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How to Cook Outside with Kids

By Andrea Lucy, Experiential Learning Program Lead

Cooking with kids can be chaotic, fun, challenging, exhausting, and rewarding. Not every recipe will turn out perfectly; vegetables will be oddly cut and measurements may be skewed, but that’s okay! It’s the experience that matters. Cooking and eating together allows us to celebrate the joy of food and fosters exploration of new foods and recipes. And we can show kids that veggies are delicious!

Our food messaging is always positive, and we meet kids where they are at. Love veggies? Try a new one, or a new way of preparing it! Don’t like veggies? Try an adventure bite! Really hate veggies? Help prepare them, so you can see what they look and smell like, even if you aren’t ready to taste it today.

 

Community eats!

 

What do we cook?

At Fresh Roots, we love veggie-forward snacks and meals. Our meal ideas often start from the kids’ interests. Kids may make their own “farm candies” by wrapping up seeds and petals in a kale leaf wrapper with a stem tie. Other times, kids will request a specific meal, like tacos or pesto.

There are many snacks and meals you can make outside without electricity. We regularly make a big salad with a shaken dressing, or fresh spring rolls with rice paper. Pesto can be made with a mortar and pestle (and elbow grease), or no-bake cookies using pumpkin puree. Some tried and true kid-approved recipes are:

Cooking helps kids build a relationship with food, and with those they are cooking and sharing the meal with. Kids learn to read a recipe, grasp the basics of fractions through measurement, and working together as a team.

Farm fresh tacos

 

How do we cook outside?

Luckily, it doesn’t take many supplies to cook outside. We have a table or two and a nearby outdoor sink for hand washing (a laundry sink with a hose attached is a simple DIY). Usually the only other tools we need is the food, cutting boards, knives, and serving dishes.

We practice food safety, and the kids love to help! We set-up a dishwashing station with three bins of water: 1 with dish soap, one with plain rinsing water, and the last with a food-safe amount of bleach. The dishes then go to a dishrack or are dried with cloths. Dishwashing in this way is like water play, with soap bubbles! It’s not unusual for the kids to beg for extra dishes to wash.

Dishwasher extraordinaires

 

How to teach knife skills?

You give kids knives?!?!? Yes, all the time, and they do incredibly well with them even at a young age. When it comes to using knives, we emphasize again and again that they are a tool and safety comes first. So, how can you teach a kid who has never used a knife to chop safely?

  • We love starting off new chefs with plastic cooking knives. They can cut through most soft vegetables, but not through skin. A miracle tool for letting kids figure out how to chop and safely make mistakes. Even though we use plastic knives, we ask kids to pretend they are sharp metal when practicing. Once they feel comfortable and confident using plastic knives, then we graduate up to sharp ones.
  • Go over knife safety with the kids:
    • When cutting, eyes are always on the knife
    • Safety bubble from other people
    • The hand holding the food makes a “bear-claw”. This protects your fingers in case the knife slips.

Chopping vegetables using the “bear claw” method to keep all fingers safe.

Where to get food?

One of the beautiful things about cooking outside is that you can prepare meals right where the food grows — true farm-to-table cooking! We’re fortunate to steward bountiful farms and gardens on school grounds. Oftentimes there is food growing right outside our doors, we just have to look.

Many grocery stores have a rack with produce that is deeply discounted because it’s considered imperfect or over-ripe. Cooking with this food is a great way to naturally bring in discussions about food waste and ways to reduce waste in our food system. There are a number of organizations diverting large amounts of produce from the landfill by connecting it with charities and schools (ex. Food Runners).

Lastly, we’re grateful to receive donations from local food producers and suppliers. Fresh Roots once again received a generous donation from Nature’s Path, a local organic food producer, to support our kids and youth cooking programs.

Pea-camole recipe using Nature Path’s Que Pasa tortilla chips and salsa

 

 

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FARMER’S LOG, SEED DATE OCTOBER 26, 2022

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

Farm Manager: Season Overview

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. 

A Week in the Boots of a Farm Manager

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. 

