Suwa’lkh School’s Native Plant Sale Now ONLINE!

The Fresh Roots Team at Suwa’lkh School is very excited to announce that we’ve brought this year’s Native Plant Sale online with 2 convenient pick-up locations! If you’ve been looking to learn more about native plant species or have been searching to find your favourite native plants for your garden, this is the blog post you’ve been waiting for! 

When Fresh Roots formed a partnership with the Indigenous Education Department in Coquitlam/Kwikwetlem, one of the main requests from this community was to help provide access to native plants, especially those harder to find for sale or in our urban environment. The beauty of the Native Plant Nursery Project here at Suwa’lkh School is that the youth who work with us in preparing and selling the native plants also learn about those plants, their uses, and their seasonality.

Gray Oron, the Suwa’lkh Project Manager, had this to say about the native plants we grow:

“Native plants not only give us a sense of place and connect us to the history of the land and the people on it, but they also support our local ecosystems and are easier to care for than most plants. One of the most common questions I get is: ‘can they be outside, right now?’ The answer is yes! They belong here, they are from here, and if you give them the right environment, they will need much less care than most non-native plants!”

We are working towards deeper guidance and connection with local First Nations Communities, Knowledge Keepers, and Elders. We strive to be an ally by providing native plants to the local community and space to support the passing of knowledge to youth. The web pages for each of the native plant species we’re offering in our shop are full of information about each species, their preferred conditions, and their interactions with wildlife and humans.

You can scroll through our online shop, add the plants you would like to have in your garden to your cart, choose a pickup location, and pay online all in a few simple clicks! We will contact you to arrange a pick-up time at your chosen location once you have placed an order. There are two pickup locations to choose from: 


  1. Italian Cultural Centre (Vancouver) on Wednesdays from 4-7 pm during our Pop Up Market
  2. Suwa’lkh Secondary School (Coquitlam) on Thursdays from 4-7 pm


Thank you in advance for your support in all of the work we do at Fresh Roots, especially during this difficult time! We are grateful to the communities we are a part of and your efforts to support native wildlife and youth education through our Native Plant Sale.

Happy planting!

The Suwa’lkh Fresh Roots Team


New! Fresh Roots Thursday Pop Up Market in Kwikwetlam (Coquitlam)

The Suwa’lkh team is super excited to announce that we will be hosting a weekly pop up market at Suwa’lkh School on the corner of Brunette Ave and Schoolhouse St in Coquitlam starting Thursday, June 18th. Stop by the parking lot market space every Thursday from 4-7 pm June through October to pick up a variety of fresh, hyper-local produce and native plants grown by the very (sanitized) hands of youth and staff there to serve you at the market. 

There will be parking on-site right beside the market stand. Be sure to look for the orange Fresh Roots market signs pointing you in the right direction. 

At Fresh Roots, we are taking COVID-19 very seriously, and want to share some of the measures we’ll be taking to ensure a safe and comfortable experience at our markets. Our procedures and protocols are informed by the BC Centre for Disease Control, BC Farmers’ Markets, and Vancouver Farmers’ Markets to keep you, our community and staff safe:

  • The market will be one-way from entry to exit: Shop, Don’t Stop!
  • Cash-free payment encouraged
  • Please practice physical distancing. Keep 2m between yourself and others
  • Staff will be wearing masks, gloves and washing hands frequently
  • Hand sanitizer available for customers
  • Sorry, no dogs in the market area
  • Stay home if you are sick to keep our markets safe!

Thanks in advance for your support for all the work we do at Fresh Roots, especially during this difficult time! We are grateful for our engaged community and hope to see you at Suwa’lkh!



Fresh Five: Waves of Justice

This past week has been an emotionally intense one for many of us as protests continue to highlight the systemic racism in our communities, and those protests against police violence are met with violence in return. As an organization dedicated to Good Food for All, we at Fresh Roots have been working individually and collectively to find ways to show solidarity with Black, Indigenous, and other marginalized people, and to continue our ongoing work toward building a just food system. If you haven’t see it, please read our message to our community.

