by Jaimie Rosenwirth, Suwa’lkh Environmental Education Program Lead
My name is Jaimie and I am the Suwa’lkh Environmental Education Program Lead. I have been volunteering with Fresh Roots since 2018 with an individual with autism. We both currently still volunteer up to 3 times a week. I have been working with Fresh Roots since the Fall of 2020. I have spent a lot of time working with the Leadership program through Suwa’lkh school, running the market, preparing salad for lunch, helping out with the SOYL Summer Program as well as Summer Camp. As well as growing fruits and vegetables, I love telling the students that radishes are my favourite vegetable that we grow. If they are really spicy then I need to eat them with a carrot to sweeten them up a bit. I like hearing what their favourites are as well and finding out the reasoning behind it. My camp name was given to me this past summer (2021) by a young camper, and it is Wildlife.
Suwa’lkh is a very unique Fresh Roots location, having a garden – Suwa’lkh Medicine Garden, an orchard and The Healing Forest to work in. The students, teachers, and Smokey (a dog), at the school, enjoy eating fruit and vegetables from the garden and the orchard throughout the year. The teachers, youth and program goers have access to an outdoor classroom located in the forest. During summer programs this space provides quiet from the street near us as well as shade during the heat waves for children and youth to learn.
Smokey the Dog
Smokey is the PADS dog (Pacific Assistance Service Dogs) at school. He is a therapy dog that supports the students. When they are feeling anxious or emotional he goes to them right away. He is a sucker for carrots, especially if they are fresh from the garden. In the off-season when we don’t have any carrots he will settle for either an apple or a store carrot.
Healing Forest and Salmon Stream
Students get to take calming walks through the Healing Forest for a break. Getting to hear all the sounds of nature, birds chirping, water flowing through the stream, the wind blowing through the trees. Going for a walk through the forest is one of my favourite things to do when I just need to take a break from a task or to refocus. While in the forest during the fall, it is great to look in the stream and see if there are any salmon spawning. I myself have not been lucky enough to see any. I hope that one day I will be able to.
We also have a native plant nursery. We have plants that are native to our area and they thrive in this environment. We hope to introduce them back into the community. We use the native plants from the nursery to reintroduce them to our forest. We have put thimbleberry, Sitka spruce and dune willow in places where we have removed invasives. We also use them as part of our programming. The students get to transplant native plants to areas where they have removed invasive species. We have been giving them to classes from field trips to take back to their school to plant in their gardens. We have the native plants available for purchase on our website as well as at our weekly market.
We have a weekly market on-site every Thursday starting mid-May through to mid-October. It is located at Suwa’lkh school, 1432 Brunette Avenue. We have large orange flags leading up to the parking lot. We get help from the students to harvest the vegetables as well as set up the market stand each week. During the summer months, we have help from the SOYL youth, they come from many different schools in and around Coquitlam. The SOYL youth will help with harvesting, market set up as well as running the market. Each week a different crew of 4-5 youth is assigned to be at the market. Being at the market is one of their favourite things. Especially being the cashier.
We have dedicated volunteers on site. They help with general farm maintenance and tasks such as weeding, seeding, transplanting, uppotting and harvesting. Our volunteers come weekly to work on tasks at times. Our volunteers live in the area and have seen the progress of the garden through the years. They love what we are doing and enjoy helping out when they can.
If you would like to volunteer, email firstname.lastname@example.org!
CSA Veggie Box Pilot
We will be trying out a CSA veggie box program this year with 7 spaces available. Keep an eye out for more information.