  • Email, orders, payments, newsletters, blog
  • Data entry of harvest, sales & CSA records from the previous week
  • 15-minute visits to the sites to see what veggies are coming up and making lists of what needs to be done
  • This week’s harvest planning for CSA and Market. Record plans in the Harvest Plan and CSA Plan documents
  • Field work plans for the week plus delegation of seeding & transplanting plans and ensuring data entry has been done
  • Work plan emailed to all the farm team including links to Field Work, CSA & Harvest Plans
  • Communicating in slack with all the other departments in Fresh Roots about what kids can do on the farm, and where we might need help. This means making clear plans with facilitators and managers in: Experiential Learning (EL), Sustainable Opportunities for Youth leadership (SOYL), & our Administrators (ED, Ops, and Comms). 
  • Fresh Sheet for EL so they can plan their farm lunches for day camp (feeds 40 kids)
  • Expense reporting
  • Review & approve the farm team’s hours if it’s the end of a pay period

Tuesday – Harvest Day

  • 730am: meet at David Thompson to harvest tender veggies
  • 1130am: ICC cooler – drop off harvest and eat lunch
  • 1-3pm: Van tech harvest of fruiting veggies / hot crops
  • 3-330pm: drop off harvest at the ICC cooler

Wednesday – Market Day & CSA Pickup #1

  • 730am: harvest flowers & any remaining harvest needed for CSA or Market
  • 1130am: pick up our bread order and maybe mushroom order
  • Lunch!
  • 1-330pm: help set up the market (operates 3-7)  with the Market Lead and whoever is helping out that day; either another farm team member, SOYL Youth, or volunteers

Thursday – Harvest Day

  • 730am: David Thompson
  • 1130am: ICC Cooler
  • Lunch!
  • 1-3pm: Van Tech
  • 3-330pm: ICC cooler

Friday – Field Work, Remaining Harvest & CSA Delivery for Pickup #2

  • 730am: complete any necessary harvest for CSA Pickup / Saturday market. Otherwise field work! 230 CSA Delivery to Collingwood Neighbourhood House for their “Community Care Veggie Box” program
  • 330pm: finished!

Saturday – VFM Market 

OFF!

Sunday – Everybody takes a day of rest!

OFF!

Wrapping Up the Season

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

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Farm Fresh Cooking

On every Fresh Roots farm this summer, children and youth are harvesting fresh veggies and cooking up a feast! So what are we cooking? 

 

Salad Mondays

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!

 

Snack Attack

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. 

 

Community Eats

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!

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FARMER’S LOG, SEED DATE AUGUST 12, 2022

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 – camille@freshroots.ca! 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

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FARMER’S LOG, SEED DATE JULY 1, 2022

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 Blomley

They/She

Market Lead

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 Burton

She/They

David Thompson Field Lead

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 Tuck

He/They

Van Tech Field Lead

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. 

Freshta Mohibi

She/Her

Market Assistant

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

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Meet the Flame Weeder: Why We’re Using Fire on the Farm

By Andrea Lucy, Experiential Learning Program Lead

Last year, we wrote about how weeds can be used as food and medicine. Now I’m about to tell you that at Fresh Roots we remove most of our weeds. Surprised?

We’ve got a problem. It’s as thick as weeds out there on the farm. Whether you view weeds in a good or bad light, we have WAY too many! From February to October, our farmers spend the time planting. From February to February, our farmers weed, over and over and over again. It’s a losing battle, nature has a leg up on us. And it’s a shame. Not only does it mean it’s more difficult and time-consuming for us to grow beautiful, large produce to share with the community, but it also means students spend less time planting, caring for sprouts, and harvesting because the time is consumed by weeding.

But, we have a solution. Introducing the flame weeder!

Fresh Roots farmer with a flame weeder in July. The flame weeder is burning all the weeds in the carrot beds, helping our little carrots germinate and sprout without competition for nutrients and water.

Did your jaw drop? Mine did too at first when I heard we use this. After last year’s wildfires that wreaked through interior BC, the last thing we want is fire on the landscape. Right? Not necessarily. As our farmers have shown, the difference here is that the flame weeder is a very controlled fire. We choose where the small fire goes, and have all the resources at the ready to put the fire out when we want to.

Here are a few reasons why a flame weeder is a beneficial tool on our farms:

  • Helps us grow food organically without the use of pesticides.
  • Reclaim farmland we can’t use otherwise due to the forest of weeds
  • Increases efficiency (eg: less labour weeding = more food to market)
  • More time for education, less time weeding
  • Learning with plants year-round. During the winter many classes visit our farms, but because of our issues with weeds, we have to cover all our rows with black tarps to try to smother the weeds during winter. Therefore, visiting classes can’t engage with any winter crops or plants.
  • Can practice no-till method with the flame weeder, meaning we don’t destroy the delicate network of bacteria, fungi, invertebrates, and nutrients built up in the soil. The no-till method also reduces soil erosion.

We’ve got a plan, now all we need are a couple more flame weeders to add to our toolkit.

