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Grandview Garden

Grandview¿uuqinak’uuh Elementary Garden Happenings

At Grandview¿uuqinak’uuh Elementary School, we are in full swing with spring growth. This is the perfect time to look back at the seeds we’ve planted since the beginning of the year to get to this point where the students are harvesting, cooking, and connecting with the native plants growing.

We are fortunate to receive funding from Vancouver Coastal Health which allows for me to spend two days at the school teaching and cooking with the students. Every student at Grandview¿uuqinak’uuh Elementary School spends at least 30 minutes a week learning outdoors in the garden. Many more spend even more time helping out in the garden at recess!

I’ve been learning right alongside the students. In fall, we learned alongside the school’s Indigenous Education Enhancement Worker how to harvest and dry medicinal tobacco and sage leaves to share with our local community. We noticed how the seasons changed and that nothing is better than raking the biggest leaf pile and jumping in it (teachers included!) We learned that plants make seeds, which we can harvest and save for future years. We celebrated the harvest season by learning to cut apples with knives and making pumpkin granola bites.

In winter, we learned about the water cycle and that we can create creeks and lakes in our schoolyard. We learned what creatures live in the garden and how they store food for the winter. We reintroduced the beloved salad bar and cooked kale chips, delicate squash, and many salad dressings. We shared pride in cooking and sharing a meal together and found joy in trying new foods. We celebrated Lunar New Year by cooking dumplings and thinking about how other cultures ring in the new year.

Class taco lunch! Every student helped make this lunch possible by chopping vegetables, shredding lettuce, grating cheese, and setting the table.

And now, here we are in spring. We’ve planted our garden with old and new favourites. We’ve cared for our worms, making them many houses, and learned to conserve water. Right now, we’re in the midst of watching our strawberries get pollinated and begin to grow their new fruit. We’re learning about our local native plants by making medicinal teas. Soon, we will wrap up our school year with a month of harvesting for salads, spring rolls, and pesto which we will cook outside.

Medicinal plant teas, complete with chive straws and dandelion umbrellas. Tea includes flower red currant flowers, oregon grape leaves, Nootka rose petals, lemon balm, and mint.

Spending time in the garden connects us with the land. Many students share that the garden is their favourite place at school. It’s the place they can get messy, make “candies” to share out of leaves and flowers, care for the plants and animals, and learn hands-on. We’re grateful for the opportunity, time and funding to fully give back, connect, enjoy and engage with the land.

One class is participating in FarmFolk CityFolk’s citizen seed trial. They are growing, observing and collecting data on different types of peas, turnips and radishes. Soon we will do our taste tests to share with scientists which varieties are the yummiest and healthiest.

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It’s Your Turn! Complete the Federal Government’s Questionnaire about a National School Food Policy

By Alexa Pitoulis, Executive Director

If you’re reading this you’ve likely heard the shocking news that Canada is the only G7 without a federally funded universal school food plan and that Canada is ranked 37th of 41 countries on providing healthy food for kids. Fresh Roots, alongside so many other organizations, parents, teachers, grandparents, municipalities have come together through the work of the National Coalition on Healthy School Food and here in British Columbia the BC Chapter of the Coalition. 

Photo credit: Chef TJ Conwi, LunchLAB Lord Roberts

 

Now is the time for you to have your voice heard! The federal government has launched a consultation process for the development of the National School Food Policy. This is the first time in over 60 years that school food policy has been discussed at the federal level. 

 

Everyone can participate by completing the questionnaire by December 16, 2022: https://www.canada.ca/en/employment-social-development/programs/school-food/consultation-school-food.html

 

Not sure what to say? Or looking for some more info?

