Empowering youth to grow themselves and Good Food

What is SOYL?

SOYL is a 6-week summer leadership and empowerment program offered by Fresh Roots at the Vancouver Technical and David Thompson Secondary school farms. The program empowers secondary students to cultivate and steward ½-acre schoolyard farms for learning, community building and growing Good Food for All. Through their time with SOYL, youth develop skills in growing, cooking, and selling food, as well as a greater connection to themselves, their community, and the Vancouver food system. Youth also receive a stipend, community service hours, and can receive VSB credit for their contributions.


SOYL 2019 runs from July 8th to August 15th. Applications for the 2019 program will open on March 1, 2019. If you’d like us to email you when applications open, please fill out this form. All applicants are required to attend a group interview session in May.

What happens at SOYL?

Throughout the summer, youth are learning and leading on the Fresh Roots farms. They’re growing, cooking, and selling, meeting friends, and exploring the food system. Youth:


Grow Good Food for themselves and their community


Prepare weekly farm-fresh meals with local chefs to enjoy as a community


Preserve and share the harvest through youth-led social enterprise, building experience as entrepreneurs


Develop personal capacity through a variety of food systems and leadership workshops


Sell Good Food at farmers’ markets, develop financial literacy, customer service, and public engagement skills.


Explore Metro Vancouver’s food system through engaging field trips with local food organizations.

“Doing SOYL, I wake up excited every single morning, excited about all the new amazing things I’m going to be learning, about the amazing people I’m being surrounded with. For so long I was like ‘Another day, another drag,’ but now I’m like, ‘Let’s do this!’” — SOYL 2016 Crew Member

To learn more about the SOYL program in the youth’s own words, check out the all the SOYL posts on our blog, and click here for photos from the program!

SOYL Mentorship Program

As part of fostering ongoing opportunities for youth leadership, previous SOYL Crew can apply to return as SOYL Mentors. Mentors take on additional responsibilities on the farms, support incoming youth and continue growing their skills as leaders, farmers and role models in the community.

This season, we will empower at least five SOYL Mentors. Mentors must attend an extra week of training before SOYL begins. They also attend extra programming on Fridays and/or Saturdays. In recognition of their additional time and responsibilities, mentors earn a stipend of $1100 for the summer. If you are interested in becoming a SOYL Mentor, please email to access the application form.


When does the program take place?
SOYL 2019 runs from Monday July 8th – Thursday August 15th. During those 6 weeks, we meet Monday to Thursday, 9 am – 4 pm. Participants are also expected to attend one or two Saturday markets, from 8:30 am – 2:30 pm, as part of their program experience. Participants are able to select their preferred Saturday market date upon acceptance to the program.

Where is the program located?
Monday to Wednesday, we meet at either one of our school farms located at Vancouver Technical Secondary (2600 E Broadway, Vancouver, BC V5M 1Y5) or David Thompson Secondary (1755 E 55th Avenue Vancouver, BC V5P 1Z7).
On Thursdays, we change meeting location each week as part of our Community Service Learning Days, where we visit and explore different aspects of the local food system. Participants will receive a schedule at the beginning of program that will provide more details on the location and activities planned for each Thursday.

How do I get to the program?
Participants are expected to arrange their own transportation to program each day. We encourage the use of public transit and can provide support in planning transit routes to each location.

Who is eligible?
To be eligible for SOYL 2019, applicants must meet the following criteria:

  • Able to attend all 6 weeks of program: Monday to Thursday 9 am – 4 pm from Monday July 8th – Thursday August 15th, and at least one Saturday from 8:30 am – 2:30 pm. If you will be absent for more than 4 days during the program period, you will not be able to join this year’s crew.
  • Must be entering grade 9 or above in September 2019

How many spots are available in the program?
In 2018, we selected 30 youth to join the SOYL crew. For 2019, we have expanded the program and will be able to hire more youth! Not all who apply will necessarily be accepted, so please take the time to prepare a thoughtful and thorough application.

Do I need a reference?
You do not need a reference to apply. However, if you have any adults or other support figures in your life who would like to express their support for your application, you can provide their contact information in the “referral” section of the application form.

How much will I be paid?
SOYL Crew receive a $600 stipend for their contributions throughout the summer. The stipend is paid in 2 instalments: the first after 3 weeks of program, and the second upon program completion.

How do I receive school credit for being part of SOYL?
At this time, there are a couple of options for receiving VSB credit for your participation in the SOYL program. All participants in the program are eligible to receive credit for Intro to Sustainability 11. Additionally, if you are interested in receiving Work Experience credit, please speak to the Work Experience teacher at your school.

How much physical labour is part of the program?
Participants will be expected to perform moderate physical labour as part of the program and should be comfortable working outdoors in various weather conditions.

“Even if you think your mind is open, SOYL really opens your mind so much more than you’d expect. And from that, it humbles you because you’re in the dirt, in the sun. Even though being in the dirt doesn’t seem that appealing, it teaches you something. You get great work experience and the environment is really great, and there’s a really diverse group of people that you get to meet and interact with. It’s so much more than just farm work in the sun.” — SOYL 2018 Crew Member

Contact Information

SOYL is a collaboration between


SOYL is made possible by

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