post

Aw, Shucks! A Valentine LunchLAB Fundraiser and SHELL-ebration

Aw Shucks! A Valentine’s LunchLAB fundraiser

By Growing Chefs and Fresh Roots

When:February 14, 2022 7:00 PM PST to 8:00 PM PST
Where: Online via Zoom
Why: to support healthy food prepared by kids for kids in schools

All guests must be available to pick up on Sunday, February 13th between noon and 4:00pm (PST) at the Italian Cultural Centre at 3075 Slocan St in Vancouver.

Shell-ebrate Valentine’s Day with your favourite bi-valventine! Join Growing Chefs and Fresh Roots for a tasty evening of shucking, slurping, and learning in style with our friends at Organic Ocean. Ticket holders will be treated to everything needed to enjoy a tasty and educational hour together online featuring one dozen sustainably harvested oysters from Organic Ocean paired with your choice of wine from Mission Hill Family Estate or beer from Persephone Brewing. Plus, you’ll also get your own oyster shucking knife!

This event is in support of LunchLAB, an innovative program changing the narrative about school lunch! Learning with their teacher and chef-in-residence, student chefs help create the menu, prepare the meal, and serve it to their peers. It’s an exercise in learning and sharing, and it’s delicious.

The world is your oyster!

post

2021 Stories – Summer Schoolyard Gardener

by Olivia Evans, Schoolyard Gardener

For my first term in UBC Co-op, I had the pleasure to work with Fresh Roots as a summer schoolyard gardener. As a schoolyard gardener, my main tasks included planning garden layouts, harvesting fresh produce and overall garden maintenance. Schools involved with this project included Windermere Secondary, Britannia Secondary, Templeton Secondary, Strathcona Elementary, Grandview Elementary, Laura Secord Elementary, Total Education Program, and Nightingale Elementary. This overall experience taught me not only new skills in gardening and nutrition, but also about the importance of community.

Some of the highlights I had from this summer included working with the farm team at the David Thompson schoolyard farm, and the weekly lunch cooked by the Vancouver SOYL program participants,  where we gathered together and ate outside at the Italian Cultural Centre. 

This experience was one I hope to never forget, as it allowed me to engage in hands-on learning that will continue to aid me in my studies for the future.

Work with us next summer! We hire youth (ages 15-30) each year, with job opportunities posted starting in March 2022: https://freshroots.ca/about/job-opportunities/.

Thank you Canada Summer Jobs (CSJ), Vancouver School Board and MP Jenny Kwan for supporting schoolyard farms and engaging summer learning programs for kids and youth!

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 – Caty

by Caty Janze, SOYL Vancouver Mentor

Growth is a huge part of SOYL, both explicitly through workshops and more implicitly through activities like gardening, cooking, and art. Both have strengths and weaknesses, and the combination of the two creates an environment that allows youth chances to become comfortable in areas they wouldn’t otherwise. 

We do workshop most days at SOYL on food security and sustainability, mental and physical health, and leadership and social enterprise. Although I’ve learned from each workshop, the social enterprise ones are the most challenging. Food workshops invite us to reflect on our values and our world, health workshops on how our minds and bodies work, while leadership/social enterprise workshops focus on our skills and how to market ourselves. The latter is difficult because saying good things about yourself is infinitely harder than quietly believing them; lending yourself to others opens you up to being misunderstood, or worse, being understood and still seen as inadequate. Why it’s uncomfortable is also exactly why it’s necessary. Confidence and self-knowledge are often conflated with arrogance and self-involvement, and so being allowed to speak well of yourself without fear of criticism is important for building those skills. 

The other defining part of what makes SOYL what it is is the activities! We do work around the farm, and we cook for community eats. These activities get us to move our bodies, enjoy being outdoors, and build community. They also let us practice skills we talk about in workshops. After all, you can’t cook without being confident you won’t start a grease fire.

Overall, SOYL has been one of the best experiences of my life. I have grown more confident in my leadership skills over the course of this year’s program and watching the youth form friendships and develop skills has been fantastic. 