  • Check out the Coalition for Healthy School Food’s Guiding Principles.
  • Join the  “Amplifying Our Voices” Workshop to be held on Monday December 12, 2022 between noon and 1pm EST. Hosted by the Coalition for Healthy School Food, this interactive workshop will allow people to complete the form during the session or to complete it by their organization at a later time. Register here.
  • Learn about the evidence and impacts of farm to school. (Reference: Farm to Cafeteria Canada)

For over a decade, Fresh Roots, has been demonstrating through our schoolyard farms and experiential learning programs how a comprehensive, farm to school approach to a national school food policy would have incredible benefits resulting in huge social and economic returns on investment. Thank YOU for being part of this community!

I’m feeling so optimistic about the momentum we currently have towards a federally supported, universal, comprehensive school food policy. Just in the last few weeks I’ve:

  • Participated in 2 National roundtable discussions with the Honourable Karina Gould, Minister of Families, Children and Social Development, and the Honourable Marie-Claude Bibeau, Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food.
  • Shared with and learned from colleagues across the province in Victoria at the BC School Food Network Gathering.
  • Read the recent report titled A Universal School Food System for BC put out by The Single Mothers’ Alliance. The research brief shares the perspectives of low-income BC parents on the existing school food programs and builds the case for the universal school food system in British Columbia.
  • Spoke to a 3rd year class at Simon Fraser University about our work and the importance of a new approach to school food in Canada.
  • Spoke to at least two Master’s level researchers who are exploring school-food costing and farm to school related topics of study!

Caption: Alexa digging into a discussion topic with provincial colleagues at the Nov 9th BC School Food Network Gathering in Victoria

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Vancouver Magazine September/October 2022

Published on 

Engaging articles, reviews and stories all about Vancouver. Vancouver Magazine informs, guides and entertains people who engage with the city. Mixing quality journalism and service-driven pieces, it chronicles and reflects Vancouver’s emergence as a dynamic international city.

Page 24:

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FARMER’S LOG, SEED DATE OCTOBER 26, 2022

It’s time to wrap things up on the farm. We had our last market of the season on Saturday and final CSA pickup the week before. Even though our plants aren’t melting away like they usually do at this time of the year, they have stopped producing and are ready for their next stage of life and death in the compost. 

While Fresh Roots winterizes the farms, we are also looking for someone to replace me during my parental leave in 2023. This person will be starting early in the year and working all season, overlapping with my return at the end of the summer. I’m hoping to find a person who will want to continue working with Fresh Roots for many years to come after I’m back. So, in an effort to recruit someone awesome, I’ve decided to use this blog entry to give a little breakdown of my position during peak season, and make it easier for folks to imagine themselves here

Farm Manager: Season Overview

The FR core team spends the winter strategizing on how to make things smooth, fun, and true to our overall mission. This makes spring feel totally fresh and exciting. The first thing the farm manager does is review the crop plan, count the seeds, and place a seed order. Then, there’s organizing the spaces, figuring out what compost and amendments are needed, and spending more money (provided by early season CSA purchases)  on all the good stuff. Seeds for our long-season crops need to be started either in the ‘grow-op’ in our storage space at the office, or in the prop house in the courtyard of David Thompson. Direct seeding starts at the end of February, so a portion of the farm’s beds need to be prepped and amended in preparation.

Next is hiring the farm team. The team looks a little different every year depending on where we are farming, but for the Vancouver site, I hire the following positions: 1) Market Lead, 2) David Thompson Field Lead, 3) Van Tech Field Lead, and 4) SOYL Jr Market Assistant. There may also be volunteers,  interns and LFS students who need to be onboarded, too. 

By May, all these folks should have their schedules and start a 5-week training program to get familiar with their responsibilities. This means that by the middle of June and the start of the CSA pickup, the staff and volunteers know what’s up and can graduate to beginning their leadership phase. This marks the start of Peak Season when we all need to work together as an oiled machine to meet our goals. By the first week of July, our summer youth internship program starts up, and SOYL youth will be directed by the farm workers in farm and market tasks for 6 weeks. 

