Welcome to the final month of operation for the 2021 Fresh Roots Farm Season. This month we are undertaking lots of soil TLC so we have a nice, healthy biome in the spring, ready for our seeds and transplants. The only thing we actually plant this late in the season is Garlic. This year we will be filling an entire block (that’s 10 x 45ft beds) with lots of juicy amendments then planting the whole area with Russian Red Garlic. We’ll top them off with foraged seaweed and 6 bales of hay so they have a nice store of nutrients dissolving into the soil all winter until they decide to sprout up in the spring. There are a few beds we will leave to overwinter – like kale, chard, chicory, and a few other brassicas – but the rest we will amend and cover with silage for a nice winter nap.
October is pretty solidly booked with school field trips on the farm. I’m hoping the youth will witness our system of putting the beds to sleep as a meaningful learning. It’s not just about smothering everything with big sheets of black plastic – it’s about protecting our soil from leaching and weeds all winter long so that we have an easier time in the spring.
This month also closes out our final markets – October 13th is the last CSA Pickup as well as Market at the Italian Cultural Centre and October 23th will be the final market with VFM at Riley Park. Once our markets are shut, we clear the fields of any veggies that are left and either sell direct to restaurants or donate to local food hub programs. Right now I’m working on a partnership with David Thompson Secondary for a student-led program called the “Free Store” to get our donated veggies into students’ homes over the holidays. Otherwise we try to get our veggies into the weekly boxes at South Vancouver Neighbourhood House, or the low-cost market at Cedar Cottage Neighbourhood House.
Most of our fruiting vegetables have completely died back. That means no more eggplant, tomatoes, zucchini, cucumbers, or peppers. We have some straggling last beans which is kind of shocking to me, but they’ll only last another week or two before they rot in this fall rain. Our flowers are melting off their stems while broccoli and Gailan pump out their last straggling sideshoots so we can bundle them up as broccolini for our final CSA Veggie Box. The transformation of the farm from a beautiful, buzzing production zone into a state of decay is marvellous to me. It means it’s time to slow down and introspect – and it’s so healthy to take stock of what needs work. Looking forward to doing the same for my own damn self, especially in light of this new holiday commemorating one of the Calls to Action for Truth and Reconciliation.
With production out of the way, Piper and I will be able to focus on winterizing and tidying up the farm. I am so excited to have a clean slate this spring and looking forward to some possible new toys like a rolling flame weeder and a fancy tiller – that’s what I’m asking the Fresh Roots’ Santa for this Christmas, anyway. Another big wish on my list is for more weekday volunteers in 2022 to help us tackle weeds on a weekly basis. With changes in our programming, our SOYL participants weren’t able to support us at our site at David Thompson. This meant the farmers who are dedicated to cultivation had to divide their time between maintenance and seeding; I bet you can guess which task got priority.
That’s pretty much October for Fresh Roots’ Farm team in a nutshell – looking forward to slowing down and taking stock in the months to come. Thanks for a wonderful summer season!
September 30th is the first-ever National Day for Truth and Reconciliation a federal holiday established to honour residential school survivors and the lives of those who did not return. We wanted to share some ideas from our team about how you can recognize the day and take actionable steps toward reconciliation.
Fresh Roots will be closed and will recognize the day as a paid statutory holiday to allow for time to engage meaningfully with this important day.
We’ve compiled a few ideas of things you can check out and explore in honour of the day:
Attend on September 30th
- 94 calls to action of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. In a summary report released earlier this year, the commission published 94 “calls to action” urging all levels of government — federal, provincial, territorial and aboriginal — to work together to change policies and programs in a concerted effort to repair the harm caused by residential schools and move forward with reconciliation. The act of reading these recommendations is an important step toward reconciliation. And taking it one step further to figure out ways to actively engage with the calls to action.
- Summary of the Indian Act: A brief, plain language explanation of an act which is still in effect today in spite of its initial objective of control and assimilation, to “continue until there is not a single Indian in Canada that has not been absorbed into the body politic, and there is no Indian question, and no Indian department.” Say what??
- Orange Shirt Day Book, Phyllis Webstad
- Fatty Legs: A True Story, Christy Jordan-Fenton & Margaret Pokiak-Fenton
- Indigenous Writes: A Guide to First Nations, Métis & Inuit Issues in Canada, Chelsea Vowel
- They Came for the Children: Canada, Aboriginal Peoples, and Residential Schools Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada staff: The Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada published this history as a part of its mandate to educate the Canadian public about residential schools and their place in Canadian history.
