Saturday Farmers’ Market Vendor Feature: CRUW
This week we are featuring CRUW, which stands for Culturally Relevant Urban Wellness. This program was developed in 2011 in order to promote green space as a source of wellness and concrete skill development for vulnerable youth. There are four distinct program streams for the youth to participate in, one of which is the UBC Farm Program. Through this stream, youth are exposed to gardening, food preservation canning, salmon smoking, as well as medicinal tea and salve production from plants at the UBC Farm. On June 8th, we were able to speak with Ryley, who is both the Market Coordinator and a Program Coordinating Assistant for CRUW. He answered the following questions for us:
What product are you selling at Market today?
Today we are selling the infamous CRUW salve, which is something the program has been producing for about 4 or 5 years now. We were taught how to make it by the Knowledge-keepers, our Aboriginal Elders, that work with the program. They share with us all the information about the plants that are native to the land and this allowed us to create this natural skin care product, tweak it for various needs, and produce it in large quantities.
What can CRUW salve be used for?
It can be used for bug bites, mosquito bites, rashes, skin inflammation, and things of the like. I have two cats at home and I am allergic to both of them and when we are playing and they scratch me it swells up. This is the product I use in order to help with the swelling and irritation.
What distinguishes this product from others in the “skin care family”?
I have tried a number of products for this need, but the ones sold in general stores all have an unspeakable amount of ingredients with strange chemicals. What is so great about our product is that all the ingredients can be found here; what we are growing, harvesting and creating on the farm. We know what is going onto our skin and we know that it will not harm us as the information has been passed down from generation to generation. It is amazing that we are now the next group of people with this knowledge and to know these benefits. Some of the ingredients included in the salve are: sage, vitamin E, coconut oil, lavender and chamomile.
Does CRUW make other products?
Later in the summer season, we usually sell teas, which are also made from plants that are native to the land. We just finished making them last week, so we are moving onto the labeling process. We also make sage oil, by letting sage bathe in caster or olive oil for an extended period of time to soak up all the nutrients and benefits of the sage. It has an amazing aroma!
Do you anticipate any new products in the future?
Yes! This year we are trying something new and working to develop a greater variety of skincare products and self-care items. For example, bath bombs, salts and foot scrubs. We are also looking at creating a salve for your lips. A lot of exciting things are coming our way and we are looking forward to sharing these products with others and hearing how they enjoy it.
Who makes the products within the program?
All youth part of the UBC Farm Program participate in some way, as they are all involved in growing and harvesting of the plants. The Youth Mentorship Committee is responsible for turning the ingredients into an effective product. The youth mentors meet about once per month for a few hours, and it is during these meetings that they work hard to make, label and organize the product so that they are ready for sale.
What is something you would like customers to know about CRUW?
We are selling our products to bring forward the knowledge that we have while also sustaining the programs that our organization provides. CRUW is highly valuable because it allows many youth, such as myself, to feel connected to our culture. Growing up in foster care is really tough, and it can be so easy to get lost in the city and within the systems delegated to “protecting” youth. This program is really awesome for me personally, because the leaders have been able to teach me how to cultivate my own feeling of how to be a strong Indigenous person. This type of experience is what customers are supporting when they purchase our products, as all proceeds go directly back to the program.
How long have you been involved with the CRUW Program?
I was a participant in the program in 2011 and 2012, after that I moved into the youth mentor role. I have continued volunteering my time to this program because I feel that it has helped me so much in getting a jumpstart in life. I have gained so much leadership capacity and life skills throughout my time with CRUW.
CRUW can be found at the UBC Farm Saturday Farmers’ Market every second week on all of the following dates: Jun 22, July 06, July 20, Aug 03, Aug 17, Aug 31, Sept 14, Sept 28 and Oct 12. For more information on CRUW see the following links: Website | UBC Farm Facebook | UBC LFS Website.