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