“Vivian’s Story – From Table to Farm”

Like many university students, my journey to Fresh Roots began when I was looking for ways to gain experience in my field of study. I was a biology undergraduate student at UBC and although my lectures and labs equipped me with the theoretical framework to think like a biologist, I had yet to ‘get my feet wet’ in the practical application of what I was learning, both literally and figuratively. I knew I wanted to help people, especially in empowering environmental stewardship and teaching others about life’s curiosities. Beyond that, like many university students, I was uncertain where to start.

At the same time, my family opened up a restaurant near Granville Island. That meant in between lectures, I would bus back and forth to help out, serving hearty bowls of noodle soup to Vancouverites on cold rainy days. Over time, I began becoming increasingly aware of the importance and power of making healthy food choices. Through hours of conversations with customers, I realized the potential for communities to form and bond through food.

In 2016, I joined Fresh Roots as one of the three Schoolyard Farm interns. From the moment I stepped foot into the gardens at David Thompson Secondary, I felt at home. Our team and programs were smaller back then but nonetheless, the sense of community and passion for social change was and is still evident for all who interact with Fresh Roots.

Even though at that moment, I could tell you the scientific life cycle of Brassica oleracea, I could not show you how to harvest kale when I first started my internship. Preparing my first garden beds was also a huge milestone even though my muscles were very sore in the days that followed. As a highly detailed person, I wrestled with the endless battle with the garden weeds, especially horsetail. Nonetheless, I knew these challenges were opportunities for me to grow as an individual and as a team in a safe and inviting community.

By the end of my internship, I moved from being a consumer of knowledge, sitting at the table as an observer, to a farmer of good food, both literally and figuratively, as my highlights include early harvest days and assembling CSA boxes at the ICC, to providing food for thought in my interactions with volunteers and market-goers. It was exciting for me to help mentor SOYL youth in the very things I could not do in the beginning, including harvesting kale and preparing garden beds. I knew my mind and abilities were stronger, though my battle with horsetail still continues to this day.

Fresh Roots sparked my passion for supporting community empowerment. Since then, I have graduated from UBC and worked in a couple of non-profit organizations, putting my attention to detail to good use through administrative support. This year, I return to Fresh Roots as the Operations Coordinator.

I am excited to continue my Fresh Roots journey with you all in the new year!

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