post

South Vancouver Harvest Fest 2021

Join South Vancouver Neighbourhood House and Fresh Roots for our Annual Harvest Fest featuring arts and crafts, grilled cheese sandwiches, harvest soup, games, prizes, and more!

When: Saturday, October 16th, 11 AM – 2 PM

Where: David Thompson Secondary School, 1755 E 55th Ave, Vancouver

What: Arts and crafts, farm tours, grilled cheese sandwiches, harvest soup, games, prizes and more!

All ages are welcome to this FREE event!

Rain or shine! Dress for the weather.

*compliance with COVID 19 protocols is required of all attendees and staff

 

We’re actively looking for volunteers for the event. If you are interested, sign up through this form.

post

Farmer’s Log, Seed Date October 1, 2021

Welcome to the final month of operation for the 2021 Fresh Roots Farm Season. This month we are undertaking lots of soil TLC so we have a nice, healthy biome in the spring, ready for our seeds and transplants. The only thing we actually plant this late in the season is Garlic. This year we will be filling an entire block (that’s 10 x 45ft beds) with lots of juicy amendments then planting the whole area with Russian Red Garlic. We’ll top them off with foraged seaweed and 6 bales of hay so they have a nice store of nutrients dissolving into the soil all winter until they decide to sprout up in the spring. There are a few beds we will leave to overwinter – like kale, chard, chicory, and a few other brassicas – but the rest we will amend and cover with silage for a nice winter nap. 

October is pretty solidly booked with school field trips on the farm. I’m hoping the youth will witness our system of putting the beds to sleep as a meaningful learning. It’s not just about smothering everything with big sheets of black plastic – it’s about protecting our soil from leaching and weeds all winter long so that we have an easier time in the spring. 

This month also closes out our final markets – October 13th is the last CSA Pickup as well as Market at the Italian Cultural Centre and October 23th will be the final market with VFM at Riley Park. Once our markets are shut, we clear the fields of any veggies that are left and either sell direct to restaurants or donate to local food hub programs. Right now I’m working on a partnership with David Thompson Secondary for a student-led program called the “Free Store” to get our donated veggies into students’ homes over the holidays. Otherwise we try to get our veggies into the weekly boxes at South Vancouver Neighbourhood House, or the low-cost market at Cedar Cottage Neighbourhood House.

Most of our fruiting vegetables have completely died back. That means no more eggplant, tomatoes, zucchini, cucumbers, or peppers. We have some straggling last beans which is kind of shocking to me, but they’ll only last another week or two before they rot in this fall rain. Our flowers are melting off their stems while broccoli and Gailan pump out their last straggling sideshoots so we can bundle them up as broccolini for our final CSA Veggie Box. The transformation of the farm from a beautiful, buzzing production zone into a state of decay is marvellous to me. It means it’s time to slow down and introspect – and it’s so healthy to take stock of what needs work. Looking forward to doing the same for my own damn self, especially in light of this new holiday commemorating one of the Calls to Action for Truth and Reconciliation. 

With production out of the way, Piper and I will be able to focus on winterizing and tidying up the farm. I am so excited to have a clean slate this spring and looking forward to some possible new toys like a rolling flame weeder and a fancy tiller – that’s what I’m asking the Fresh Roots’ Santa for this Christmas, anyway. Another big wish on my list is for more weekday volunteers in 2022 to help us tackle weeds on a weekly basis. With changes in our programming, our SOYL participants weren’t able to support us at our site at David Thompson. This meant the farmers who are dedicated to cultivation had to divide their time between maintenance and seeding; I bet you can guess which task got priority.

That’s pretty much October for Fresh Roots’ Farm team in a nutshell – looking forward to slowing down and taking stock in the months to come. Thanks for a wonderful summer season!

