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Help! Fresh Roots is Urgently Seeking a Cooler Space in Vancouver

Hello to all Fresh Roots’ wonderful friends & community partners,

I’m reaching out today to ask for help. We have had to vacate our cooler space and need a solution ASAP so that we can operate our market and CSAs this season starting May 15th, 2024. Without a cooler, we may have to cancel and refund our commitments. 

Since our options on our growing sites are limited, we are reaching out to our community to see if there are any other opportunities.

We need a cooler to help keep our weekly harvest by our farm team & youth fresh for the community. Without a cooler, we limit the amount and quality that we can harvest and process in a shorter amount of time, as well as put our farmers and youth at risk by limiting when things can be harvested, especially in the summer heat.

There are two directions we can explore:

  1. A temporary solution: this season starting in mid-May to Oct. 31 to hold us over until we arrive at a permanent solution.
  2. A permanent solution: ongoing, multi-year agreement or set-up for a cooler space that fits our list of needs.

Our Needs

  • 4-6 pallets worth of refrigerated space
  • Flexible access with our own set of keys
  • Located in East Van – ideally within 2 km north of Vancouver Technical Secondary (2600 East Broadway) and 2km south of David Thompson Secondary (1755 East 55th Ave) but we are welcoming suggestions beyond that area.

We are open to:

  • Sharing/renting space
  • Retrofitting a container with a coolbot system or hiring someone to invent a mobile cooler
    1. This option requires a place to park our unit and;
    2. Electricity / Solar Panels (are you an electrician with experience with this kind of thing?)
    3. Possibly also a water hookup, even just with a long hose to an indoor area

Help us save our markets and CSA’s this season, keeping our harvested veggies fresh, but also our opportunities for youth this summer!

Thanks for the time you’ve taken to read this over. If you have resources that fit any of these parameters, we are eager to connect. My contact is listed below. We can pay, trade, share, promote — anything — we just need somewhere to house our veggies through the summer!

Fresh Roots community! We need your help to find our next cooler space.

Contact

Camille Flanjak (she/they)

Director of Farming and Operations

Fresh Roots Urban Farm Society

ph: 778-764-0DIG (0344), ext. 111

camille@freshroots.ca

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2023 SOYL Stories

By Carolina Diaz, 2023 SOYL Facilitator Vancouver

The impact of SOYL, which stands for Sustainable Opportunities for Youth Leadership, is easy to measure in the number of participants in the program or the kilograms of food harvested and distributed. However, it is harder to quantify the lives that have been genuinely touched, the inspiration with which the youth leave and the depth of the connections they have made. This year I was honoured with the opportunity of leading the SOYL program for the Vancouver location. It was a small cohort of 14 participants, 6 of which were neurodivergent, 2 of which were indigenous. 

SOYL Vancouver youth tending to the garden beds

Working together as a team to tackle those summer weeds!

SOYL centers around educating its members on growing their own food, urban farming and the systems that nourish our cities. We worked in the farms under the sun and the rain, harvested food to sell during the Fresh Roots markets in Coquitlam and Vancouver, as well as for CSA boxes (Community Supported Agriculture). I hosted and co-hosted a broad spectrum of workshops. Some of them were centred around farming, plant anatomy, and imagining sustainable cities and cycles. Others touched on sensitive topics, such as mental health, racism, privilege, colonialism’s impact on indigenous populations, and self-development. My higher aim was to keep these discussions motivating, safe and empowering. 

Highlights from our smudging workshop with the SOYL Vancouver youth

More highlights from the SOYL Vancouver smudging workshop

Youth on SOYL are at a pivotal point in their lives. Aimed towards high school-aged youth, this distinct stage of life, developmental psychology shows this is when we start developing an increased awareness of all other humans around us, as well as self-awareness of how we are perceived. There is an urge to classify our person and others, to explore our tastes and discover who we are and who we want to be. Thus, it was rewarding for me to see that our participants felt safe enough to open their hearts and share stories, to show up as their queerest selves, to grow in responsibility and agency but also goof around and Irish dance during our lunch breaks. 

