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Community Spotlight – Made by Malcolm

By Jaimie Rosenwirth, Suwa’lkh Lead and Malcolm’s Support Worker

Malcolm’s Story

Malcolm is a valued Fresh Roots community member with ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder) and the garden at Suwa’lkh School in Kwikwetlem (Coquitlam) is a place that he loves to spend time. He has been working out in the garden with Fresh Roots for 5 or 6 years now. He was a student at Suwa’lkh who helped create the garden and orchard and helped develop the 7 acre food forest next to the school. During his last year of school he worked outside 3 hours a week, seeding, weeding and uppotting. After Malcolm graduated in 2020 he wanted to continue working in the garden. He started volunteering twice a week and kept coming to the garden throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. It provided him with a safe, welcoming place to go every week. This is a place where he is able to build lasting connections with the community.

Malcolm loves to do the uppotting and seed start tasks. Weeding is also a task he loves because there isn’t too much to think about. With weeding everything must go! Malcolm really enjoyed the seed saving of lupine seeds this summer. Harvesting, leaving them to dry in a paper bag, separating seeds, packaging and labelling. He asked if we would be doing this again next year. Malcolm also really enjoys harvesting the purple peacock beans. These are easy to spot and we just have to pull them all off. The simple repetitive tasks are great for Malcolm. He does enjoy learning new farm tasks when we are able. The more things he can do means he has more choices of tasks to choose from when he is here.

Sonia, Malcolm’s Mom, has said “We are so blessed that he is so welcome there! I tell everyone what an amazing program it is all the time. He is so lucky to have Fresh Roots”.

Support the ‘Made by Malcolm’ Fundraiser!

In addition to dedicating his time to help out on the Suwa’lkh schoolyard farm, Malcolm fundraises by selling Made by Malcolm handmade cards. In January, he raised $362.34 in support of Fresh Roots experiential food literacy education programs. Way to go, Malcom and Jaimie!

Malcolm is back with another Made by Malcom Fresh Roots fundraiser, selling sets of holiday cards for $5! Each set comes with four cards (star, tree, snowflake and stocking). Show your support by purchasing a set of cards through their Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/Made-by-Malcom-655182104946615/!

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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

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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!

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The Entire World is Re-Examining How Communities Operate Due to COVID-19. Here’s How We Fit In.

Growing Chefs! and Fresh Roots adapt LunchLAB program in response to COVID-19.

LunchLAB, our innovative pilot that could, evolved this past month to meet the current needs of families impacted by the pandemic. Those of us in the local farm and food world already informally work together and share common goals, so teamwork is not new for Growing Chefs! and Fresh Roots. We’ve been in cahoots for a couple of years now. In the fall 2019, we launched LunchLAB, a curriculum-based educational school meal program.

LunchLAB provides a space for students learn to grow their own food and, with the support of their teacher and chef-in-residence, learn to cook for themselves and hundreds of their peers twice a week. Through LunchLAB, we provide meals that:

  • strengthen local food systems and support local farms;
  • provide non-stigmatizing access to those that need it most;
  • are nourishing, safe, healthy, and delicious;
  • kids and youth want to eat.

 

With the closure of schools due to COVID-19,  Growing Chefs! and Fresh Roots, in collaboration with the Italian Cultural Centre, Ono Vancouver, and the Vancouver School Board (vsb), redesigned LunchLAB to become LunchLAB: Chefs for Families. This new program provides healthy, delicious, chef-prepared meals to families in need.

Times can be tough for Vancouver families right now, and even tougher for those families who may have already been struggling. We are offering families, identified by Youth and Family Workers at the VSB, healthy, chef-prepared meals that provide nourishment and dignity at this uncertain time. Both Growing Chefs! and Fresh Roots believe food can be a catalyst for positive change and a source of joy and inspiration, even during a crisis.