And through that, our work continues, of growing food, feeding families, and teaching kids and youth about the food and ecological systems we are all part of. Before joining Fresh Roots, I spent five years as a marine educator, helping kids and adults learn about the importance of our oceans, and our Salish Sea in particular, so I was excited to create this week’s Fresh Five in honor of World Ocean’s Day on Monday, June 8th.

But I also can’t ignore the vitally important conversation we’re having about racism. Environmental problems disproportionately affect marginalized communities, and racism makes it harder for some of wisest voices for conservation to be heard. We cannot truly help our oceans without also fighting racism. So this week’s Fresh Five looks at many of those ways people and oceans are connected, and some of the ways racism has made it harder for oceans, and the people who depend on them, to thrive.

How to Talk About Racism with Kids

Before we jump into the ocean, I wanted to share some resources for parents who might be struggling with how to talk about racism and the anti-racism protest movement with their kids. The first link is a written guide that provides a framework for having these conversations. And the second is a link to the Sesame Street/CNN Town Hall aimed at kids and parents.

How to Talk to Kids about Race and Racism
Coming Together: Standing Up to Racism


Oceans and People

Last weekend, I took a beach vacation to the other end of town. It was a perfect chance to see some of the many ways people connect to the ocean. There were kids playing in the sand, kayakers, people in sailboats, and even some brave swimmers using the ocean for recreation and exercise. There were also container ships and what looked like a gravel barge being pulled by a tug boat, sowing the commercial importance of waterways in our global society. And on the beach were many small clam and mussel shells and seaweed, hinting at the food the ocean provides. And, of course, many gulls, geese, and herons connecting land and water ecosystems.

This interactive story from Ocean Wise, part of the elementary Ocean Literacy course, is a great place to dive into how oceans and people are connected. Ocean Wise has lots of other fantastic resources to learn more about our oceans, too!

Ocean Literacy: Oceans and People


Sustainable Fishing

Fresh Roots was fortunate to be part of something very exciting last week. Our LunchLAB: Chefs for Families program in partnership with Growing Chefs! was gifted 100lbs of the first catch of BC spot prawns from Organic Ocean. BC spot prawns are a delicacy and only available for a few weeks a year. Why the short time frame? It’s because BC spot prawns are an example of a sustainable fishery. That means the seafood is caught in a way that doesn’t harm the ecosystem and leaves enough of the seafood in the ocean for future years.

Sustainable fishing is important for people because somewhere between 1 and 3 billion people around the world rely on seafood for their primary source of protein. Seafood is also a traditional and culturally important food for many Indigenous peoples around the world, including in BC. Indigenous people eat 15 times more seafood than non-Indigenous people globally, according to a 2016 study from UBC. That means that preserving and protecting seafood stocks for future generations is not just an environmental issue, it’s a justice issue, too.

This classic sustainable fishing simulation from the California Academy of Sciences is easily modified for a family game night – just use fewer food items or have a longer “fishing season”. Feel free to substitute any small food item for the crackers and popcorn. I’ve always played it with M&Ms!

Sustainable Fishing Game

Clam Gardening

Photo: Mary Morris, SFU. CC-BY 2.0

While today our oceans are faced with over fishing, that hasn’t always been the case. For thousands of years, Hul’q’umi’num and WSÁNEĆ peoples of the Gulf Islands tended clam gardens as a form of sustainable aquaculture. Clams and their bivalve cousins mussels and oysters are some of the hardest working creatures in the sea. As filter feeders, they absorb toxins as they gather plankton, cleaning the water around them! Traditional clam gardens may be up to four times as productive as untended clam beds, which allow them to provide a continuous source of food for people while actively improving water quality. This is just one example of Indigenous knowledge of how to live in mutually beneficial relationship with the ocean and its inhabitants.  Listening to and learning from Indigenous and other marginalized communities is needed to care for our oceans. We need everyone’s knowledge and ideas to solve the problems we face today.

Check out this web page from Parks Canada to learn more about clam gardens and their project to connect ecological and cultural knowledge. Be sure to watch the video!

Clam Gardens – Learning Together

Nori Wraps

For our recipe this week, I brought in one of our new Experiential Learning team members, Marije! She’ll be working with me this summer to run Camp Fresh Roots, and you’ll be seeing more of her on the blog over the next few weeks as well.  Here’s what she had to say about seaweed!