Learn more about the SOYL program HERE.

post

Farmer’s Log, Seed-date June 1, 2021

Nuts and Bolting

The nuts of farming, to me, translate to the “awe, nuts!” moments – like when you arrive one morning to your lovingly hand-reared broccoli transplants and find that they have all bolted prematurely. Riding the waves this spring – whether they were tropical hot or arctic cold – meant that a lot of our plantings behaved differently than expected. This early in the spring, when most of our planting spaces are spoken for, it’s hard to make up for failed crops without having a time machine. The effect for Fresh Roots is that we have adjusted our market start dates, and introduced a “soft-market” concept to our first week. 

That said, we did have many gorgeously productive days on site, with all our farm team recruited and in the process of all staff (22 new team members!) training over the past few Mondays. The Vancouver farm team transformed our greenhouse over the last 4 weeks from wild, gregarious, multi-shaped leaves bursting over every surface to a serene, warm oasis with tame baby head lettuces lined up in rows of green and purple. While seeding and rearing transplants is a lovely, crafty task, the prep for transplanting is everything in this process. 

Putting the Seedlings To Bed

When seedlings are ready, their bed has to be made. To start, we first have to uncover the beds that have been sleeping under silage tarps or lumber wrap all winter. If they were uncovered previously, we need to weed — sometimes for hours — before we can move on. Next, we measure and mark out each bed: 36 inches wide, with an 18 inch path. Then we wheelbarrow 3 loads of compost for every 45 foot bed, rake the compost out, and wheelhoe the bed to integrate the nutrition and fluff the mattress, so to speak. If a fluffy bed is a mattress, then consider row cover the sheets. For transplanted beds, the best way to save yourself future battles with weeds is to apply a sheet of landscape fabric to the prepared bed to prevent scattered, wild seeds from seeing the sun or getting irrigated. When we run out of fancy fabric, sometimes we create low-cost covers out of lumber wrap that we cut holes into with rickety scissors found at the bottom of cracked rubbermaid boxes. Transplants are popped into holes in these sheets, and eventually their plumage cascades over the surface, hiding the fact that their sheets are not Egyptian cotton, but rather, black plastic.  

Prepping our beds in this way not only prevents unwanted weed pressure, it also retains the nutritional quality of the soil, preventing nitrogen from being taken up by unplanned plants. Additionally, it prevents surface leaching, by blocking irrigation and rain outside of the holes we farmers have cut. In these ways, we are serving our soil as well as our crops, to minimize our nitrogen output, which also protects the environment.

We did lots of other cool stuff besides bed prep, including clover angels (who knew this was a thing?), building an epic tomato trellis, donating 14 totes of veggies to South Vancouver Neighbourhood House, and wrestling rhubarb – whose leaves I’m considering using in place of landscape fabric, maybe, to suppress weeds? Also makes a great hat during a thunderstorm. 

 

June will see our first CSA Pickup and Market Days – don’t miss them! 

 

We’ll be at the Italian Cultural Centre from 4-7 on Wednesdays starting June 2nd. We’re located at the southwest corner adjacent to the park-look for the white tents, orange signage, and basketball hoops!

AND

Vancouver Farmers Market at Riley Park from 10-2 on Saturdays starting June 12th.

 

-Farmer Camille

post

Farmer’s Log, Start-date, May 1, 2021

A week into April I found myself completely transitioned from working behind a screen to my hands covered in compost, unable to check my messages. It’s awesome. This is why I farm. I love being outside, covered in dirt, with wet, matted hair. Thank Manure it’s finally time to work the soil! We direct seeded about twelve beds at the David Thompson Secondary schoolyard farm, a handful of which are now sprouting. These sprouts are destined to be the first veggies in your CSA box or your June market haul! Time to get excited!

This month, I spent about 2 out of 5 days each week fiddling around with irrigation. This time reminds me once again, how important preparation is for a smooth farm season. When Fresh Roots starts up the growing season, Gray, our Infrastructure Manager, first has to test all the lines and replace any broken bits. Any leaks (or explosive sprays!) need to be repaired before we can hook up the lines that will water our seed babies. Next, we make lists of the parts we need, place an order, and pick them up, sometimes requiring a trip out to Abbotsford. Ideally, we would have a very organized inventory of all the essential, tiny, plastic parts that are dispersed over our many sites. Fresh Roots operates over six sites across the lower mainland (and counting) so this process is a little like herding cats with a broom. 