Before, LunchLAB was serving up to 440 lunches per week. Now, we’re at 5,500 meals! That’s more than a 1000% increase! These meals are made available for pick up or delivery two days a week to 260 local families. Created by professional chefs and composed of restaurant-quality dishes, the menus are carefully and thoughtfully crafted to bring comfort and enjoyment.

And they’re not just healthy, they’re absolutely delicious, and kid-approved!

Plus, we’re happy to be able to provide meaningful, paid work for chefs and kitchen professionals who would otherwise not be working. Growing Chefs! and Fresh Roots is currently providing more than 180 hrs/week of employment for our chef teams from Ono Vancouver and the Italian Cultural Centre. A huge THANK YOU to both the Italian Cultural Centre and Pacific Restaurant Supply who have donated the use of their kitchen facilities and equipment for the chef teams to prepare and portion the meals. AMAZING!

It’s also super-important to us that we support the entire food system, including local sourcing and diversion of food waste. Thanks for working with us and thank you for your donations Cropthorne Farm, Discovery Organics, Gordon Food Service, Nature’s Path, and Yen Bros Food Service. And we just have to give a shout out to our very own Fresh Roots schoolyard farms and farmers for contributing ultra-locally grown produce like carrots (carrot-top parsley anyone?!), parsley and greens.

And it’s not just food that the community is contributing. Fresh Prep generously donated cold packs for safe delivery of the meals, Fresh St Market donated paper bags for packing meals, Lyft has donated free rides for families to pick up meals, and Odd Society Spirits donated hand sanitizer for our volunteer delivery drivers. THANK YOU!

WE NEED YOUR HELP!

Program activities would not be possible without our volunteers. If you can spare some time, or would like more information about volunteer opportunities email Amanda Adams: amanda@growingchefs.ca.

We are aware that not everyone is in a place to make a donation right now, and we understand.  If you or your employer are able to support, we hope you’ll Order Up* a chef-prepared meal for a family in need with a donation today! Each time you place an order, you provide fresh, healthy, restaurant-quality meals, salad making kits, fresh produce, and pantry staples to local families in need, RIGHT NOW.

* LunchLAB: Chefs for Families is a partnership. Contact and donation information will be shared with both charities, Growing Chefs! and Fresh Roots.

The cost to operate LunchLAB: Chefs for Families is $77,000 per month and donations are required to continue operation.

Financially Supported By:

Participating Collaborators: 

  • Italian Cultural Centreprovides LunchLAB with:
    • In-kind use of their entire facility and equipment to prepare, portion, and distribute the meals
    • Leadership, expertise and culinary talent from their Executive Chef Jackson Noah, their chefs, staff, and catering division
    • Community connections and supplier connections for in-kind support and donated food/fresh produce.
  • Ono Vancouverprovides LunchLAB with:
    • Support developing the new LunchLAB program concept, model, scale, and operations
    • Leadership, expertise, and culinary talent from Executive Chef TJ Conwi, one of the LunchLAB chef-in-residences, and his team of chefs
    • Community connections and supplier connections for in-kind support and donated food/fresh produce.
  • Vancouver School Boardprovides LunchLab with:
    • The list of participating families. Each week, the Manager of Enhanced Services and Youth and Family Workers from across the VSB sign up families they feel will best benefit from participating in the meal program.

Program Contacts:

  • Helen Stortini | Executive Director, Growing Chefs!

helen@growingchefs.ca| 778-858-0909

  • Alexa Pitoulis | Interim Executive Director, Fresh Roots

alexa@freshroots.ca| 778-764-0DIG (0344), ext. 101

Communications/Fundraising Contacts:

  • Jaydeen Williams | Development & Communications Director, Growing Chefs!

jaydeen@growingchefs.ca| 604-710-1677

  • Caroline Manuel | Communications and Engagement Manager, Fresh Roots

caroline@freshroots.ca| 778-764-0DIG (0344), ext. 108

#LunchLAB #ChefsForFamilies #OrderUp #GrowingChefs #FreshRoots