This summer saw another successful season of SOYL – an outdoor education program for high school students that takes place at two educational farms located at Vancouver Technical and David Thompson Secondary Schools. The program is a partnership between Fresh Roots Urban Farm Society, and the University of British Columbia's Intergenerational Landed Learning Project.
During the school year, Fresh Roots maintains the farms as outdoor classrooms available for field trips and teacher-led lessons. During the summer months, about 30 high school aged youth from all walks of life (including several from the Vancouver School Board's Life Skills program) take over the farms to spend an exciting seven weeks immersed in the food system. From field to fork, they grow, harvest, cook, preserve, eat, and compost while acquiring course credits, earning a stipend, and having a ton of fun.
The students enroll in the Introduction to Sustainability 11 course (taught by a VSB teacher), earning credits towards graduation, and are also eligible to receive Work Experience credits. SOYL goes way beyond the course curriculum! The students learn cooking skills from Growing Chefs!, who lead them in preparing "Community Eats" twice a week. This entails the students taking turns in crews of 5-6 to make gourmet lunches for the whole group, utilizing food that would otherwise have gone to waste (such as harvest culls, farmers market leftovers, and local donations). Other crew activities include farm chores such as weeding, watering and harvesting; participating in leadership workshops; preserving jam and salsa from scratch; selling produce and preserves at the Trout Lake Farmers Market; and taking local field trips to explore various components of Metro Vancouver's food system.
A very busy but truly fun and engaging program, several students repeat the experience, becoming mentors in subsequent years – meaning they earn a bigger stipend and take on added responsibilities such as supporting new members.
To learn more about the SOYL program, contact the VSB Sustainability Team on firstname.lastname@example.org