 

Using controlled fire on the landscape is nothing new, but it’s something we’ve forgotten in the last 150 years of colonization. Dr. Amy Christianson’s and many other Indigenous scholars and firefighters’ work on “Good Fire” is bringing this sustainable tradition back to light, during a time it’s desperately needed. This Ologies podcast with host Alie Ward and guest Dr. Amy Christianson is an eye-opening introduction to Indigenous Fire Ecology . The Good Fire podcast goes even deeper, with an emphasis on the BC context.

To learn more about the good, the bad, and the ugly of weeds, try out some of the hands-on activities here:

Needy Weedy Activities

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A Day at Camp Fresh Roots

Fresh Roots campers come back year after year to join us in games, veggie snacks, learning activities, and caring for the diversity of plants and animals on the farm. Here’s a glimpse into what a day at camp is like:

 

Good Morning!

After camp check-in, we start the morning together. We may start with a game to get to know one another better. Or, we may begin with a morning stretch, song, or colouring activity.

 

Caring for the Farm

The farm feeds us, so we nourish it with time, attention and care. You can find us planting seeds, watering sprouts, and weeding. We learn how to use tools big and small to get the job done! This time often turns into discovery and observation of the critters calling the soil home. And yes, we love to get messy in our exploration! 


 

Run and Play

It’s hard to stay still when there is so much room to play! We love playing games together. During our games, we pretend to be fruit salad, decomposers, or plants chased by farmers.

 

Lunch and Munch

After a busy morning, we all sit down together for lunch. We love to read stories while we eat. Wait until later this week when we all prepare a lunch meal together, dessert included!

 

Art and Imagination

The farm is full of inspiration for arts and crafts. We may make a bug hotel for our little friends, a collage, paint a pot for our new little seed. Each day we create something different. 

 

Snack Time!

What’s the best part of farm camp? Getting to harvest fresh vegetables and turn them into delicious snacks, all in the same place! We learn how to harvest plants, and only take what we need. Camp staff lead us through how to cut, chop, measure, and mix ingredients together into a colourful meal. Washing up is faster when we all lend a helping hand. 

 

Closing Circle

That’s a wrap on a day at Camp Fresh Roots! We finish like we started: together as a group. We close off camp with circle games and sharing our favourite moments of the day. 

 

Join Us for a Summer of Fun!

Every day at camp is a little different, with new critters to discover, games to play, and veggies to taste.  Click here to learn what past campers have enjoyed the most!

Will you join us at Camp Fresh Roots this summer?

Registration opens February 18th at https://freshroots.ca/education/camp/

 

Here’s an example schedule of a week at Camp Fresh Roots:

A table describing activities campers participate in at Camp Fresh Roots. Each column is a day of the week, from Monday to Friday. The rows describe the activities throughout the day, listed from morning to afternoon. On Monday, the activities are: Opening Circle; Welcome Games; Make Snack; Lunch; Farming (planting); Arts & Crafts; and Closing Circle. On Tuesday, the activities are: Opening Circle; Farming (weeding); Arts & Crafts; Lunch; Games; Make Snack; Closing Circle. On Wednesday, the activities are: Opening Circle; Arts & Crafts; Farming (insect observation); Make Snack; Games; Closing Circle. On Thursday, the activities are: Opening Circle; Make Snack; Games; Lunch; Arts & Crafts; Farming (harvest veggies); and Closing Circle. On Friday, the activities are: Opening Circe; Cook Lunch (appetizer, main and dessert); Eat Lunch; Digging; Games; and Closing Circle.

Note: our 3-day sampler camps do not participate in a field trip

 

We hope to see you at camp!

-Andrea Lucy, Experiential Learning Program Lead

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End-Of-Season Harvest Reflections

By Kat Vriesema-Magnuson, Experiential Learning Manager

Halloween. Dia de Muertos. Samhain. All Saints and All Souls Days. This time of year the harvest makes way for the long cold nights of winter in the Northern hemisphere, and it’s no surprise that many cultures take time to reflect on death, decay, mortality, and those who’ve gone before. All that lives must die, to make way for what will come after. On the farm this month we’ve seen the massive heads of sunflowers go from cheery reminders of summer, to drooping, black reminders that summer must end. We’ve torn up the plants that were lovingly tended all season, and returned their corpses to the compost bin. In spring, we’ll plant again, and we’ll use compost to enrich our soils. This year’s beans and tomatillos and zucchini won’t be forgotten, though, and neither will the young people we’ve worked with this year. The lessons we learned from this growing and learning season will help next year be even better.