- From the Ashes: My Story of Being Métis, Homeless, and Finding My Way, Jesse Thistle
- Braiding Sweetgrass, Robin Wall Kimerer
- 21 Things You May Not Know About the Indian Act, Bob Joseph
- The Inconvenient Indian, Thomas King
- Donate directly to The Indian Residential School Survivors Society. The Indian Residential School Survivor Society (IRSSS) is a provincial organization with a twenty-year history of providing services to Indian Residential School Survivors. They strive to provide physical, emotional, intellectual, spiritual growth, development, and healing through culturally-based values and guiding principles for Survivors, Families, and Communities.
Please let us know if you have any resources we should know about and we hope our list provides you with some ideas about how to engage with and make acknowledging this important holiday meaningful for you.
By Andrea Lucy, Experiential Learning Program Lead
The best days are digging days!
It’s a simple, yet marvellous activity. One, because kids love getting dirty and messy. Second, because they get to learn about the wonderful world of soil. The kids are so full of joy and wonder. They enjoy discovering a worm digging deep away from the sun, a pillbug curling up into a tight ball, or an ant nest full of pupae the size and shape of a grain of rice. By watching these creatures, they see how they eat organic waste and break it down. Their interest and observations open a window to talking and learning about decomposers. They see how the soil is their habitat, their home. By breaking down waste into soil, decomposers also help make a healthy home for the plants on our farm.
Through play, they learn soil is a mixture of these and many more living creatures, along with air, water, and minerals. One group created mud people dressed in zucchini hats. They defended mud island with a moat full of water. Through the kids making mud sculptures, we learned our soil is made of lots and lots of clay! While clay soil makes it difficult for roots to grow, it brought kids at Fresh Roots lots of joy. They could engage in playful learning, creating whatever they imagined. The kids worked collaboratively on their muddy creations and made alterations and changes every day. The worms joined in on the fun as well!
We also found evidence of larger animals moving through the soil. Who do you think made this footprint? Do they play a role in decomposition too?
In my own digging online, I learned decomposers also help clean up oil spills and plastics in the ocean! What superstars!
Dig into a Field Trip This Fall
If you want to join us in the joy of digging and decomposers, we are hosting field trips at our Vancouver farm sites during the fall. A new offer this year is our “Decomposers!” field trip.
Click here to book a field trip for your group.
A few of our favourite things:
- The picturebook Diary of a Worm by Doreen Cronin and Harry Bliss
- The picturebook Up in the Garden and Down in the Dirt by Kate Messner and Christopher Silas Neal
- This animated video “The Dirt on Decomposers” by Crash Course Kids
by Sissi Han, SOYL Suwa’lkh Mentor
Hi, I am Sissi! Here is my blog post!
I chose four pictures from the album and they are my treasured memories.
I took my first picture on my way to Rochester Park. They were hydrangeas. The flowers next to a cluster of clusters, just like small pompons. I felt relaxed at that time. The flowers were blooming brightly, they were gorgeous.
The second picture is a cluster of lavender. The whole SOYL team went to visit colony farm that day and we saw a lot of native plants, fruits, veggies, flowers. Although the temperature was pretty high, I felt well worth seeing these lovely plants. I heard that lavender scents can produce the most positive, calming results.
The third picture is a container full of blueberries from the first week of SOYL market. We harvested a lot of plump, dark blue blueberries. I remembered there were bees flying around, and cobwebs between leaves and branches.
The fourth one is a photo of the curry from Community eats of out crew. The curry was tasty and it smelt so good. We had coconut milk, chickpeas, sweet peppers, and other ingredients that I didn’t really put in the curry I made from home. That was impressive.
This was really a memorable experience!
by Natalia Samaniego, SOYL Suwa’lkh Mentor
I originally found out about SOYL thru a “my school” app notification. This is my second year here and it’s been a great experience full of lessons, fun, and friendships. I’ve learned about leadership, food systems, forest ecosystems, mental health, the list goes on. I’ve done many things outside of my comfort zone that I wouldn’t have done if not for this program, like gaining hands on experience as a cashier in the Thursday SOYL market. As a mentor, I’ve learned to deal with uncomfortable situations and deescalate conflict. I’m a more confident person than I was before. I’m really happy I got to be part of this program.
