer who owns and operates a mixed livestock operation on the Comox Valley on Vancouver Island. His initial fears about entering farming have been quelled by the community support he receives both from food enthusiasts on the Island and from B.C. farmers throughout the region.

“I hope more people get into it,” said Semmelink about farming. “It’s a great way to live.”

Read online here.

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