 

Once we’ve got all our bits and bobs, we need to assemble them according to crop, asking questions like, “do we need overhead or drip irrigation;” “do we need 1, 2, or 3 lines per bed;” “what kind of emitters do we need and what’s their coverage;” etc etc. It’s a little bit like lego, which is kind of fun, but also tedious. Once everything is in working order we finally set the timers… the hardest part. The technology is not user-friendly. It’s like setting an alarm on a water-damaged watch from the ’90s: half-analog, half-digital, with about two dozen impossible-to-find settings buried under complex command chains. TBH, I’m not really sure if these minutiae are interesting to you, Dear Reader, but there you have it – irrigation in all its tiny, explosive glory. 

 

Our seedlings in the greenhouse are now fully irrigated and warm under the clear light shining through fresh panes of glass. It seems like the ideal situation, right? Wrong. Turns out a heavenly courtyard in the middle of a school is also a haven for small animals that like to chew things — namely, about a dozen trays of gorgeous plant babies. I can’t blame the animals. Who doesn’t love a sumptuous spring salad after a winter of garbage… Er, turkey? Our response was to build 6 more cages to protect our precious seedlings from grazing. It also spurred a much-needed deep clean in all the nooks, crannies, and under-the-stairs. The whole team — all departments — banded together to tackle this work and it felt so good to accomplish it together. 

 

Stay tuned next month when I’ll talk about transplants, why we do row covers and the onboarding of our seasonal staff.  

post
Jodie@jhpub.com

Fresh Roots presents FIRST WE EAT

It’s Giving Tuesday next week. What is Giving Tuesday you ask? It is a global movement for giving and volunteering, which takes place each year after Black Friday the “opening day for the giving season” when charities, companies, and individuals join together and rally for their favourite causes.

At Fresh Roots we want to turn Giving Tuesday upside down and give a little something back to you, in addition to supporting a fantastic film and one of our cherished local theatres when they need it most. 

 Join Fresh Roots (from the comfort of your own home) for an online screening and Q & A of FIRST WE EAT, a film that documents what happens when an ordinary family, living just south of the Arctic Circle, bans all grocery store food from their house for one year.

Click the image below to watch the trailer.

Movie screening: now through December 5th via VIFF Connect aka Vancity Theatre

Q & A: Tuesday, December 1, 7:30PM-8:30PM PST

 

Learn more at: https://firstweeat.ca/

How to watch:

  • Register through Eventbrite HERE 
  • We will send you an email with the promo code for $2 off the ticket price and the link to purchase your ticket from the VIFF Connect aka Vancity Theatre website (this will be done manually so please leave up to 12 hours to receive the code outside of regular business hours!)
  • The film will be available to watch any time between now and Dec 5th. If you are able, it would be great to watch the film before  joining in on the conversation Dec 1 at 7:30PM PST

How to join the Q & A:

  • Register through Eventbrite HERE
  • Watch for an email from Fresh Roots on Sunday, Nov, 29 which will contain a ZOOM link for the Tuesday, Dec. 1st Q & A from 7:30 PM-8:30 PM PST with FIRST WE EAT filmmaker Suzanne Crocker co-hosted by Fresh Roots fall staff Nicole and Kristen
  • Let Fresh Roots know what you think of FIRST WE EAT. Tag us: @freshrootsfarms on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter

This event is sponsored by Fresh Roots. Only 100 promo codes for the film are available.

We look forward to having you join us!