Learn more about the SOYL program HERE.
by Carmen Starr, SOYL Suwa’lkh Mentor
Market time at SOYL has always been my favourite time during the program. I loved it last year when I was just a crew member and got to do it and I loved it just as much this year as a mentor too. I could honestly list various reasons why the market is my favourite. To start off, I love the preparation for it. Harvest days are some of the best days for me. I love getting to pick the veggies and going through our whole process of getting them market ready. On market days, being able to sleep in is so refreshing and relaxing. Having that extra bit of sleep always helps. Besides that, getting to interact with customers and getting hands on work experience is great. I like that I get that experience in SOYL because it really helps having it. SOYL has just been a great way to gain work experience and prepare me for when I apply to somewhere and get my first job.
SOYL has been such a great way to step out of my comfort zone and really start to open up more. It has given me so many opportunities to connect with different people in my age group and has helped me step up and become a better leader. The mentorship this year has been new for me but others and I have seen a large change in the way I was last year. I’m more open to sharing my voice in conversations. I’ve gained more confidence in myself. I have faced some of my biggest fears here and got through them better than I ever have. I’ve always struggled with public speaking but being in this program and getting used to talking so much has helped me improve on it. SOYL has really done so much for me and I am so grateful I got to be apart of such a wonderful program.
Learn more about the SOYL program HERE.
by Cady Tong, SOYL Suwa’lkh Mentor
Being in the SOYL program was very new to me. You spend of your time outside either working on the farm or forest and any workshops we had we could relate back to experiences we had just had.
We plant a variety of things on the farm, often consumable but also beneficial towards our environment such as flowers for our bees or plants for filtration.
We do a lot of cooking, leaning more into the vegan/vegetarian side which teaches us the importance of the food we eat while introducing us to new diets, which tie nicely into our food systems workshops.
We often gather in the forest next to Suwa’lkh which has a creek where we’ve learned the importance of our salmon to us and the Coquitlam people and of how the water systems affect us.
At SOYL we get to create a really nice community where everyone feels welcome and we discuss the importance of safe spaces. It is unlike what I’m used to in my day to day life where such a close community is rare to come across.
Learn more about the SOYL program HERE.
by August Sholcz, SOYL Suwa’lkh Mentor
I’m really glad I joined the SOYL program this year. Last year, the SOYL program was a lot of fun and so far, this year has been just as fun. This year is a little more challenging than last year but I love challenges.
I’ve learned to interact with everyone. I’m really enjoying being a mentor and helping out. I have my own little crew and I know each person individually. I get to help and answer questions if they ask. So far, I feel pretty confident in guiding my crew. There are a few who need some extra support, but it’s been pretty good. Since I’ve been in their situation before, I am able to better support them. I am able to ‘put my feet in their shoes’. We’ve learned quite a few different things. We’ve learned how to can vegetables, learned about Colony Farms, learned about the different kinds of soils, etc.
Like always, my highlight is the market. There is only one thing I dislike about markets, which is closing time. My favourite part is entering orders into the ordering machine and handling the money. Doing the market is extremely rewarding not just because of how much was sold, but also getting out of my comfort zone and talking with people. I love to organize the produce to make it look nice and appealing. For me, teaching customers about what we do and what the SOYL program stands for is a little difficult, but it’s great practice. I have definitely come a long way with interacting with others during the markets.
Learn more about the SOYL program HERE.
by Fiona Sutherland, SOYL Vancouver Mentor
As a mentor, I have loved seeing the growth and change this wonderful program has brought to not only my crewmates, but me as well. Watching everyone come out of their shells, take interest in farming, help the community, and expand their social circles has been so inspirational! Getting to know our wonderful SOYL youth this summer has been quite exciting, especially from a mentor point of view. I feel as if I have a lot more appreciation for the change and growth, I have seen from day one to now! Seeing the growth in myself is also incredibly exciting. I feel as if I learn more and more every year and I am so grateful for the opportunities this program has provided me with. My confidence in my own leadership skills is continuously growing as I receive feedback from our wonderful facilitators and help build on my current abilities.
SOYL provides such an inclusive and fun environment to learn in, and this summer has helped me develop and foster crucial life and leadership skills. For example, I now find it much easier to take charge and help lead bigger groups. I feel a lot less afraid to give others gentle reminders and to step fully into my leadership position! SOYL has given me the confidence to trust my own decisions, leadership related or otherwise. I truly appreciate how SOYL brings hundreds of youth opportunities that are few and far between in our education system – not only does the program help prepare us for the workforce, but it gives us valuable information about the outside world and how to stand out amongst our diverse and talented peers. SOYL teaches youth how to bring positive change to our society, no matter big or small.
Learn more about the SOYL program HERE.