-Farmer Camille

post

#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.

post

#SOYLyouth 2021 – Fiona

by Fiona Sutherland, SOYL Vancouver Mentor

As a mentor, I have loved seeing the growth and change this wonderful program has brought to not only my crewmates, but me as well. Watching everyone come out of their shells, take interest in farming, help the community, and expand their social circles has been so inspirational! Getting to know our wonderful SOYL youth this summer has been quite exciting, especially from a mentor point of view. I feel as if I have a lot more appreciation for the change and growth, I have seen from day one to now! Seeing the growth in myself is also incredibly exciting. I feel as if I learn more and more every year and I am so grateful for the opportunities this program has provided me with. My confidence in my own leadership skills is continuously growing as I receive feedback from our wonderful facilitators and help build on my current abilities. 

SOYL provides such an inclusive and fun environment to learn in, and this summer has helped me develop and foster crucial life and leadership skills. For example, I now find it much easier to take charge and help lead bigger groups. I feel a lot less afraid to give others gentle reminders and to step fully into my leadership position! SOYL has given me the confidence to trust my own decisions, leadership related or otherwise. I truly appreciate how SOYL brings hundreds of youth opportunities that are few and far between in our education system – not only does the program help prepare us for the workforce, but it gives us valuable information about the outside world and how to stand out amongst our diverse and talented peers. SOYL teaches youth how to bring positive change to our society, no matter big or small.

Learn more about the SOYL program HERE.

post

Farmer’s Log, Seed Date July 1, 2021

July 1st. Wait, what? It’s J U L Y ? It’s July and the kale has exploded along with the weeds. I’m so thankful for our hard-working team (not just the farm workers!) and the handful of volunteers who have joined us in liberating our crops from the overwhelm of hungry, green-leaved neighbours. Fresh Roots has a few hungry neighbours of the human variety, too, which has made an impact on our yields. The unique pressures of Urban Farming continue to surface as we try our best to fulfil commitments to our CSA members, Markets, Programming, the Community Eats Program, Lunch Lab, and Donor Recipients such as South Vancouver Neighbourhood Food Hub. All of this is to say, I feel the theme of the past month has been about Community. 

Community

The Fresh Roots Community is blooming into the Summer Queen that she is. All of the youth hired under the Canada Summer Jobs contracts are trained up and ready to operate the Fresh Roots Summer Kingdom (aka Farm). By the second week of July, we’ll have SOYL (Sustainable Opportunities for Youth Leadership) participants growing, learning and leading at three sites, keen to pull weeds and distribute wood chips (I can’t wait to utilize those hands!) and harvest veggies for the market. 

Our Community Supported Agriculture Program is in its 5th week, now, getting our lovely greens and roots into the hands of thoughtful consumers who know their investment is supporting not only the operation of our farm, but also our programming to employ youth and teach kids about agriculture and themselves. It has been a pleasure to put the faces to the names on our CSA sheet and watch as our vegetable babies find their forever homes… in your mouths, I guess?

We attend two markets with two distinct but wonderful communities: Saturdays at Riley Park we connect with the market-goers, organizers and vendors that make up the incredible Vancouver Farmers Market; and on Wednesdays our market is hosted by the ever-generous folks at the Italian Cultural Centre. The ICC market community ‘feel’ is definitely different this season than last – yes, that means the pizza and wine are missing. That is because the ICC is putting their effort into supporting the community in another way: they are hosting an epic vaccination site, seeing an average of 1600 members of our community get vaccinated each day. So while I’m sad that we don’t get a slice of pizza, I’m happier still that we are overcoming this virus with the support of places like the ICC. 

Other amazing community experiences include ogling all the adorable dogs that are walked around the periphery of the farms, connecting with our curious neighbors, playing I-spy with neighbourhood kids, chatting with students who attend the schools where we farm, and staff sharing a lunch of Fresh Roots Salad Mix with that tasty yeast dressing we all love. 