“Maybe it’s because I didn’t grow up next to the ocean, but I used to imagine seaweed as one thing: long, green and wavy. But there are so many different kinds; seaweeds of all shapes, sizes and colours! British Columbia has an incredible amount of seaweed biodiversity; there are over 530 varieties right here on the shores of Vancouver! (Bates 2004). A member of the algae family, seaweed is classified into three groups: green, red, or brown.

“Seaweeds of the Pacific Northwest is a guide to identifying 25 common seaweeds that we can find right where we live. Some are edible, some are beautiful, all play important roles in Pacific Ocean ecosystems. Next time you’re at the beach, try finding as many different seaweeds as you can. See if you can classify it by looking at its colour: is it a Chlorophyta (green), Rhodophyta (red), or Phaeophyta (brown)?

“Seaweed isn’t really a “weed”, a better word might be sea-vegetable. Seaweed (or sea-vegetable; start the movement!) is super nutritious, full of vitamins, minerals and iron. Nori is an edible seaweed that is part of the Rhodophyta (red) family. After it is harvested, it is shredded, pressed and dried into thin sheets, similar to how paper is made. Here is a recipe using nori sheets as the base ingredient; you can use any combo of your favourite veggies and/or protein for the filling for these rolls!”

Nori Rolls Recipe Card

May we all be inspired by these waves of justice to do the work to care for the Earth and each other.



Fresh Five: Marvelous Microbes!

Last week we talked a little bit about the tiniest inhabitants of our farms – the invertebrates, fungi, and bacteria that decompose plant and animal matter into the nutrients plants need to survive, which in turn become the nutrients we need to survive. But fungi and bacteria aren’t just breaking down the food in our compost, they are making the food in our kitchens and factories!

Like a lot of people, I took the ample time I’ve had in my home over the last few months to make a sourdough starter, and it’s been a wild ride figuring out how to develop and care for my own little colony of bacteria and yeasts (which are a type of fungus) so I can keep them happy and the use them to make some really delicious bread (and pancakes and crackers and biscuits and crumpets and…). Let’s just say, there’s been a lot of baking, and almost all of it has relied on microorganisms to happen.

And it’s not just breads. Fungi and bacteria are essential to making yogurt, cheese, sauerkraut, kimchi, soy sauce, chocolate, kombucha, tempeh, salami, and so much more. Humans have been employing the skills of bacteria and fungi to help us preserve foods for at least 13,000 years! So let’s raise a toast (fermented or not), to these marvelous microbes!

Here are five things to make to help you get to know our food microorganisms better.

Make it Rise


Wondering why you have to let regular bread dough rise, but you can whip up banana bread and pop it in the over right away? Curious where the holes in your bread come from? What’s the difference between baking powder and baking soda anyway? Looking for an alternate way to blow up balloons for your next party? Check out this activity and learn the secrets of leavening! This one is great for kids as young as kindergarten, and there’s an extension for older kids who really want to get scientific.

Uplifting Leavening Activity Guide


Make it Cultured

June 1 is World Milk Day! To celebrate both milk and microbes, there’s nothing better than yogurt! Yogurt is cultured, which in this case doesn’t mean it’s read all the books sitting on it’s “should read” pile. It means it’s a happy home to a number of strains of beneficial bacteria, which gives it it’s thickness and that tangy flavour. And best of all, it’s super easy to make at home! All you need is a pot, some jars, a food thermometer, milk, a little yogurt from the store, and a warm place. This recipe for the BC Dairy Association will get you started.  It’s really great with the rhubarb compote from our Stems week!)

Make Your Own Yogurt


Make it for Science

Photo by Bev Sykes, CC BY 2.0

Sourdough is having a moment right now. But what is it? While most breads are leavened with baker’s yeast, which can be purchased in packets or jars in the grocery store, sourdough is leavened using a starter culture of wild yeasts and helpful bacteria. Those yeasts and bacteria live all around us, and will find a happy home in some flour and water in your kitchen. The fun thing about sourdough is that the exact strains of yeasts and bacteria are different in different places. You may even have different microbes in different parts of your house! These helpful yeasts and bacteria out compete and harmful ones.

