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Belle’s Roots

November 1, 2017


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When Belle’s family moved to Canada, they found they weren’t eating vegetables as frequently, or eating the same kinds of vegetables as often as they did back in Israel. According to Danica, Belle’s mom, Belle wasn’t as interested in the fresh vegetables she once ate on a daily basis.

Belle’s experience with the hands-on Growing Chefs! program helped change that. Each week, Belle would eagerly await the chefs’ arrival for the Growing Chefs! program. When the students gathered together on the carpet for their “Garden Talk”, her hand  shot up first, eager to take part in the discussions about cooking, gardening, and healthy food. After her lessons with Growing Chefs!, Belle went home and began to request the vegetables her family ate back in Isreal.

“My daughter looks forward to it all week!” said Danica. “She’s loving eggplant and fennel again! The program really helped us connect to the healthy fresh diet we were used to in Israel.” Danica continued, “I felt the program encouraged health and expansiveness around food, as well as kitchen skills and confidence. We have incorporated lots of new produce to our shopping list. We can’t wait to have a garden when Belle’s brother is old enough not to pick everything!!”

Belle, now a Gr. 3 student, participated in the Growing Chefs! program this past spring in Mme Podwinksi’s Gr. 1/2 class at Sir James Douglas Annex. Back in April, Belle sat with her fellow students on the carpet of their classroom. Trying to keep still until their turn, the students shifted and wiggled in their seats buzzing with excitement, each student clutching a vegetable in their lap. It was Lesson 3 of the Growing Chefs! program–Vegetables from Around the World. In this lesson, the kids are asked to bring a vegetable from home to do a Vegetable Show and Tell. They make a short presentation to tell the class what they brought, why they brought it, and one special fact about their vegetable.IMG_0193

The classroom’s chef volunteers–Chef Leela, Chef Jaydeen, and Chef Olivia took turns calling on the students to come up and share their vegetable story. When they called on eight-year-old Belle, her big blue eyes lit up with anticipation. Belle hadn’t just brought one vegetable to share, she and her family had prepared a salad they ate often in Isreal, before immigrating to Canada. She was eager to share her salad and her culture with the class and the chefs. In Belle’s words, “Growing Chefs is fun and tasty. I learned to cut with a knife safely and make really good salads. Also, I learned that Growing Chefs has the biggest carrots I’ve ever seen!”

Support more kids like Belle with a donation to Growing Chefs! From November 1 – 28, all new monthly donations will be matched! Click to learn more.


Israeli Salad
1 English cucumber or 4-Lebanese
2-3 firm but ripe tomatoes depending on size (3 Roma)
Half an onion red/yellow
2 tbsp olive oil
Half a juiced lemon
Salt and pepper to taste
Dill or Cilantro are also added depending on the accompanying meal

All vegetables should be cut into very small uniform cubes. Mix in the bowl and serve right away fresh. If you pre-make the salad add the lemon and salt before serving to prevent pickling.




From Farms To Forks 8 thank you!

October 4, 2017


Photo credit: Dyson Media
*Stay tuned for our photo essay to relive the night’s culinary adventures.

From Farms to Forks 8 was another incredibly delicious night! We hope everyone enjoyed the evening as much as we did, and all of us at Growing Chefs! send a huge thank you to everyone that helped make the night a success! Each year, our founder and chair, Merri Schwartz reads a thank you poem at the event. In case you missed it:

The Tale of From Farms to Forks Eight

It’s hard to believe, it’s From Farms to Forks Eight!
The time has flown by—to that all can relate.
One thing hasn’t changed, it’s this site and this school.
Julian, Darren, and students, you guys bring the cool.

And while on that subject, Yves and Sylvia, a pleasure,
We’ll see you each fall when we gather together.
This year we’ve been sponsored—how grateful we are!
Whole Foods, Mission Hill your help goes so far.