A Week in the Boots of a Farm Manager

Here’s what my week looked like in 2022’s peak season, keeping in mind that 2023 may look differently depending on which markets we sign-up for, how we structure our CSA, and who is helping us harvest:

Monday: Admin and Communications 

This work can either be done on the Fresh Roots computers in our office or from home on the farm manager’s personal computer. I usually work from home with my cat on my lap and a steamy mug of tea. 

  • Email, orders, payments, newsletters, blog
  • Data entry of harvest, sales & CSA records from the previous week
  • 15-minute visits to the sites to see what veggies are coming up and making lists of what needs to be done
  • This week’s harvest planning for CSA and Market. Record plans in the Harvest Plan and CSA Plan documents
  • Field work plans for the week plus delegation of seeding & transplanting plans and ensuring data entry has been done
  • Work plan emailed to all the farm team including links to Field Work, CSA & Harvest Plans
  • Communicating in slack with all the other departments in Fresh Roots about what kids can do on the farm, and where we might need help. This means making clear plans with facilitators and managers in: Experiential Learning (EL), Sustainable Opportunities for Youth leadership (SOYL), & our Administrators (ED, Ops, and Comms). 
  • Fresh Sheet for EL so they can plan their farm lunches for day camp (feeds 40 kids)
  • Expense reporting
  • Review & approve the farm team’s hours if it’s the end of a pay period

Tuesday – Harvest Day

  • 730am: meet at David Thompson to harvest tender veggies
  • 1130am: ICC cooler – drop off harvest and eat lunch
  • 1-3pm: Van tech harvest of fruiting veggies / hot crops
  • 3-330pm: drop off harvest at the ICC cooler

Wednesday – Market Day & CSA Pickup #1

  • 730am: harvest flowers & any remaining harvest needed for CSA or Market
  • 1130am: pick up our bread order and maybe mushroom order
  • Lunch!
  • 1-330pm: help set up the market (operates 3-7)  with the Market Lead and whoever is helping out that day; either another farm team member, SOYL Youth, or volunteers

Thursday – Harvest Day

  • 730am: David Thompson
  • 1130am: ICC Cooler
  • Lunch!
  • 1-3pm: Van Tech
  • 3-330pm: ICC cooler

Friday – Field Work, Remaining Harvest & CSA Delivery for Pickup #2

  • 730am: complete any necessary harvest for CSA Pickup / Saturday market. Otherwise field work! 230 CSA Delivery to Collingwood Neighbourhood House for their “Community Care Veggie Box” program
  • 330pm: finished!

Saturday – VFM Market 

OFF!

Sunday – Everybody takes a day of rest!

OFF!

Wrapping Up the Season

Once the farm team’s summer contracts are over – usually at the end of August – one of the workers will stay on through the fall to help wrap up the CSA & markets and to winterize the farm. In 2023, I’ll be back to help the acting FM wrap things up. Together, we’ll write the crop plan for 2024 and work on the end-of-season reporting. We’ll also staff any remaining markets together, likely adjusting our schedules to Tuesday to Saturday. 

There are many other pieces of work that aren’t explicitly outlined in my weekly schedule – like all the planning and training that happens, community outreach events, volunteer events, tours, and workshops I lead. These bits and bobs are usually crammed into Mondays or Fridays, or woven into harvest days. Volunteer and youth training is also delegated to the farm team members during their field work time. Overseeing the schedules of each farm team member can be a jigsaw puzzle, noting that each member has their own domain to manage and it’s up to the Farm Manager to make sure responsibilities are fulfilled and deadlines are being met so we can meet our CSA and Market commitments. It’s also up to the Farm manager to make sure that mentorship is happening across the organization – so that the farm team members are supported and empowered to teach youth the skills they’ve acquired in their first 5 weeks. 

Peak Season is incredibly dense but it’s a lot of fun. All of the folks working on the farm are youth – from the farm team to the 4-year old campers in the EL program. There is so much life and energy to play with in this job, and I hope whoever is looking for that kind of fun will apply!

