This year the Get Rooted Youth Program is getting an overhaul. We found our previous program was not reaching those who need it most. Instead of focusing on youth already on the path to leadership, our focus is shifting to build the self-esteem, character, and engagement in the community of all high school-aged youth. Those hoping to fuel their personal development, while also building leadership skills. Our goal is to provide workshops and opportunities for students to develop their food literacy and gain experience in the food system. This year we are also working with Life Skills students by incorporating growing food into the classroom.
To build the capacities and confidence of as many students as possible, we will be providing expert-led, multidisciplinary workshops for students in class and after-school. These workshops will be focused on gardening, food literacy and cooking in three Richmond high schools for students in the Life Skills, Fit for Life and Culinary Arts classes. Some of these classes are invited to also attend our sessions at partner elementary schools to participate in the learning, as well as act as mentors to younger students.
Workshop topics in the past have included:
- Food Security: Defined and Redefined
- Food Sovereignty & Food Justice
- Challenges to Change
- Seed Saving in a Changing Climate
- Re-imagining Our Food System: Reducing Waste
- Social Determinants of Health: A Focused Look Into Food Security
- Youth Leaders in Social Change: Meet A Young Farmer!
Good Food Machine
This year, in addition to workshops of a similar nature, students will be able to get involved with our aeroponic growing towers. Several of our partner schools will receive an aeroponic growing tower, generously donated by our sponsor, LoyaltyOne, where students will be responsible for the management of the system and maintaining a healthy vertical garden from seed to plate.
Having a garden inside the classroom brings context to science and mathematics. It allows students to use their prediction, record-keeping and data analysis skills. By bringing in these systems into schools, students not only see and eat the benefits of this technology but learn how to use it, from balancing pH to operating LED lights for growing.
With the majority of today’s population living in urban areas, growing food aeroponically is one of the many skills that can help prepare students for their future. Research has shown that aeroponic growing system use 2% of the water, increase yields by 30%, and grow food up to three times faster than traditional growing methods. Due to the human impact on the climate, this may well be the way the food of the future is grown.
By having youth grow and cook their own food, they can experience first-hand how engaging with food and the community contributes to healthier people, community sustainability, and environment overall. Though we will be teaching how to use the vertical gardens, students act as the primary caretakers, allowing them to take on accountability, responsibility, as well as gain teamwork skills as they work together towards the goal of growing good food.
Summer Employment & Social Enterprise
In 2018-2019, beyond mentoring Kids in the Garden elementary students, our goal is to offer summer employment for high school students to maintain school gardens which often are left to parent volunteers over the summer. Additionally, we’re working on developing a youth beekeeping stream that teaches youth about honey bees, beekeeping and how they can use their resources and skills to develop a social enterprise. Stay tuned for more details as we develop the program further.
In the past, Get Rooted Youth Leaders authored a photo-blog series “Stories in Your Stew“, designed and piloted the Richmond Bike to Farm Tour, saved seeds, raise public awareness for food security through the Get Rooted Symposium. Youth Leaders also conducted a needs assessment through surveying 150+ individuals for the Richmond Bike to Farm Tour Feasibility Study, designed 10 Richmond Eats Farm to Fork Recipe Greeting Cards in honour of Canada 150, and crafted the Seed Matching Game Model – an interactive, educational resource to teach seed literacy to the community.