If you would like to support Fresh Roots and the work we do please visit our donation page to learn more

post

A SOYL Summer-Part 2

A SOYL Summer- Part 2

As the 2020 SOYL (Sustainable Opportunities for Youth Leadership) wraps up another action-packed week or learning and growing together we are sharing the second installment in the three-part series written by four SOYL alumni from the summer of 2019. Introducing the second installment of this three-part series:

Written by Stephanie, Maria, Railene, and Sarina, 2019 SOYL Participants

Chapter one: The beginning of SOYL

The anticipation of SOYL was finally over as the first day finally arrived. We gathered together in a circle, seeing new faces. We were sorted in crews with people we had not yet connected with. While we started doing icebreakers and name games the awkwardness slowly faded away. Despite only meeting hours before, our interest bonded us together with beautiful conversations. Laughter and joy spread as we progressed through our first day. Closing off, we participated in an activity that ensured our friendship with one another. A ball of neon pink string was passed between all of us and we wrapped the string around our wrist three times. When it was our turn we would say what our goals for SOYL are. We discussed our goals to contribute to each other and promised to uphold the community agreements. In our community agreements, we agreed to be on time and be respectful to everyone in the community. Our schedules were formed the following week and we had lots to do. On the first day, we also learned how to use the gardening tools safely. We learned the importance of watching our surroundings so we don’t get into an accident. One of the two most important things we took from SOYL on our first week was safety but mostly fun!

Chapter Two: Community Eats

Most of the SOYL members can agree Community Eats is one of the best things in SOYL! What isn’t there to love about eating healthy, delicious, sustainable foods together as a community. In the morning a crew goes up to the kitchen inside the school and starts planning for the yummy meal. The veggies that sadly could not make it to the farmers’ market due to imperfections are used in the meal. For example, sometimes the vegetable isn’t pretty but it’s still perfect to eat. Community Eats is a hands-on learning experience for students. We learn to cook the food and on the other hand, we learn the importance of reducing waste. A couple of topics we covered in Community Eats are how we can use the unwanted pieces of veggies to make a broth instead of composting right away and we also learned about urban agriculture but will get more into that later. When all the cooked food was brought outside, we gathered together to listen to one of our SOYL crew members to introduce the meal of the day. While we were eating the delicious food we started having conversations with our SOYL staff, mentors, and crew members.

Chapter three: Farm Work

From buckets to shovels, every tool had a purpose on the farm that would make specific tasks easier. The first time on the farm we learned about tools such as forks and shears to ease into using them in the future. We even learned about the benefits of a glove. The glove will protect you from small thorns pricking your fingers or spiky weeds difficult to pull out. The facilitators made sure we knew how to handle such large tools with safety and care. Nicole, Hanah, and Sunny were the facilitators that ensured we understood how to clean the tools and safely put the barrels back. By the end of the day, we all knew how to properly use them. Tools such as shovels were used by the majority of us to remove the weeds in the beds with deeper roots. We all took part in the satisfaction of pulling a weed in one swift pull. Sometimes on the farm, we have been hungry for a snack while weeding and a simple trick is to eat one of the popular edible weeds on the farm. Most of us can say purslane is one of the best snacks on the farm. It’s succulent which contains water, making the pure green leaf fun and crunchy. The lemony leafy taste makes it even more desirable when spotting a bunch on the veggie beds. After the unwanted plants are pulled out of the beds we harvest the veggies. Harvesting is a rewarding job to do. The eye-catching multi-colored plants are removed from the beautiful deep rich soil we have on the farm. The mouth-watering task makes our days a whole step more enjoyable. During the program, we go to two different high schoolyard farms, one at David Thompson and the second one at Van Tech.

Proceeds from the Fresh Roots Fourth Annual Schoolyard Dinner *At Home Edition* fundraiser On Sale Now provide critical funding for Fresh Roots programs, like SOYL, that engage and empower youth more important now than ever!

post

2019 Fresh Roots Impact Report

We’re thrilled to share all of the amazing things Fresh Roots got up to in 2019!

In true Fresh Roots form, 2019 was another remarkable year! We are incredibly grateful for the diverse network of staff, volunteers, supporters, partners, and collaborators who continue to make our work possible. Thank you!

We hope you enjoy a glimpse into the world of Fresh Roots. Please reach out if you have any questions at all!

Check out the report by clicking on the image below and download to share!