– Farmer Camille

Do you have what it takes to be our Acting Good Farm Manager in 2023? Apply here: https://freshroots.bamboohr.com/careers/53

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Farm Fresh Cooking

On every Fresh Roots farm this summer, children and youth are harvesting fresh veggies and cooking up a feast! So what are we cooking? 

 

Salad Mondays

Or any day! We love a hearty ginormous salad to kick off our week. Sometimes we make it in a bowl, other times in a tote bin the size of a small bathtub. Add in heaps of salad greens, swiss chard stems, chopped hakurei turnips, and sprinkle on edible flowers. Then we top it all with our Fresh Roots Famous Salad Dressing. Bon appetite!

 

Snack Attack

We love our snacks. It’s hard not to snack as you farm. Throughout the week you’ll find us in an indoor or outdoor kitchen whipping up batches of beet brownies, flower fritters, pesto, and the well-loved smoothie. 

 

Community Eats

After cooking all morning, nothing beats sitting down to a fresh meal with friends. Every week there is a new community eats menu. We’ve had tacos, chana masala, soba noodles, and more!

 

Test out the black bean taco recipes for your next group meal!

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FARMER’S LOG, SEED DATE AUGUST 12, 2022

Here I am, about two weeks late, at 6:30am on a Friday making another attempt at August’s farm blog. It’s not that I don’t enjoy telling a story – those who know me or have sat at a table in one of the restaurants I’ve worked at have their ears coated in my poetic wax. I just haven’t had a minute to catch my breath. It’s peak season! 

If you follow FR on the socials, you may have learned that I have a growing obsession with flowers. Nicole (the David Thompson Field Lead) and I have been churning out about 15 bouquets every Wednesday to bring joy to our market stand. It has been a blast to share these blooms with our marketgoers at the ICC – and see their eyes light up when they land on the bursts of colour by the till. I’m hoping that next year we can get SOYL participants learning about flower arranging – and maybe bring in an expert at the beginning of the season to lead a workshop. If you know an expert florist or are one yourself and would love to lead a workshop with youth next summer, please reach out to me – camille@freshroots.ca! We would also love to install some garden-helper mushrooms in the woodchip & straw paths (I’m thinking King stropharia and oyster) so if you’ve got some spawn, let me know. 

SOYL just wrapped up their last day yesterday! 6 weeks of youthful exuberance filled the beds at Van Tech and now those sweet almost-adults have left us in the dust. To commemorate, our final Community Eats lunch on Wednesday was epic: everyone gorged on handmade tacos with extensive fillings and then two vegetable cakes: one chocolate zucchini; the other beet and oat. We then rounded out the very last SOYL-attended market at the ICC. Fresh Roots feels completely different without the youth buzzing around, so I’m thankful that EL still has camps for another 2.5 weeks. Overhearing the young kids’ hilarious conversations in the shade of the cherry blossom trees at David Thompson is the cherry on top of harvest days. Here’s an example I pulled from our #overheardatcamp channel on slack:

“Chef doodle I want to eat your face off because everything you make is so yummy”

Or, perhaps, about a really big pregnant (?) ant: “she could be moving house or mad”

I especially enjoyed the pregnant comment, as I am housing a sweet little human in my own body, and agree that yes, being pregnant sure has made me mad, especially while harvesting on black plastic in a heat wave. My ankles will never be the same again.

Although our youth programs are trickling to an end, there are lots of things on the horizon. On Wednesday, August 17th, the ICC and Fresh Roots are going to be hosting guest vendors at our market. There will be Mexican food, Egyptian hand pies, local tea, and natural soaps and cleaning products. For more information on these vendors tune into our socials @freshrootsfarms

The farm team is wrapping up their CSJ contracts, which breaks my heart as well. But it means that mid-August is the end of our seeding and the start of putting the beds to sleep for the winter. We will be sowing cover crop, unfolding silage, planting garlic, and mulching with straw. It reminds me of bears building a den for the winter. The prospect of the fall with sweet cool wind on the horizon and mushrooms popping up is a real delight, being a fall baby myself. I’ll also be taking a week off to revitalize in the cedars for my birthday, which I am coveting with my whole heart. 