Even if you don’t want to get into sourdough baking, you can still make a starter for science. Sourdough for Science is a citizen science project collecting information about sourdough starters around the world. You follow their instructions to make a starter and collect data for 10 days, then submit you data online!

Sourdough for Science!

Make it Fermented

So many every day foods rely on fermentation, even ones you’d never think of. Hot sauce? Fermented. Chocolate? Fermented. Tea? Fermented. Soy sauce? Cultured with mold and then fermented. Here are some fun videos showing how a few common foods are made. How many fermented foods do you eat?

How Soy Sauce is Made
How Tabasco Sauce is Made
Cocoa Fermentation

Make Kimchi

One of our most exciting community workshops is You Can Kimchi! where we talk about fermentation and it’s importance to food, and make a simple kimchi recipe. It’s messy, spicy, and a lot of fun!

I always start by admitting that I didn’t learn how to make kimchi from a Korean mom, grandma, aunt, or other cultural knowledge keepers. I learned from the internet, from someone who did learn from a Korean mom. And if you have a kimchi maker in your family, you should definitely reach out to them for teaching! Traditionally, kimchi was made collectively by groups of women in an extended family, as it’s had to make just a small batch. Traditional kimchi also includes seafood in the form of fish sauce or shrimp paste, but I’ve left it out of this version to make it more allergy-friendly.

The recipe may look like a lot of ingredients and a lot of steps, but none of them are difficult. Try your local Asian grocery store for the gochugaru (ground red pepper) if you can’t find it where you regularly shop. You could use a different kind of ground chiles, but it won’t quite be kimchi.

The Lactobacillus bacteria that give kimchi it’s crunch, fizz and tang come from the different ingredients in the mix, including the cabbage and gochgaru.  Lactobacilli are anaerobic bacteria. That means they live and multiply where there’s no air. So for your kimchi to be kimchi, you need to use a mix of ingredients, and keep the air out by making sure your veggies are under the brine and there are no big air pockets in your jar.

Food Safety Note: While the lactobacilli are generally great at out competing for harmful fungi and bacteria, if your kimchi grows mold or smells bad, throw it out and don’t eat it!

Simple Kimchi Recipe Card

Happy Fermenting!



Fresh Five: Biodiversity

Happy International Day for Biological Diversity!

You didn’t know May 22 was the International Day for Biological Diversity? That’s OK. Neither did I when I started planning this week’s Fresh Five to be about biodiversity. Talk about good timing! We couldn’t let this special day go by without acknowledgement, so your Fresh Five is coming early so you can celebrate IDB (as the cool kids at the UN call it) with activities to help you think about biodiversity in your neighborhood, on the farm, and in the world.

Biodiversity is, essentially, all the different kinds of plants, animals, fungi, and microorganisms in an ecosystem. Having a wide variety of living things in a ecosystem makes it more resilient and able to handle change. As humans, like all animals, we rely on other living things for food, clothing, shelter, medicine, and more, meaning that maintaining healthy ecosystems isn’t just about keeping the oceans healthy for whales or the forest healthy for moose (though whales and moose are important!). It’s also about keeping the world healthy for us.

Here are five ways to explore and celebrate biodiversity this week.

Make an Ecosystem Web

Fresh Roots grown (mainly) vegetables on our schoolyard farms. Our farmers plant rows of peas, squash, chard, lettuce, parsley, and more. We can grow nearly 100 different varieties of plants in a single season! That might sounds like a lot of biodiversity, but plants and farmers are just a small part of the whole biological picture. Discover how everything from crows to fungus to the air around us contributes to the biodiversity of our farm. We do versions of this activity with kids as young as 8 all the way through adults. (Hint – making the web is only the start of the discussion!)

Farm Ecosystem Web Activity Guide


Be a Biodiversity Detective

Biodiversity isn’t just on the farm, though – it’s all around us! This activity from VanDusen Botanical Garden will help you seek out the biodiversity in you yard, neighborhood, or local park. You might use it on a casual stroll, or make it a game and see how many different living things your can find in 10 minutes. And if you find something you don’t recognize, this could be great time to pull out the Seek app from our Earth Day Fresh Five.

