FARMACIE 3.0 | our charity partner: Fresh Roots
‘The glory of gardening: hands in the dirt, head in the sun, heart with nature. To nurture a garden is to feed not just on the body, but the soul.’
– Alfred Austin
Some of the best ideas are bred from curiosity. When action is inspired by an ‘I wonder if...’ or a ‘What could happen if we...’ there seems to be a shift in the universe where things align to not only clearly answer that question, but also allow the space for those ideas to extrapolate and evolve into something truly great. So is the story of the curiosity of two East Vancouver residents and their backyard farm mission to discover how much food they could grow for their friends, families and neighbours.
Ilana Bower and Gray Oron—co-founders of Fresh Roots—wanted to challenge their urban agriculture skills and the growing conditions here in Vancouver. With a mission to feed their community in mind, they began to cultivate backyard gardens. One such garden bordered the school grounds of Queen Alexandra Elementary whose property played host to an untended, fallow garden in much need of some TLC. The initial project of getting into that one garden space on that singular school grounds has been the catalyst for massive changes in how farming, food systems and education are working here in the city.
So what makes Fresh Roots unique amidst a city of community gardens and farmers’ markets? It’s education and connection. The Schoolyard Garden program offers up a completely different aspect to urban agriculture, and is the first of its kind in Canada. Having the gardens on school grounds boasts a laundry list of benefits ranging from how the garden is interacted with across course subjects through to students having the experience of seeing something they have nurtured come to life (there have been reports of some kids wrestling over broccoli).
The crew at Fresh Roots, amidst creating the farms, running the markets and building the programs know, that they are out to grow community through growing food. The gardens connect urban residents to their food, to nature, and in the process, to one another. By being a hub for the community, gardens become vibrant gathering places where neighbours share stories, knowledge and food across cultures and generations.
Through this, the gardens are not only providing a new source of nourishment and nutrition to those it feeds, but a sustained sense of belonging, welcomeness and connection between the many people that visit its grounds.
What Fresh Roots is up to can be encapsulated by something that one of our favourite authors, Fritjof Capra, wrote.
“Sustainability, is not an individual property but a property of an entire web of relationships. It always involves a whole community. This is the profound lesson we need to learn from nature. The way to sustain life is to build and nurture community. A sustainable human community interacts with other communities – human and nonhuman – in ways that enable them to live and develop according to their nature.”
The garden at David Thompson Secondary that we will gather in on July 12 has created unimaginable change in the school’s neighbourhood and community. Students take pride in their surroundings; they participate differently in their outdoor classes; educators actively grow their ability to understand the garden so they too can re-inspire their students and activate a new, experiential form of learning in their school year. And, the neighbourhood shows up to create a new sense of connectedness and unity.They’re united by Fresh Roots.
Blog Post written by Jessica Robson | Visit freshroots.ca to learn more