Vancouver Magazine September/October 2022
Consider joining the Fresh Roots program this summer
Delta Optimist article | Staff Writer | Apr 16, 2022 9:00 AM
Calling Delta students – do you want to spend your summer making friends, working on your leadership skills, growing, cooking and eating yummy food?
If you are in grades 9 to 12, consider joining Fresh Roots for a unique six-week summer leadership and employment program.
Based out of the Farm Roots Mini School program, the SOYL program empowers youth to steward the schoolyard farm located at 6570 1A Avenue in Delta (Boundary Bay).
The focus is on learning, community building, and growing “Good Food for All”. Upon successful completion of the program you will receive a $600 stipend.
This is a full day program that runs July 4 to Aug. 11, from 8:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Mondays to Thursdays.
In this program you will work with your peers developing interpersonal and teamwork skills as you work in the SOYL program components.
Students will further develop their communication, self-regulation, and decision-making skills, while also engaging in goal-setting activities.
To apply, see more details on the Delta School District website at: https://www.deltasd.bc.ca.
If you have any questions about the SOYL Program email: email@example.com or call 778-764-0344, ext. 102
BC Farmers’ Markets | June 2, 2022
Link to YouTube video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=StEN-ZHDIgM&t=11s
“We get a deeper sense of where our food comes from by being able to grow it.”
A breath of fresh air from life in the big city, urban farming is an important part of local food production. Located in the city of Vancouver, this Story from the BC Farmers’ Market Trail features Fresh Roots Urban Farm founders Gray Oron and Ilana Labow who strive to make sure their communities are provided with fresh food. Since 2009, the members of their urban farm society have been working directly with schools to teach youth about where a career in food production can take them.
Meet more local farmers, makers, and artisans at City of Vancouver Farmers’ Markets: https://bcfarmersmarkettrail.com/regi…
The BC Farmers’ Market Trail proudly showcases 145+ authentic BC Association of Farmers’ Market members across British Columbia. Dedicated to helping local food thrive, the BC Farmers’ Market Trail is your route to fresh, local, in-season food and artisan goods direct from the farmers who produce them.
Follow The BC Farmers’ Market Trail:
#BCFMTStories #BCFarmersMarkets #ExploreBC
Click the image below to check out the segment!
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.
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.
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.
Tuesday – Harvest Day
Wednesday – Market Day & CSA Pickup #1
Thursday – Harvest Day
Friday – Field Work, Remaining Harvest & CSA Delivery for Pickup #2
Saturday – VFM Market
Sunday – Everybody takes a day of rest!
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
On every Fresh Roots farm this summer, children and youth are harvesting fresh veggies and cooking up a feast! So what are we cooking?
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!
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.
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!
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 – firstname.lastname@example.org! 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
Posted on https://www.westernliving.ca/
A new take on classic relish from Vancouver nonprofit Fresh Roots.
Zucchini season is coming up, and one can only make so much zucchini bread. This new take on a summer classic from Vancouver-based nonprofit Fresh Roots Urban Farm Society pickles zucchinis—along with red peppers and onions—for a sweet and tangy relish. Heads up that you’ll need canning jars for this recipe (another plus: this condiment will last a long time).
Fresh Roots provides cooking and farming programs for youth in B.C.’s lower mainland, encouraging them to get their hands dirty and build their knowledge of food systems (and some pretty invaluable self-confidence). They’re hosting a Schoolyard Farm Dinner fundraiser on Thursday, July 7 at David Thompson Secondary School with top chefs serving up some excellent eats—think Hokkaido scallop ceviche from Organic Ocean, veggie burgers from Sirius Eats and rainbow trout roulade from Ono Vancouver, plus Ernest’s ice cream and 33 Acres beer. Proceeds from this event go straight back to the youth programs—get your tickets here. Now, on to the recipe.
3 lbs zucchinis cut into 1-inch (2.5 cm) chunks
3 onions chopped
2 sweet red peppers diced
1/4 cup pickling salt
2 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1 1/2 cup cider vinegar
1 tablespoon dry mustard
1 teaspoon celery seeds
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 tablespoon water
In a food processor, pulse zucchini, adding a few pieces at a time, until the size of rice with a few larger pieces for texture. Transfer the zucchini to a large mixing bowl. Stir in onions, red peppers and salt. Let the mixture sit for 1 hour, stirring occasionally.
