#SOYLyouth 2022 – Audrey

by Audrey Sum, SOYL Suwa’lkh Crew

A Foodie’s Insight: Community Eats at Suwa’lkh

From a Foodie’s perspective, being part of the SOYL program allowed me to discover different meals and introduce vegetables from the local schoolyard garden in many ways to our diet. 

What is Community Eats? Every Tuesday and Wednesday, crews at Suwa’lkh will switch every week to have the opportunity to cook lunch for the students with various delicious vegan and healthy meals ranging from curries to veggie burgers.

For sides, salad is always served at lunch time during Community Eats. The salad has mixed greens and sometimes kale or turnip tops included too. A side of roasted turnips is commonly served for lunch, they are turnips seasoned with salt and pepper that is roasted in the oven.

A choice of Hickory Dressing (also known as Fresh Root’s favourite dressing) or Balsamic vinaigrette can be paired with your salad. However, be careful of the dressing bottle, don’t squeeze it with too much force or the salad dressing will go flying across your plate.

Now for the most exciting part, I’ll be introducing my favourite meals eaten during Community Eats. In the first picture, it was a split pea soup with carrots, split peas, herbs, and broth boiled down together. To go along with the soup, the crew made some homemade crackers with a little bit of sea salt on top. For sides, there was salad greens with Balsamic vinaigrette and roasted potatoes.

The soup tasted sweet and delicious, as it complemented well with the soft carrots and split peas combination from the vegetables added to the soup to give it more flavour. Although the crackers were a bit hard and needed an amount of chewing, the taste was surprisingly good.

It was a lighter meal compared to other meals made at Community Eats, but it filled you up quickly and you wouldn’t have to get any seconds. The roasted potatoes were my favourite part of the meal, as the smaller bits of potato were soft inside and had a crispy texture on the outside that made you want more.

Saving the last for the best, this meal was a vegetable pizza with various vegetables that included spinach, peppers, zucchini, tomatoes, and mushrooms. The pizza was simply amazing as it had many toppings and the cheese pull made everything better. I found out that the cheese was apparently vegan? It was my first time trying vegan cheese and I couldn’t differentiate between regular cheese and vegan cheese, I was shocked that it tasted exactly like it. The richness of the cheese and baked bread dough with vegetables was the definition of Umami. For sides, there was salad greens, roasted zucchini and turnips with salt and pepper. The taste of the zucchini was tender and sweet that completed the pizza lunch for today’s Community Eats.

If you’re in it to help out at the garden in exchange for eating and cooking delicious meals, SOYL is the right place for you during the sunny skies of July and August. This was an experience that made me understand how my food gets from the farm to my table through the process of harvesting and cleaning the vegetables that I eat.

Building stronger connections with my community and the crew, mentors, and facilitators that I’ve worked with over the past 6 weeks was an opportunity to share knowledge from staff and students and taught us the importance of having an open mind and taking care of the space around us.


Signing out,

Audrey Sum


#SOYLyouth 2022 – Kaylen

by Kaylen Chong, SOYL Suwa’lkh Mentor

This is my second year participating in the SOYL program and I have found it more fun than the first time. It was partly because last year we didn’t get the opportunity to cook or go on any field trips, but I thought the activities planned were entertaining.

I had an absolute blast playing games, learning about leadership & food systems through informative and interactive workshops, native vs. invasive plant species, and getting to know everyone in the group. My favourite part of SOYL is being able to acquire practical kitchen skills through cooking together with my team for Community Eats.

I also enjoy harvesting a variety of different kinds of vegetables (like pink cauliflower & kohlrabi) and selling produce on market days. I have certainly stepped out of my comfort zone to share my thoughts and ideas more often in discussions, interacting with customers at the market, and trying new things. I really like being there to teach and support my fellow crew members using my previous knowledge as well. I have become a more confident person overall.

I am so grateful that I got the chance to take part in such an inclusive and fun program as it was a memorable experience that I will remember for years to come.


#SOYLyouth 2022 – Saul

by Saul Todd, SOYL Vancouver Crew

One of the things I enjoyed most during my time with SOYL was weeding the gardens. Weeding may not sound very fun or exciting, but for me it was a really good way to relax and give my brain a break. I can’t think of a more rewarding feeling than pulling the last weed from a garden bed. We came across some really interesting critters in the dirt while weeding, like bright green grubs and iridescent beetles. Also, worms. Too many worms to count.


#SOYLyouth 2022 – Alex

by Alexandra Johansen, SOYL Vancouver Crew

This summer has honestly been the best summer ever and that is all thanks to the SOYL
program. It was so fun! I came in not knowing anyone at all, but I got to know many amazing people that I probably wouldn’t have met otherwise. Our facilitators are also super awesome people who love plants just like everyone in the program. We all just have the best time together, even when it comes to weeding in the heat.

So far, we’ve been on three field trips – one to UBC farms, one to Superstore and Langara YMCA and the most recent which was to Food Stash Foundation. They were all a blast while being educational. I learnt a ton, especially about medicinal plants during the tour around the indigenous garden at UBC farms. During the program we also get to attend Fresh Roots’ market at the Italian Cultural Centre, which was again, very fun. I got to work the register, which was kind of stressful at first, but I ended up getting the hang of it. It was just fun to hang out with veggies.

Another super exciting part about this program is that twice a week, crews get to cook lunch for everyone. My favourite dish by far has been the stir fry – it was absolutely delish! We’ve also had curry, chili, lasagna, burgers, pizza… and always a salad to go with. I love a good salad. When I wrote this blog at about halfway through the program, I was already a much more self-confident and leadership-like person than before. I am truly grateful for this program’s existence and the experience it gives me. Thank you, Fresh Roots!


#SOYLyouth 2021 – Sissi

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!

Bright smiles,

Sissi Han


#SOYLyouth 2021 – Natalia

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.

#SOYLyouth 2021 – Carmen

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.


#SOYLyouth 2021 – Cady

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.