Working with youth on this farm is inspiring, wonderful and hilarious. That said, being a non-profit that relies so heavily on Canada Summer Jobs grants to employ Fresh Roots’ farm staff is an epic challenge. Especially with this season being so late. The limitations of CSJ end dates mean that we are only half way through our 20-week CSA and haven’t harvested a single red heirloom tomato while our workers’ contracts are wrapping up. In Vancouver, Fresh Roots grows tomatoes in the field, without a cover, so this wretchedly slow start to the season has prevented most of our fruiting veg from ripening. And although our markets have been busy and sell out, we have only half the stock variety we usually do, so our sales remain about 30% lower than last season. So with the implications of the weather and being a non-profit urban farm, I’m anticipating a huge harvest on my hands through the fall while my baby belly waggles between my squat legs. I am crossing my fingers that the rest of the core team isn’t too bogged down with their own work to come and help out in the field while I acknowledge the huge loss of skilled farm labour fading away with the cornucopia of fall harvest on the way. In any case, I am  certainly working hard to earn my maternity leave.

Hopefully I will be able to tune in again sooner than 6 weeks from now, although we all know that a farmer’s hands are more than full during the summer here in the PNW. Until then, relish the joy of sweet summer stone fruit juice trickling down your chin and swimming in our gorgeous waters.

– Farmer Camille

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Attention Foodies This Urban Farm Fundraisers Dinner Menu Looks Spectacular

Eat charcoal hummus! Think of the children!

Jul 4, 2022

Vancouver nonprofit Fresh Roots is best known for their farming-focused youth programs—summer camps, in-school workshops and other organized educational activities that encourage kids to get their hands dirty. So you probably wouldn’t expect their fundraiser to include rainbow trout ceviche, wine-macerated figs and burnt onion charcoal hummus.

But the urban farm society’s annual fundraising dinner isn’t made by the kids (there must be some kind of legislation around children and wine-macerating, anyway). It’s done in partnership with local chefs, and this year’s spread includes dishes by Robert Clark and Julian Bond of Organic Ocean, TJ Conwi of Ono Vancouver and Brockton Lane of Sirius Eats food truck. Plus, there’s goods from 33 Acres, Wards Cider, Edna’s Non-Alcoholic Cocktails, Earnest Ice Cream and Kafka’s Coffee. 

Fresh Roots Schoolyard Dinner 2019

A snapshot of the 2019 dinner.

The event, called “Before Sunset,” is on Thursday July 7 from 4:30pm to 7:30pm. Eventbrite tickets are priced from $134 for adults and $28 for children under 12. Here’s the full menu:

Drinks:
33 Acres of Sunshine French Blanchè and Ocean West Coast Pale Ale 
Wards Hard Apple Cider 
Edna’s Paloma and Mojito Cocktails 

From chefs at Organic Ocean: 
Spot Prawn Carpaccio, Hokkaido Scallop Ceviche on cedar planks 

From chef at Sirius Eats food truck: 
Beet Ceviche
(marinated Kwantlen Polytechnic University (KPU) Farm beets and carrot aguachile) 

Sirius Veg Burger
(Oyster and King Farm mushrooms, mini bun) 

Rainbow Trout Ceviche
(chlorophyll aguachile, KPU farm herbs) 

Farmcrest Chicken Slider
(crisp chicken, pickled KPU farm radish)  

From chef at Ono Vancouver: 
Rainbow Trout Roulade (smoked salmon mousse, Haida Gwaii kelp dust, nori, rhubarb wild-berry jelly, bannock crackers) 

On the grazing table: 

Bannock flatbread 

Wine-macerated figs and fruit 

Squid ink soil and burnt onion charcoal hummus 

“Textures of Fresh Roots Farm” veg, and lacto-fermeted veg 

Pickled, roasted and raw KPU Farm veg 

Oyster and King Farms mushroom conserva 

Crackers, olives, vegan charcuterie, cheese and spreads  

For dessert: 

Earnest Ice Cream sandwich  

Kafka’s Coffee Roasting Horchata Cold Brew 

Of course, you can donate to the nonprofit any time of year, but this is an extra-special (and tasty) way to show support. It’s the first time that Fresh Roots has hosted the dinner in-person since 2019, thanks to the COVID pandemic.