Biodiversity Detectives Teacher Guide
Biodiversity Detectives Student Worksheet


Join the Bird Blitz

Working primarily from home for the last couple of months has given me more insight on my neighborhood birds. There is a family of European starlings who nest in my neighbor’s rafters every spring (and wake me up at sunrise every day). The black-capped chickadees love to hang out on the apple tree in the backyard. The house finches and sparrows mostly stay across the alley in the blackberries, but will sometimes come over if there’s any weeds that have gone to seed. Crows come by occasionally, and on special days the neighborhood ravens will fly over. Gulls like to sit on the roof of the church behind my house, and every once in a while, a bald eagle can be spotted soaring overhead. And that’s just in my urban backyard without any sort of bird feeder!

Do you like watching your backyard birds? Scientists want to know what you’re seeing! The Schoolyard Bird Blitz is an annual bird survey organized by Birds Canada to get students looking for birds, and contributing to scientific knowledge about the prevalence of bird species across Canada. This year, they’ve switch gears from a Schoolyard Bird Blitz to a Backyard Bird Blitz so everyone can participate!

Bird Blitz at Home!

Build a Crow’s Nest

Crows can be trouble on the farm. They love yanking out newly planted started to get at the insects and worms in the freshly turned soil, and they’ve even been know to pull the protective covers off our plant babies. They dig trash out of the trash cans and throw it everywhere. And if you’ve ever walked under a crow’s nest during baby season, you’ve likely been dive bombed by the protective parents. But crows are also extremely intelligent tool-users, and will build relationships with humans who treat them kindly. (They are still wild animals, so please don’t try to make your neighborhood crow into a pet!) And, just like humans and other animals, they have complex relationships with the biodiversity of their ecosystems.

This activity from Science World will get you thinking like a crow! As you build you nest, think about what other types of life are necessary for crows to build their nests.

Crows Nest Activity

Make a Biodiverse Salad

I’m so glad that my local farmer’s market is open again! It was worth waiting in the long, physical-distanced line to get my local eggs, veggies, and a pastry treat. It will be even more exciting when Fresh Roots’ produce is available but that’s still a few weeks away. One of the things I got recently was some of the first local kale. I eat a lot of kale, in smoothies, sauteed with eggs, in pasta or soup, or in salads. Raw kale can be… a lot. Massaging your kale with a little salt, fat, and/or acid for a few minutes starts the mechanical process of breaking down those tough cell walls, making it easier for your body to digest, and makes it less bitter.

And there are so many ways you can top your massaged kale! I like a little red onion, feta, dried cranberries, grated carrots, and candied pecans in the fall, and snap peas, crumbled goat cheese, fresh strawberries, and toasted sliced almonds in the spring. Just like biodiversity is good for ecosystems, biodiversity of foods is good for our bodies! Different foods have different balances of of the energy and nutrients our bodies need to thrive, so mix up your salads, and have fun!

Massaged Kale Salad Recipe Card

Get out and celebrate diversity!



The Great Big Crunch: Making Noise for Healthy School Food!

The Great Big Crunch:
Making Noise for Healthy School Food!

For Immediate Release
March 3, 2020

Vancouver, BC– The Great Big Crunch is a national movement and annual moment of anti-silence in which students, teachers, parents and others passionate about food join the food movement and crunch into apples (or other crunchy fruit or vegetable) to make noise for healthy school food! Every year since 2008, Canadians from coast to coast to coast have participated in the Great Big Crunch, an initiative of FoodShare Toronto. Schools from across the country are coming up with exciting plans to make this year the loudest yet.

This year, with growing momentum for a National School Food Program and in alignment with the Nourish Kids Now campaign, 2020’s Great Big Crunch is an event not to be missed! Students, teachers, and advocates for healthy school food across the country will be crunching down on March 12th, though schools are invited to participate anytime in March. This is also a great way for schools to celebrate Nutrition Month.

“My class had a great time learning about the lifecycle of an apple, conducting apple experiments, and of course, crunching into some delicious apples to celebrate healthy food for every student!” Kaitlin Flemons, Grade 3 Teacher, Gilmore Community School, Burnaby, BC.