I’ve slowly been learning more about the ancestral traditions of my family, and especially my Finnish grandmother. In Finland, Kekri marks the end of the summer’s work and the transition to winter. It was traditionally observed whenever a household’s summer work was done. Eventually, it became standardized to November 1 in western Finland, where my family came from. Like many other celebrations at this time of year, it was a celebration of the end of the harvest, and a remembrance of the dead. The sauna was cleaned and heated, a feast was prepared, and the spirits of ancestors were invited to enjoy the sauna and eat the feast. Once the ancestors had their fill, it was time for the family to do the same. During Kekri, no one was to go hungry, and food and drink would be offered to anyone who came to the door, even children dressed in scary outfits, who would threaten to break the household’s oven if they weren’t given treats. That sure sounds familiar!

With the end of October, our “summer work” is basically done here on the Experiential Learning Team. Field trips are wrapped up, camp is long done, and we’ve said goodbye to nearly all of our seasonal staff. Now is the time for reflecting on what’s happened, looking for what should be pruned away and what should be allowed to flourish in the new year. It’s time to breathe and rest and dream of spring. And it’s time to celebrate our many accomplishments from the past year, and see what all we’ve “harvested”. So here’s a quick run down of what we’ve done this year:

  • We engaged learners from pre-K through 12 in over 11,000(!) hours of learning on the farms and in the community!
  • We more than doubled the number of campers in our summer camps, from 125 to 286, and we were able to offer five free camp spaces at our Suwa’lkh camps.
  • We hosted over 60 classes from local elementary and secondary schools on our farms for field trips, and brought the farm to over 30 classes and day camp groups for workshops!
  • We employed 8 young adults in seasonal positions, where they learned as they taught, and grew in their skills and knowledge alongside our program participants!

I hope all of your harvests have been equally fruitful this year!

In gratitude for abundance and the legacy of those who’ve gone before,

Kat

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Farmer’s Log, Seed Date September 1, 2021

Technically the title of this report is wrong. Sept 1 is not a seed-date this month, and there won’t be any more seed-dates for 2021. All our seeds and transplants are in the ground, fully germinated, and fate has been determined– sort of. The intended fate for our veggies is to land in CSA boxes and market shelves. This doesn’t always happen because of the pressure of pests, diseases, weeds, and theft. But I digress…

What a whirlwind of a month, August was. It’s peak harvest season, with a slew of intense heat, drought, and financial crunchiness. Meanwhile the administration team at Fresh Roots is hauling to raise funds so we can afford to operate everything from SOYL Programs across 3 sites in the lower mainland, to EL summer camp, not to mention farming vegetables. 

Although all the numbers aren’t quite in, I think the Backyard Harvest Dinner was a success, Fresh Roots having met our fundraising goal of 20K in pledges and silent auction bids (excluding ticket sales). It is such an epic feat to pull this kind of thing off. There is so much organizing, networking, communication, timing, collaboration, showmanship, and rather bad poetry (sorry-not-sorry). Witnessing Caroline Manuel (Communications), Vivian Cheung (Ops), and Alexa Pitoulis (our ED) pull the whole thing together was kind of like magic. That said, every single person on our core team pulled weight, whether it was packing dinner boxes, cooking for 50 people, or trucking equipment from 3 sites. 

The highlight of the fundraiser for me was the farm team planning our outfits. All season long we were very proud to imagine ourselves as a band called “Planting for Death” – a term I use to refer to re-planting holes where transplants have failed. The team loves to take the weird things I say (ie: “great,great,great,great,great;” “It’s fine, I’m fine, Everything is fine;” and other sayings not quite family-friendly enough to list) and turn them into songs. Well, not literal songs. We are more in our ‘concepts and planning’ phase. The only literal thing P4D has done was put together outfits, dye some eyebrows, and do a little dancing for a fundraiser. But you better trust that our literal outfits were literally epic. This Farm Momma doesn’t lie. 

Last week we said goodbye to our beloved Isobel, the part-time flower arranger and ponderer of deep, comical musings. We planted seeds of rebellion in her, and she is returning to school in Saskatchewan to mess up industrial agriculture. This month we will be bidding our Market Lead, Nico, adieu, as he returns to Ontario to connect (like, he is a dude who really connects) with the Food Security community out there. Piper, Mia and I (with an assist from Galen) will be holding down the fort on the farm and market scene until the third week of October when we will put the farm to sleep for the winter. 

September is my favourite month of all time. First of all, it’s my birthday month and I Thank-Mother I was born. Mushrooms begin to pop out, it’s sweater-weather, and the chill in the air cools down my summer-boiled temper. This is a moment when we still have all the wonderful fruiting veggies of the summer while the cool season crops come on, so we get to enjoy a cornucopia of diversity. I’m looking forward to filling our CSA Boxes and Market Shelves with a plethora of colours, shared with all of you.

-Farmer Camille