The dinner takes place outdoors on the urban farm at David Thompson Secondary, so guests can walk around and see the grounds for themselves. There’s live music from Sam Parton of the Be Good Tanyas and art activities for the youth (and young at heart) too. Get your tickets here. 

https://www.vanmag.com/Attention-Foodies-This-Urban-Farm-Fundraisers-Dinner-Menu-Looks-Spectacular

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FARMER’S LOG, SEED DATE JULY 1, 2022

WOW, welcome to the busiest moment at Fresh Roots. The week of July 4th is when all of our summer youth programming starts up – SOYL Internships in Vancouver, Delta & Coquitlam – and the EL Summer Camp at David Thompson. It’s also the week of our epic, annual fundraiser, where we haul together to fund our humongous programs, farm, and community work. Even though the sun is only mildly sticking his head out, we are sweating!

Speaking of the weather, wasn’t that nice to get some vitamin D over a handful of days this past month? The dramatic shift between constant, cool moisture and then a high of 34C meant all our daikons bolted, resulting in a pitiful 30lb harvest from 65 feet of plants. That said, our lettuces, brassica greens, and salad radishes have been absolutely radiant, and peas are coming in a rather late but epic wave of sweet, verdant pods. Rubicon Napa Cabbages were excellent, too.

While it’s been wonderful to swim in greens and tender radishes, we are so ready to reap the fruit of our labour. Many of our fruiting veggies are still a month behind, and aren’t showing signs of speeding up much. In an effort to try to stimulate faster growth, we planted most of our hot crops into black landscape fabric and installed low tunnels to mimic greenhouse conditions. Summer Squash looks like it might be ready for CSA in a couple of weeks but tomatoes definitely won’t hit the market until August. And peppers & eggplant  — eek — maybe not until September. 

Our markets have been going very smoothly. It’s been wonderful to stock it brimming with tasty plumage and come back with very little that didn’t find a home. However, did you know that every single morsel that comes back to our cooler is recovered either within the organization through our community eats program, or shared with South Van Neighbourhood House or Collingwood Neighbourhood house? Literally nothing is wasted. Being in an urban setting, connected with many food security organizations means that it’s easy to revert our market returns to mouths, and I’m so thankful for it. 

The farm team is finally complete with our newest member, Freshta. That reminds me – I ought to introduce the amazing folks that make up this season’s high-functioning, incredibly talented and hilarious team. 

Elina Blomley

They/She

Market Lead

Elina is studying food/agriculture at SFU and brings a whimsical and hilarious slang to the team. They are highly organized, have a keen eye for detail, and are just a delight to work with. 

Nicole Burton

She/They

David Thompson Field Lead

Nicole hails from the farms of Ontario, where the roads are wide and the summers are hot. She’s got an expertise in growing crops for seed as well as managing a market garden. Her cool-as-a-cucumber approach puts us at ease when things feel tight. 

Sam Tuck

He/They

Van Tech Field Lead

Sam braved the desert heat at Solstedt Farm in Lillooet last summer. He’s passionate about Indigenous Uprising and teaching the team a lot with his sharp anti-racist lens. 

Freshta Mohibi

She/Her

Market Assistant

We are blessed by this SOYL alum and ray of sunshine. Freshta is the newest member of our team and comes from a large, loving family that grew up tending to an apricot orchard. 

Stay tuned for updates next month on how our fundraiser went, and what’s new and in season on the farm. 

– Farmer Camille