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Fresh Roots Urban Farm’s Backyard Harvest Dinner showcases culturally diverse foods

The Vancouver non-profit society empowers youth by growing, harvesting, and selling food

August 1st, 2021

Fresh Roots Urban Farm’s Backyard Harvest Dinner With Friends takes place on August 19 at 6 pm PDT.

 

MORE AND MORE people want to know where their food comes from. Vancouver’s Fresh Roots Urban Farm teaches youth all about what’s on their plate—including how to grow it.

Food equity among young people is a pressing issue. Some 2,000 Vancouver youth go hungry daily, according to Fresh Roots, while more than half of Vancouver youth (54 percent) do not eat the recommended daily amount of fruits or vegetables. Poor nutrition among students affects everything from academics to mental health to physical fitness.

The non-profit society’s Sustainable Opportunities Youth Leadership (SOYL) program gets youth involved in every step of the food process, from planting and harvesting to selling it at farmer’s markets. Youth also learn about food justice and cook with local chefs, whether for themselves or people in need in the community.

So much hands-on skills and entrepreneurial experience help build self-confidence and community engagement.

To raise funds for the SOYL program, the organization is hosting its Backyard Harvest Dinner with Friends on August 19 at 6 pm PDT. The online event includes a virtual farm tour, music, and entertainment.

Participants will receive a summer harvest box filled with items from new and culturally diverse local food businesses to have at home. The box includes dishes made by members of the first cohort of Flavours of Hope’s Dream Cuisines, a pilot program supporting newcomer refugee women launching food ventures in partnership with Coho Commissary. These include Super Dishes—Egyptian Halal Cuisine, Mis Cazuelas Mexican Food, and Tinker Bake (Mexican baked goods).

Ono Vancouver and Kula Kitchen helped develop the menu.

Other partners for the 2021 Backyard Harvest Dinner include Legends Haul, Organic Ocean Seafood, 33 Acres Brewing Co., Susgrainable, Odd Society Spirits, Plenty Hard Kombucha, VanSuya, Tsawwassen Farm School, the Italian Cultural Centre, UBC Farm, and VanCity.

Backyard Harvest Dinner tickets, $150, include dinner for two, beverage pairings, flowers for the table, and other items.

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Campers say Camp Fresh Roots is “Really Fun”

By Kat Vriesema-Magnuson, Experiential Learning Manager

We’ve heard from a number of Experiential Learning staff this year about their experiences on our team. This month, I thought we should turn it over to the most important members of the team: the kids. I interviewed campers during our EcoWonders camp at David Thompson, and here’s what they had to say:

What do you think about Camp Fresh Roots?

“It’s really fun.”- Multiple campers

“It’s very enjoyable.” – Age 9

“I never knew we would be cooking this much and I really like cooking.” – Age 7

What’s your favourite part?

“Cooking. We made curry and rice and brownies.” – Age 8

“The brownies.” – multiple campers

“The Curry. It had swiss chard, potatoes, and carrots.” – Age 10

“My favourite part is that we get to make food and harvest and learn all the types of plants” – Age 7

“We do lots of different games and fun things”. – age 6

“I like the games. My favourite is Fruit Salad. That’s all you need to know from me.” – age 6

What is Camp Fresh Roots about?

“It’s about plants and games and arts & crafts and fun.”- Age 7

“It’s about the environment and helping” – Age 8

“It’s all about nature and plants and learning about them. There’s lots of nature here.” – Age 7

Well, that about sums it up. Camps will be over for the year in just a couple weeks, but we’re already gearing up to welcome field trips in late September and October. After a much needed rest!

Oh, and that brownie recipe the kids all love? It’s easy, vegan, made with zucchini, and extremely delicious. You can find it here: https://www.popsugar.com/fitness/Healthy-Zucchini-Brownies-31120011

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4 Lessons about Worms to Wiggle Along to

By Kat Vriesema-Magnuson, Experiential Learning Manager

As I write this, EL Lead Andrea (aka Snap) is leading a wormshop for our EcoWonders campers. What’s a wormshop, you ask? Well, It’s a workshop… about worms! Red Wriggler worms, in this case, which are about to be added to our new vermicomposting bin, but not before our campers have a chance to get to know them and learn many lessons from them.

Lesson one: All animals need a home.

Animals all need food, water, air, and shelter. For our Red Wrigglers, who are not native to this area, that means a blue plastic tote, filled with all the things worms love: dirt, and shredded paper to nest in, and just enough water to stay moist.

Lesson two: Rot rocks!

Our Red Wrigglers will be part of our waste management system. This type of worm is one of the best decomposers of plant matter out there, and we’re going to keep them fed with fruit and veggie scraps and weeds from the farm. As fungus and bacteria start to break those plants down, the little toothless worms will slurp it up like a smoothie. Thanks, decomposers for not leaving us neck deep in food scraps!