I haven’t even touched the tip of the iceberg that is the support and connection happening between the coreteam members of Fresh Roots! It seriously takes so much teamwork to adorn our Lady Fresh Roots with the glory she deserves. It takes meetings — so. many. meetings — and so much planning, and phone calls, and notes and communication boards to make sure all the cogs are turning in time between each department. There is also a lot of: “who does what?” in this organization, as she evolves and transitions into something new, it seems like every moment. 

So, yeah. We get weedy, and stuff gets stolen, but the trade off for working in a supportive community is totally worth it.

-Farmer Camille

post

Scout List Vol. 571 | Scout Magazine- Help

Scout List Vol. 571

By Michelle Sproule | October 15th, 2020

HELP | Like the idea of mucking about outside on a schoolyard farm? Fresh Roots schoolyard market farm is looking for volunteers to help with a variety of farm tasks including weeding, moving compost, and spreading wood chips to help protect gardens for the winter. A little fresh air, some elbow grease, and a dose of community spirit — sounds like a good way to get grounded! There are three volunteer workdays this month. In order to manage numbers to meet with social distancing protocols, volunteers are asked to register in advance. You can do that here.

https://scoutmagazine.ca/2020/10/15/scout-list-vol-571/

post

Menu for Fresh Roots’ Schoolyard Harvest Dinner Announced

July 28, 2020 | Scout Vancouver

Vancouver, BC | With less than two weeks left to score yourself mid-August feast from some of the region’s top producers, in support of a fantastic program. From the Fresh Roots team:

For this extra-special year, we are creating summer harvest boxes filled with everything you’ll need to create a beautiful summertime meal experience to share with friends, family, or your colleagues at home or in a location of your choice. The box will include fresh and chef-prepared ingredients for a simple and delicious meal to finish at home and thoughtful accoutrements like wine and flowers for the table. Menu created by Chef Natasha Sawyer and TJ Conwi.

Funds generated from the dinner directly benefit its SOYL (Sustainable Opportunities Youth Leadership) program, which engages and empowers youth.

Menu

Amuse Bouche
Profiteroles stuffed with Fresh Roots herbs and goat cheese, accompanied by candied Agassiz hazelnuts and wine compressed figs.

Charcuterie
A meat and veggie option with either a selection of charcuterie from Legends Haul or Végé-Pâté and spreadable dips from Saltspring Harvest and pickled vegetables from Cropthorne Farm, Zaklan Heritage Farm and Fresh Roots

Main
Sous vide Organic Ocean Seafood sockeye and Legends Haul sirloin masala, Fresh Roots harvest salad, zucchini palak paneer terrine, carrot vindaloo vinaigrette, atchara relish, and wheatberries

Dessert
Summer Cheesecake with raspberry coulis from Olera Organic Farms

Beverages
Choice of a bottle of red or white wine from Marquis Wine Cellars cans of 33 Acres Brewing Company Sunshine French Blanchè beer and kombucha from Bucha Brew

Accoutrements
a bouquet of flowers for the table, cookies from Susgrainable surprises created by our SOYL youth program participants, and more.

Info and tickets: freshroots.ca/harvestdinner

https://scoutmagazine.ca/2020/07/28/menu-for-fresh-roots-schoolyard-harvest-dinner-announced/?fbclid=IwAR0GhHVWWjgqkh9lVlubtxgYR0uR5c-7-CTEw2RL9EZp17eRhb62GOVaeWs

post

Fresh Roots on The Conversation Lab -Co-op Radio Vancouver

Our fearless Interim Executive Director, Alexa Pitoulis, chats about all things Fresh Roots on The Conversation Lab with Don Shafer produced by CFRO FM (Co-op Radio Vancouver). Thanks so much for the opportunity to share a little bit about what we are up to these days and how we adapted our LunchLAB in-school meal program along with our partner Growing Chefs! to offer students and families meals out of school during this uncertain time.
Vancouver Co-op Radio CFRO To learn more or to donate visit www.lunchlab.ca

Listen to “Alexa Pitoulis – Freshroots Urban Farm Society” on Spreaker.

post

COVID-19: Food educators, chefs pumping out thousands of meals for people in need

Randy Shore

https://vancouversun.com/news/covid-19-food-educators-chefs-pumping-out-thousands-of-meals-for-people-in-need/wcm/ed146a8f-a077-4103-84b3-1f6b5ae935da/

There is no shortage of hungry people to feed in a city hobbled by the COVID-19 lockdown and that has spawned a massive network of people working for the common good.

