post

Hello from Norquay – Art in the Park

Reflections from the Sharing Garden

The signs in the Norquay Park Sharing Garden are up! As I mentioned in the last update, we’re so excited to see folks from around the neighbourhood take part in the humble harvest that our small garden in the middle of the park outpours for the community – definitely come by if you still haven’t checked it out.

It fills my tender heart to see the red, rosy cheeks of the raspberries smile back and lengthy arms of the beets and turnips stretching out across their bed when I go out for a morning watering session. This has become a highlight in my day as I begin to spend more time in the fieldhouse as more COVD-19 restrictions ease up. All so often, especially during this busy season for Fresh Roots, we can get tangled in the art of getting by. Like busy bees, we fly from site to site, pollinating the programs on our schoolyard farms, hoping to produce rich fruit within each camper or youth we have the pleasure of learning from. Moments like these, watering and harvesting, remind me to stop and take the time to celebrate what we have accomplished as a community and look ahead to what is to come.

There’s a lot to look forward to at Fresh Roots, including our Backyard Harvest Dinner with Friends in a few weeks, and you’re invited! I’m also hoping to provide updates to what you can expect in the garden to harvest next month, so stay tuned for that.

New FREE Family-friendly Drop-In Sessions!

Norquay has become the common ‘hive’ for many of our paths intersect, for both Fresh Roots staff and park goers. Perhaps you’ve wondered about our educational programs or wanted to find out more about what we’re all about. Introducing Fresh Roots’ newest addition to Norquay Park – Norquay Art in the Park!

Starting this Thursday, kids, families, and artists of all ages are welcomed to stop by our booth at Norquay Park by the playground for garden-focused arts and crafts straight from our Summer Camps! Led by Molly, one of our experiential learning experts from Camp Fresh Roots, get a taste of our educational schoolyard farms with a fun and creative environmentally-friendly activity that you can take home. This week, we will be making seed bombs!

For more information, follow along our posts on social media:

Norquay Art in the Park

Time: 10:45 AM to 12:45 PM

Where: Norquay Park (by the playground)

Admission: Free drop-in

Dates:

  • Thursday, July 29
  • Friday, August 6
  • Friday, August 13
  • Friday August 27
  • Friday, September 3
  • Friday September 10
  • Friday September 24
  • More to come!

*Dates are subject to change and will be announced on social media

*COVID-19 precautions and practices will be followed to ensure the safety of all participants

Hope to see you there,

For the first Art in the Park!

Hello from Norquay,

 

Vivian

post

Hello from Norquay: Sharing is Caring

The concept of a food sharing garden was first introduced to me a few years ago, back when I was a Fresh Roots intern. I recall eating lunch in the fields with my team and talking about forests in Japan where anybody could come to pick the fruit and produce that grew in these designated areas. I remember us dreaming big – wondering if this was not only possible in the urban jungles of Vancouver, but whether this idea could be practically realized through Fresh Roots one day. We admittedly shared many musings and crazy ideas for the future of our little organization; after all, sharing is caring, and so, you can imagine my wide-eyed excitement as I first stood in the middle of Norquay Park, harvesting rhubarb in the Norquay Park Food Sharing Garden.

Perhaps you are like me and this is the first food sharing garden that you’ve been to. Our team has come up with 3 simple guidelines to get you started (available in other languages!):

  1. Find “PICK ME” signs to show what’s ready to eat
  2. Only walk on the pathways so plants don’t get hurt
  3. Take what you need AND leave some for others, too!

In addition to sharing food, we hope that the Norquay garden will be a place where we as a community can share ideas, just as I once did with the team and continue to do on our schoolyard farms. We tend the Norquay garden throughout the growing season, so come by and say hi! We’d love to hear about your plants and hear your stories as we partake in the feast of what it means to be a community.

And that’s it! You are now a sharing garden expert, so on behalf of the team, I invite you to visit the Norquay Park Food Sharing Garden. Currently, we have kohlrabi, raspberry leaves for tea, and my personal favourite – rhubarb (and more to come!)

In honour of National Strawberry Rhubarb Pie Day today on June 9th, I can’t wait to use my Norquay harvest in a very ap-PIE-tizing (here is the recipe for those that want to join me in the celebration: https://tasty.co/recipe/strawberry-rhubarb-pie). We look forward to seeing your tasty creations from the Norquay Garden as I look forward to showing you my pie and highlighting more plants that you can harvest in the next Norquay update. After all, sharing is caring.

“Pick me” – the garden,

Make strawberry rhubarb pie.

Hello from Norquay,

 

Vivian

post

Hello from Norquay: Pass the pink popcorn!

Spring is in full bloom at the fieldhouse! To think that less than a month ago, these flowers that crown the streets of Vancouver were merely kernels on barren branches. Now, they are sweetened by the rich fragrance of pink popcorn in the air, the perfect treat to celebrate the release of a new season, both inside and outside of the Norquay fieldhouse. Here are three of many things to celebrate about spring time at Fresh Roots:

1. Here’s to the season to populate. It’s exciting to see our team grow, whether it’s meeting new faces virtually or exchanging smiles through our masks in-person from a safe distance. More welcomes to come as we continue our hiring process! (Click here for our current job openings)

2. Here’s to the season to pop up. Thanks to the amazing farm team, the gardens are coming to life before our very eyes! This includes our very own Norquay community gardens, freshly cleaned up, all thanks to great volunteers. Stay tuned to watch new signs ‘pop up’ in Norquay park soon.