Lesson three: Everybody Poops.

Worm poop, or more formally, worm castings, is one of the best plant fertilizers out there. And even though it’s made of rotten banana peels and apple cores and slimy lettuce, and has gone all the way through a worm’s digestive system, its smells…. Totally fine! Like really good, rich soil. 

Lesson four: Worms are just like us (kinda).

They can see (light and dark), they can feel vibrations, they can smell delicious rotting food. They have a brain and a heart (ok, 5 of those) and they breathe air (through their skin). Contrary to popular myth, you can’t make two worms by cutting one in half, but they can regrow parts of their tail if it gets damaged. Most importantly, they need us to be gentle and caring with them, just like we need people to be gentle and caring with us.

We still have a few spaces left in our August camps at David Thompson in Vancouver and Suwa’lkh School in Coquitlam if you have a young worm-curious child in your life. Sliding scale fees are available, starting at $112.50 for a 3-day program or $185 for a full week. Visit freshroots.ca/camp to learn more and register.

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Make It SOW is BACK!

Over the past year, the need for and the power of our SOYL (Sustainable Opportunities for Youth Leadership) program has become so clear with critical opportunities for youth to connect with their peers and mentors in person severely limited for the past 14 plus months due to the ongoing pandemic.

This spring, we saw a much higher demand for the SOYL (Sustainable Opportunities for Youth Leadership) program in Vancouver alone. 130 youth applied for 25 spots in our unique SOYL program for 2021. We need extra support to pay for an increased cost for supplies and workshops this summer and to grow the program to meet the overwhelming demand for next year.

The Problem

  • In British Columbia, 1 in 6 kids lives in households experiencing food insecurity.
  • Canadians spend more time indoors than ever before—approximately 90% of each day—and most of that time is spent sitting in front of a screen.
  • B.C. youth are reporting an increase in mental health conditions, including anxiety disorders, depression, and PTSD. The COVID-19 pandemic has made these numbers even worse.
  • With so many opportunities and programs for young people cut or canceled this past year, we’ve become acutely aware of Fresh Roots’ unique position to fill the gap with much-needed time spent outside on the schoolyard farms we steward.

How You Can Help

 

  1. Sponsor an item (or two!) from our wishlist
  2. Register as an individual or a team to spread the word with your own sub-campaign
  3. Contribute a one-time donation with a custom amount
  4. Become a MONTHLY DONOR   and provide steady & predictable income to ensure we can consistently run our programming in addition to being able to plan ahead and grow our existing offerings.
  5. Share with your friends and family, tagging us @freshrootsfarms and using the hashtag #makeitsow

Help us GROW!

WHAT WE DO

Together, we:

  • Create and steward Schoolyard Farms
  • Facilitate outdoor experiential learning with teachers and students
  • Mentor youth through field trips and classes on the schoolyard farms, after school clubs and summer programming,
  • Host work experience opportunities for high school-aged youth and young adults
  • Connect community to growing food through our volunteer opportunities
  • Share food with the community —through food-access programs and to our neighbours and community through farmers markets and our CSA veggie box program
  • Provide support for school gardens and associated programming through summer support and teacher professional development
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2020 Impact Report

From Alexa, our Executive Director

There’s an eagle nest at the farm site that Fresh Roots stewards with Delta Farm Roots—a farming mini-school program located on the unceded and traditional territory of the Tsawwassen and Musqueam First Nations. Perched high above in its treetop nest, I wonder what the eagle observes of us. What does it see that we can’t—in how we go about working on the land, and how we navigate working with each other? 2020 was a year that forced new ways of being, but also encouraged new points of view.

At Fresh Roots, this has meant examining what it means for our work to be regenerative. Working from a regenerative approach means to be constantly re-assessing and mindfully evolving. We already know our work is more than just growing food—it’s engaging with and building our community. With that in mind, it’s important for us to learn and listen, to become better allies, and to be stronger and louder advocates for anti-racism and justice. As an organization, our goal is to develop those values and ways of being in our team and in the youth with whom we engage. We are all training to be our own observant eagles, looking out for ourselves and each other. We’re committed to noticing, addressing, and evolving systems that were created with colonial, racist and oppressive mindsets. 

At Fresh Roots, we’ve always known the richest learnings for kids and youth (self-confidence, self-awareness, sense of belonging) have come through the medium of growing, preparing and sharing food. Our path to becoming a regenerative organization reinforces the “roots” we have been nourishing. Every moment out on the schoolyard farms is precious. We are so excited for this growing season and invite you to join us!

Click on the image below to view the report!