LunchLAB launched last year to show kids how to grow and prepare food and by spring break more than 40 students had rotated through their cook’s training program, feeding 180 of their classmates twice a week.

So, when in-class instruction was suspended across B.C., the partners — Fresh Roots Urban Farm Society, Growing Chefs!, Vancouver school board, and Ono Vancouver chef TJ Conwi — quickly pivoted to provide meals to hundreds of families.

That’s more than 5,500 meals a week for families identified by the VSB’s youth and family workers, said Alexa Pitoulis, interim executive director of Fresh Roots.

“We weren’t sure what we would do going into spring break, but our brains started turning and we worked out a way to support the school board’s effort to feed families that would have been benefiting from school lunch programs,” she said.





The Vancouver Sun Children’s Fund Adopt-A-School program contributed $20,000 through the VSB to help scale-up the renamed LunchLAB: Chefs for Families.When Pitoulis reached out to Mario Micelli, executive director of the Italian Cultural Centre, for some kitchen space he did them one better, offering up the Centre’s spacious catering kitchen and the ballroom, where food is packaged for pickup and delivery.“We have a large commercial kitchen where people can work and maintain social distancing,” he said“We were already in a partnership with Fresh Roots supporting distribution of school-grown food for families to pick up and we love that because there is nothing more Italian than preparing way too much food and sharing it with family and friends,” said Micelli. “I can’t believe the huge number of volunteers that have come out to accomplish all this.”ICC chef Jackson Noah and his team are also working for the cause.Food suppliers Yen Bros. and Gordon Food Service have supplied pallet after pallet of surplus food to keep the operation flush with raw materials.“They way people have come together to help out vulnerable families has been incredibly satisfying for us to be a part of,” said Micelli.You can make tax-deductible donations to LunchLAB through Fresh Roots or Growing Chefs!The Italian Cultural Centre is supplying ready-to-eat meals to the Grandview-Woodland Food Connection and Britannia Community Centre for people living in isolation.Conwi is also operating a satellite kitchen generously offered by Pacific Restaurant Supply, where he had been cooking for displaced restaurant workers.

“PRS said yeah, you can keep cooking here and lent me the space,” he said. “So, we just started cooking for people, whoever needs it, in the Downtown Eastside and we just kept scaling up.”

That food is flowing out to the LunchLAB: Chefs for Families program, the Aboriginal Mother Centre, and the Carnegie Community Action Project, which recently received 300 pizzas and 200 tubs of macaroni and cheese.

The commercial kitchen at The Dirty Apron has been serving up 2,000 meals a week since the cooking school and deli were put on hiatus.

Chef David Robertson and many of his staff are donating their time to prepare free meals for seniors who cannot safely leave their homes, residents of SRO hotels and other vulnerable communities. They are working in collaboration with the City of Vancouver, Vancouver Community College and Whole Way House.

Robertson’s crew is also supplying meals to frontline workers at Vancouver General Hospital and St. Paul’s Hospital through Feed the Frontline.

Salmon farmers Cermaq Canada, Grieg Seafood, Mowi Canada and Golden Eagle Aquaculture are donating 27,000 kilograms of salmon to food banks on Vancouver Island.

About 10,000 British Columbians depend on food banks and that demand is rising, according to Laura Lansink, executive director of Food Banks B.C.

“In some instances, numbers have already doubled and we’re seeing line ups grow longer, yet food donations are down. Some people who were donors are now food bank recipients,” she said. “It’s a very stressful situation for our food banks and we anticipate we will feel the repercussions of this for one or two years into the future.”

rshore@postmedia.com