“This event is not only a fun way to celebrate local fruits and vegetables, but also an opportunity to show provincial and federal governments how excited students, teachers and school communities are about healthy food at school” Samantha Gambling, Project Coordinator, BC Chapter of the Coalition for Healthy School Food (BC-CHSF)

The Great Big Crunch is an initiative supported by the Coalition for Healthy School Food. The coalition is made up of over 120 organizations across Canada, including FoodShare Toronto, and is advocating for public investment in a universal, cost-shared, healthy national school food program that ensures all Canadian students have access to healthy food at school every day.

Local BC partners supporting to get the word out about the Great Big Crunch
2020 are Fresh Roots the BC Chapter of the Coalition for Healthy School Food,Kalum Community School Society (Terrace) and BC Agriculture in the Classroom Foundation

Follow along on social media #NourishKidsNow #GreatBigCrunch!

For more information about the Great Big Crunch Crunch, visit


Welcome to Fall!

Fall is here, she announced her name
And you can see her in this rain
This is time to harvest crops
and celebrate the bounty that drops.

Although the season on the farm is slowing down, that’s just the time that Fresh Roots is busy in the classroom and working with you to help prepare and grow. October is the time that we harvest the last of the bounty from the year. Beets, carrots, squash – the last of Summer’s sun is harvested in the fruits, stems, roots, leaves, and seeds of our plants on the farm and in the forest.  It’s also a time of mushroom growth – the mycelium that runs throughout our forests like a wood wide web, is pushing forth mushroom fruiting bodies to spread spores and grow.

It’s in this time that we take stock of what it means to have bounty. As farmer educators we try to emulate that in our work and our lives.  That happens in two key ways: First, we share. Whether that’s food from the farm or the infectious excitement about what can grow when youth are empowered.  This year, we’re sharing even more food through a program called LunchLAB, where youth at two schools learn how to grow, cook, and share lunch with 150 of their peers twice a week. We’re also helping share the magic of the Earth Sprit Healing Forest and Medicine Garden at the Suwa’lkh School in Coquitlam.  Set on over seven acres of land, we’re working with youth to reindigenize that land – remove the invasive species, plant native plants and medicines. We as an organization are learning from both the plants and place. And we acknowledge and are learning what it means to engage as a settler organization supporting and working to grow indigenous food systems. If you’re interested in learning more, check out what’s happening at Suwa’lkh.

The second is that we recognize that bounty exists – not just on the farm, but with the youth we work with. Youth have a tremendous amount of knowledge – both about the world as it is, as well as ideas on how to help make it a better place. Watching the global UN climate strikes, listening to the passion in our youth voices, and seeing the power of youth engagement, we recognize that youth have a bounty of energy and solutions to help make change that is so needed. Whether that is globally when it comes to climate change or at home, when it comes to helping their families, creating thriving communities, or sharing healthy food.  Helping everyone recognize the bounty that they walk with helps everyone to see their ability to affect positive change in the world.

This October, as Thanksgiving beckons and we harvest the energy of the sun, I encourage you to explore where you have bounty in your life. Might you be able to help share that bounty with someone else? You might have a wealth of experience that someone you know could benefit from.  It might mean sharing a favourite recipe with a friend. It might mean stopping by the Press Fest with two jars this year, one to share with a friend!

However you end up sharing your bounty, may this season fill you up.

We look forward to celebrating with you,

Marc and the Fresh Roots Farm Team!


East Van Press Fest

Pluck, Crush, Press, and Ingest!
It’s the 8th annual East Van Apple Press Fest!
We request of you to be our guests,
And make this fest a great success.

Come one, come all to this FREE event whose only purpose is to bring people together to make apple cider. This is a BYOJ event, so please bring your own jar and cup for hot cider, so you can take some home.

We’ll help you learn about the full process of making apple cider (that’s the same as apple juice, but unfiltered and no sugar added), and give you the skills to make your own apple cider.

Enjoy cider, local music, socializing, and the Champion Press Fest Off!

Where: Vancouver Technical Secondary School (at the farm near the tennis courts) at Slocan and Broadway. Here’s a map.

When: Saturday, October 26, 2016 from 11-3

Who: All are invited. Bring your family, bring your friends and BYOJ Bring your own jar to help take home the cider.

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