3. Finally, here’s to the season of popsicles. In a rare last few weeks for ‘Raincouver’, the sun is out and we can’t wait for the bright future ahead for Fresh Roots as it looks to be another stellar growing season ahead! The sunny weather has also sparked some fun, summer-inspired activities to potentially come to the Norquay fieldhouse. More on that and other updates to come in next month’s Norquay update. Until then, pass the pink popcorn!

Pop, pop, pop it goes,
A toast to the new season!
Hello from Norquay,

Vivian

post

Norquay Field House – A Year in Review!

As we mark the dubious 1 year anniversary of the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown we can’t help but celebrate the accomplishments made possible through our residency at the Norquay Field House. With the support of the Vancouver Parks Board and the Field House Project, we have supported food literacy and food access for kids, youth, and the community at Norquay and across Vancouver. In 2019 we served 17,928 nutritious meals and engaged with 6,354 kids and youth through 34,616 program hours. In 2020 we served 73,653 nutritious meals and supported 2,650 kids and youth through 20,055 program hours.

Some of the highlights from this past year are:

  • Norquay Park Food Sharing Garden – We tend a sharing garden where we engage with community members throughout the growing season. We speak to people about plants, share stories and invite them to harvest vegetables on their own!

 

  • Apple Cider Press Day – In 2020 we held this modified annual event with volunteers from the Bosa Foundation preparing and pressing 700 pounds of apples into 35 gallons of juice. We showed many community members how cider pressing works and gave out ginger gold apples generously donated by BC Tree Fruits to take home!

 

  • SOYL Program – We host over 35 high school youth each year who learn how to grow, cook, and share food.  Youth are referred to the program through social service providers and counselors and, through the program, build lifelong skills in confidence, friendship, and leadership. Learn more about SOYL (Sustainable Opportunities for Youth Leadership) here.

  • Schoolyard Harvest Dinner *At Home Edition* – Fresh Roots annual fundraising dinner virtually broadcasted live from Norquay Field House. We hosted 190 virtual participants online with 35 staff and a cooking demo safely hosted by chefs in-person.

  • And last but not least! Right before lockdown before we knew we wouldn’t be back in the field house for a while, Alexa  Fresh Roots Executive Director, then Interim Executive Director got a chance to prepare Fresh Roots’ famous salad dressing for the first time! We hope to be back in the field house preparing and eating food, laughing, learning and enjoying time spent together with our community.

post

2018 Annual Report

We’re so excited to share with you all of the amazing things that happened in 2018! (Hot tip: click the little square in the far right corner to view it full screen and zoom in.)

Thank you SO MUCH to everyone who supported the children and youth in Fresh Roots programs in 2018 and helped grow Good Food for All!

post

Thank you so much!!!

The numbers are in!

  • 1 month
  • 67 super generous people
  • $14,128 of support for kids in Fresh Roots programs this year!!!

Thank you SO MUCH to everyone who helped make this magic happen, from donating to sharing with your friends to cheering us on. We appreciate you so much!!!

The World’s Saddest Blog Post

With the changing of the seasons comes the changing of our staff, as most of our summer students head back to university. We’d like to take this opportunity to say TTFN (ta ta for now) to some of our Vancouver team, and read on for a special goodbye from one of our longtime Fresh Roots family members, Rosalind Sadowski, Youth Empowerment Manager.

The Experiential Learning Team is saying a fond farewell to three great summer staff. Jauna (aka “Gummybear”) has been a ray of sunshine on our Camp Fresh Roots staff since July. Heidi (aka “Tote”), has done an amazing job making sure we all have what we need, where we need it, since May. And Anna (aka “Worm”), has been with us since January, first as an EL intern helping run field trips, and then helping to plan and run our first-ever summer day camp! It has been such a joy to watch them grow as educators, and see the fun they’ve created for our campers and field trippers. We wish them the best of luck as they return to school and wherever else life takes them.

This summer, we welcomed two members of our original 2016 SOYL crew back as program facilitators! Nicole and Amanda returned to help lead the program, and brought a wealth of creativity, enthusiasm, dedication, and innovation to our group! They are moving on to continue their university studies this fall, and their positive energy and passion for the SOYL program will be sorely missed!

Rosalind Sadowski

And here is a little goodbye from Ros, our Youth Empowerment Manager:
“I am sad to say I will be moving on from my role with Fresh Roots as I pursue my teaching certification at UBC. It has been an absolute pleasure working with this community over the past years, and I thank you for your part in helping youth grow themselves through growing good food. I hope to connect in some other capacity in the future!”

And here’s our goodbye to Ros:
It’s with sadness, and excitement, that we bid farewell to Rosalind Sadowski, our Youth Empowerment Manager. Ros helped to grow the new iteration of the SOYL program, helping cultivate cohorts of youth out on the farm and in the kitchen. Ros, you will be missed, and we’re excited to see how you can help support more youth at schools.

As we say goodbye to these friends, we’re looking forward to making some new ones! Speaking of Youth Empowerment Managers… if you’d like to have just as much fun as Ros and also make a huge impact, you can apply to become our new Youth Empowerment Manager!

post

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

 

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