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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

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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!

 

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Salmon at Suwa’lkh!

There’s a steam running through the woods at our Suwa’lkh site that used to be the spawning ground for many salmon. But now, because of overfishing, invasive species and pollution, very few salmon spawn there.

However, the students at Suwa’lkh have been rehabilitating the forest (including the stream) AND reintroducing salmon to the stream!

Photo by Meggan Crawford

Last January, Meggan Crawford’s class got chum salmon eggs from the Hyde Creek Watershed Society and raised the salmon in their class as part of the Salmon in the Classroom program.

The students named the first salmon to hatch Beyoncé, and because there were 55 salmon to hatch, they were collectively called 55th Harmony.

The students fed and took care of the salmon, learning about the stages of salmon life, creating info to share with fellow students, and even making signs for the stream.

Photo by Vanessa Perrodou

Finally, in May, the students released the salmon into the stream and read pieces they’d written at a ceremony with Indigenous elders and members of the Kwikwetlem First Nation.

In the fall, everyone was excited to see that salmon returned to the stream to spawn!

This is a sign that the rehabilitation work we’ve all be doing together has been worthwhile and it’s also a good sign for the coming years. It’s also encouraging us to double the work we’re doing to support the youth in leading the way to reindigenize this forest.

In two years, the youth’s own salmon will also return to the Suwa’lkh stream to spawn their own babies!

In the meantime, we just got our new batch of salmon eggs for this year, and the leadership program students are starting to take care of them already! Here’s to another salmon-y year!

Suwalkh’s Freshroots Garden

Here at Suwalkh Fresh Roots Gardens, our youth have been working hard to maintain the farm: harvesting vegetables, making beds, and much more. Our little team at Suwalkh has come along way since the beginning of the summer, we are excited to see this Garden thrive! We have been learning lots about healthy eating, gardening, and life styles. As well as forest restoration in our Suwalkh Earth Healing Spirit Forest, pulling out invasive plants. We can’t wait to see how much we have accomplished by the end of the program!

The last month and a half, we have been working in the garden building beds and making spaces to grow more! The youth have also been painting signs for our garden! We have Broccoli, Beets, Swiss chard, Tomatoes, Buk choy, Potatoes, Garlic, Peppers, Lettuce and much more! We’ve recently seeded white sage and big lupin. Carrie Clark also taught us how to harvest tobacco and dry it out for ceremonial purpose.

In the Suwalkh Earth Healing Spirit Forest we have been learning about invasive plants such as Japanese Knot Weed, English Holly, English Ivy and English Laurel. Every day the youths work in the forest pulling out these invasive plants! The Forest is Suwalkh’s outdoor education class room. We will be having science class in the forest and on beautiful days we sit out there to do our school work!

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Strawberries – That’s what we are all really after…

Strawberry – Everbearing

At the Suwa’lkh School program we propagate native plants with the students both for sale and to help rehabilitate and reindiginize our forest. In the future we will have native varieties of this delicious berry, but for now we have loads of these everbearing cultivated plants!

Physical properties: Perrenial small bush (20cm diameter) with large, juicy, red strawberries. Will send runners and establish a patch if left alone.

Preferred conditions: Dry heads, wet feet. Prefferably no more than one plant per sq. foot. Mulch will prevent fruit rot. Sunny loaction is best. Will die back in winter, but come up again in spring.

Edibility: YEAH! (but don’t tell the kids…)

For best results, replace every 4th year with new runners as old plants are less productive.

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Large Leaf Lupine – Native Wildeflower of beauty and fame!

Large Leaf Lupine – Lupinus Poliphyllus

At the Suwa’lkh School program we propagate native plants with the students both for sale and to help rehabilitate and reindiginize our forest. This one is just too beautiful not to spread around!

Physical properties: Perennial, upright, up to 1.5m high

Preferred conditions: Moist to wet open habitats (sea shores, streamside, meadows, disturbed sites). Low elevations. Likes sun, will die back in fall and come right back in spring!

Edibility: Wild lupin contain toxins – Not edible

First Nation Uses: Unknown

Beautiful purple flower heads, fixes nitrogen, self seeding.

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Kinnikinnick – Native ground cover to outlast them all!

Kinnikinnick; Bearberry, Coastal; Arctostaphylos uva-ursi

At the Suwa’lkh School program we propagate native plants with the students both for sale and to help rehabilitate and reindiginize our forest. This amazing ground cover is not just beautiful, but has been used in many ways by First Nations all throughout the area.

Physical properties: Perennial, trailing groundcover, evergreen, 20cm tall, bright red fruit

Preferred conditions: Sandy and well drained exposed sites, dry rocky slopes, dry forest and clearings, from low elevation to alpine tundra. Does not need much of anythig but sun and space, will tolerate our winters no problem!

Edibility: Edible but mealy and rather flavourless, leaves were used for medicine (see below)

First Nation Uses: Dried leaves smoked as a part of a smoking mix. The leaves were  chewed on to suppress thirst. Kinnikinnick fruit berries were also mashed to create a sealant on baskets.

In terms of medicinal use, the leaves were infused (by steeping them in water just above the boiling point to make tea) and drink it as tonic. This infusion could also be used as mouthwash for canker sores or weak gums. It was also made into a decoction (made by boiling the plant material in water) and drunk for colds and Tuberculosis. This decoction could also be used as wash for broken bones. Moreover, decoction of Kinnikinnick was used as eye medicine for sore eyes. Amongst the Haida, the leaves were used as a diuretic in kidney diseases and infections of the urinary passages.

 

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Salal – a Native Plant you all want to know!

Salal – Gaultheria Shallon

At the Suwa’lkh School program we propagate native plants with the students both for sale and to help rehabilitate and reindiginize our forest. One of our favorites, this one has an incredible fruit!

Physical properties: Bushy perennial, 0.2-5 m tall (layering and suckering) – will grow into the space it has available.

Preferred conditions: Sunny edges of coniferous forests, rocky bluffs, to the seashore. Does not require watering once established. Winter hardy, just plant and forget till fruit is ready! Low to medium elevations.

Edibility: Berries are edible and delicious! Great for Jam, ripen in August

First Nation Uses: One of the most plentiful and important fruits for the northwest coast first nations people. Eaten both fresh and dried into cakes. The Kwakwaka’wakw ate the ripe berries dipped in oolichan grease at large feasts. For trading or selling, the salal berries were mixed with currants, elderberries, or unripe salal berries. The berries were also used to sweeten other foods and the Haida used salal berries to thicken salmon eggs. The young leaves were chewed as a hunger suppressant by the Ditidaht. The leafy branches were used in pit-cooking, and cooked as a flavouring in fish soup.