Drain vegetable mixture well; rinse, and drain again, pressing out as much moisture as possible.
In a large shallow saucepan, combine sugar, vinegar, mustard, celery seeds, ginger, turmeric and red pepper flakes; bring to boil. Add drained vegetable mixture; reduce heat and simmer, stirring often until vegetables are tender, about 15 minutes.
Mix cornstarch with water and stir into relish; simmer, and continue stirring until you can pull your spoon along the bottom of the pan leaving a path that fills in slowly (about 5 minutes).
Pack into four 1-cup (250 mL) canning jars, leaving 1/2-inch (1 cm) headspace. Remove any air bubbles with a non-metallic utensil, readjusting headspace if necessary. Wipe jar rims to remove any relish remnants before securing the lids. Cover with prepared lids. Twist on screw bands until resistance is met; increase to ‘fingertip tight’. Lower jars in the canner of boiling water making sure there is at least 1 inch (2.5 cm) of water above the jars. Process for 15 minutes.
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 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 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 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.
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
Hey’all! I am relieved to be behind my screen, caffeinated and ready to dive into my Monday office hours at Fresh Roots HQ, here at Norquay Park. I feel equipped (actually, #blessed) with a team of incredibly talented farm workers this spring, who I trust are tending our fields with skill, love and care so I can fill our readers in about what’s popping up this spring.
2022 has been a bumpy start with low temperatures, tonnes of precipitation, and no farm staff through April and the start of May. This is because Galen, the Fresh Roots Program Manager, who usually supports with the essential prep and seeding before our summer staff are onboarded, ended their tenure with Fresh Roots on April 1st. This outstanding individual is not only a skilled and dependable earth-tender, but was also my biggest ally and supportive voice for the farm department at the multi-faceted, densely programmed, non-profit machine that is Fresh Roots.
Because this important set of hands was missing, I put the call for help out to the team and had some very productive days when people were able to make it out. We got about 60% of the bed prep and planting done that needed to get done, which is at least double what I would have been able to accomplish alone. It’s of incredible benefit that several of the core team went through the SOYL program and even did internships, so they have the muddy experience to apply to transplanting in the rain. I think it’s unique that Fresh Roots gets all its core team out to the farms to do lifting once in awhile- regardless of people’s titles. I’m not sure if all our Job Descriptions say this, but they definitely should – that there will always be opportunities to get dirt in all fingernails if you’re part of this team.
A highlight this spring was SOYL spring break in mid-March. It was heartwarming to see some of last summer’s SOYL participants come back to help out. This year we had a big project: to tackle our ever-flooded zone D at Van Tech. Together with myself, the Site Manager (Gray), and Galen at the program helm, the SOYL Spring Break Participants transformed the swamp into a productive block of bordered, raised beds and moisture-wicking woodchipped paths. It was an incredible transformation and only took the crew 2 days. Despite the torrential downpour we were working in, the team kept spirits high and even took dance breaks and vogue walks to maintain the vibe. Infused with queer-lovin’ dance moves, this zone will be an entirely SOYL-managed space through the summer where we will hone in on their agricultural skills from building, bed-prep, seeding, transplanting, and harvest. This means that any kale or chard you find in your CSA box or purchased from our farm stand this summer will be 100% produced by the SOYL crew. I think that’s pretty outstanding.
From some pretty huge team builds of 50+ folks, to an internal team blitz at the Norquay sharing garden, across all departments, Fresh Roots has been revitalizing the spaces we tend all spring, beyond just bed prep and seeding. As we onboard more and more youth to work this summer, our faces diversify and so does our focus. Through the summer, I’ll continue to share stories and reflections about the farm but if you’d like to stay abreast of all the other wonderful things the organization gets up to, follow the blogs from Kat, the Fresh Roots Experiential Learning Manager, as well as the featured blogs from YE and EL facilitators, and many other members of our evolving team.
– Farmer Camille