SOYL Vancouver youth doing a drawing activity at Norquay Park

A big theme for me this year has been seeds. Seeds represent transformation, they mean disturbance and growth. 2023 has been a year of seeds for me. My family and I finished our immigration process into Canada, acquiring citizenship (I am Ecuadorian-Canadian now); I have graduated from the University of British Columbia with a major in International Relations and a minor in Environment and Society; I made new friendships and connections; and I moved houses around 4 times (two of which were during SOYL! But we powered through!)

Many youth this year were especially creative and great at drawing!

Now that the program has wrapped up and the youth have moved on with their lives, my only wish is that the program was a positive experience in their lives; a seed, that drives them to be leaders in and servants of their communities, spreading positivity and love for food wherever they go.

The youth brainstormed potential logos for SOYL in honour of the 10th anniversary of the schoolyard farms

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Schoolyard urban farming (BC Farmers’ Market Trail Stories)

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:
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/bcfarmersmarket
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/BCAFM
Twitter: https://twitter.com/bcfarmersmarket
Website: https://bcfarmersmarkettrail.com

#BCFMTStories #BCFarmersMarkets #ExploreBC

Click the image below to check out the segment!

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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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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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Community Spotlight – Made by Malcolm

By Jaimie Rosenwirth, Suwa’lkh Lead and Malcolm’s Support Worker

Malcolm’s Story

Malcolm is a valued Fresh Roots community member with ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder) and the garden at Suwa’lkh School in Kwikwetlem (Coquitlam) is a place that he loves to spend time. He has been working out in the garden with Fresh Roots for 5 or 6 years now. He was a student at Suwa’lkh who helped create the garden and orchard and helped develop the 7 acre food forest next to the school. During his last year of school he worked outside 3 hours a week, seeding, weeding and uppotting. After Malcolm graduated in 2020 he wanted to continue working in the garden. He started volunteering twice a week and kept coming to the garden throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. It provided him with a safe, welcoming place to go every week. This is a place where he is able to build lasting connections with the community.

Malcolm loves to do the uppotting and seed start tasks. Weeding is also a task he loves because there isn’t too much to think about. With weeding everything must go! Malcolm really enjoyed the seed saving of lupine seeds this summer. Harvesting, leaving them to dry in a paper bag, separating seeds, packaging and labelling. He asked if we would be doing this again next year. Malcolm also really enjoys harvesting the purple peacock beans. These are easy to spot and we just have to pull them all off. The simple repetitive tasks are great for Malcolm. He does enjoy learning new farm tasks when we are able. The more things he can do means he has more choices of tasks to choose from when he is here.

Sonia, Malcolm’s Mom, has said “We are so blessed that he is so welcome there! I tell everyone what an amazing program it is all the time. He is so lucky to have Fresh Roots”.

Support the ‘Made by Malcolm’ Fundraiser!

In addition to dedicating his time to help out on the Suwa’lkh schoolyard farm, Malcolm fundraises by selling Made by Malcolm handmade cards. In January, he raised $362.34 in support of Fresh Roots experiential food literacy education programs. Way to go, Malcom and Jaimie!

Malcolm is back with another Made by Malcom Fresh Roots fundraiser, selling sets of holiday cards for $5! Each set comes with four cards (star, tree, snowflake and stocking). Show your support by purchasing a set of cards through their Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/Made-by-Malcom-655182104946615/!

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#SOYLyouth 2021 – Sissi

by Sissi Han, SOYL Suwa’lkh Mentor

Hi, I am Sissi! Here is my blog post!

I chose four pictures from the album and they are my treasured memories.

I took my first picture on my way to Rochester Park. They were hydrangeas. The flowers next to a cluster of clusters, just like small pompons. I felt relaxed at that time. The flowers were blooming brightly, they were gorgeous.

The second picture is a cluster of lavender. The whole SOYL team went to visit colony farm that day and we saw a lot of native plants, fruits, veggies, flowers. Although the temperature was pretty high, I felt well worth seeing these lovely plants. I heard that lavender scents can produce the most positive, calming results.

The third picture is a container full of blueberries from the first week of SOYL market. We harvested a lot of plump, dark blue blueberries. I remembered there were bees flying around, and cobwebs between leaves and branches.

The fourth one is a photo of the curry from Community eats of out crew. The curry was tasty and it smelt so good. We had coconut milk, chickpeas, sweet peppers, and other ingredients that I didn’t really put in the curry I made from home. That was impressive.

This was really a memorable experience!

Bright smiles,

Sissi Han