And speaking of help, Mission Hill jumped in like heroes,
Without wine for the pairings, attendance could have been zero!
And beer! Moody Ales, thanks again—pints for all!
We know when you’re here, chefs will answer the call.

Our Masters of Ceremony, Fred and Margaret, hello!
You charm us through dinner and put on a great show.
Our Board of Directors, you guide and advise,
Your wisdom is deep and your hearts a huge size.

To Fio Designs, and the lovely Fiona,
Thank goodness your name rhymes with our printers, Artona.
To WestJet for donating our sweet raffle prize!
And our media sponsors for catching your eyes.

They’re Edible Vancouver, Daily Hive, Scout and Olivia,
Our 49 volunteers—how ‘bout that piece of trivia?
Our fine bushel sponsors, who donate many-an-item,
No tea, bread, cheese, honey, and more things without ‘em¹.

I could not continue without first thanking chefs²,
We call and we ask, and then they do the rest.
Our growers³, we honour your hard work and your toil,
Our plates are filled up from what you pull from the soil.

To everyone who donated to our killer silent auction,
You guys, place some bids, you’ve got quite a few options.
Our grade two and three students from Strathcona who’ll present,
Isabelle and Anthony, your speech makes this event.

To Nick Bedford, you’re hired! So many tickets you peddled!
To SVP and Les Dames—we’re grateful. It’s settled.
Our staff, that’s just obvious, but in addition—their families!
They volunteer, purchase tickets, but it’s not an anomaly…

We get support from so many, it’s truly amazing.
It makes my heart warm, I think what I am saying,
Is thanks to each one, we’re so glad you showed up.
That’s the last line, now let’s toast. Raise your cup!

‌‍¹ Thank you to Namasthé Tea Co., Terra Breads, Little Qualicum Cheeseworks, and Blue Heron Creamery.

² Thank you to our chefs and restaurants Richard Boucher at Curious Oyster Catering Company, Chef Rob Clarke at The Arbor, Chef Nathan Lowey at Dosanko, Chef Jennifer Belbeck at Musette Caffé, Chef de Cuisine Sheldon Maloff at Provence Marinaside, Chef Alvin Pillay at The Three Brits Public House, Bartender Jonathan Dennis at Forage, Executive Chef Karan Suri at ARC at Fairmont Waterfront, Chef de Cuisine Jesse McMillan at Campagnolo Roma, Chef Ryan Bissell at North Arm Farm, Executive Chef Stewart Boyles at Culinary Capers Catering and Events, Chef de Cuisine Christopher West at Homer St. Cafe, Chef Gilles L’Heureux at Los Cuervos Taqueria & Cantina, Executive Chef Brendan Robson at The Observatory, Executive Chef Morgan Lechner and Executive Sous Chef Edison Antejos at Pier 73, Chef Leanne Lalonde at pilgrimme, Chef Tret Jordan at Tableau Bar Bistro, Executive Sous Chef John Pavle at The Lazy Gourmet, Pastry Chef Maxime Sander at West, Pastry Chef Shobna Kannusamy at Soirette, Chocolate Maker Shelley Bolton at East Van Roasters.

³ Thank you to our growers and producers Out Landish Shellfish GuildKlippers Organic AcresUBC FarmCrisp OrganicsSapo BravoSOLEFood, Hannah Brook Farm, North Arm FarmHelmer’s Organic FarmFresh RootsOkanagan Spirits, Stoney Paradise Farm, Two Rivers Specialty MeatsCentral Park FarmsGlorious OrganicsHazelmere Organic Farm, Galiano Sunshine Farm, Sapo Bravo, Parsons Farm Market, and MGM Sales and Distribution.

From Farms to Forks 8: Introducing Bartender Jonathan Dennis from Forage

September 22, 2017

Instead of another chef, today Growing Chefs! is introducing the mind behind the featured cocktail for our gala: Jonathan Dennis of Forage. He’ll be treating us with a blend of Okanagan Spirits’ Aquavit, freshly-squeezed lime juice, simple syrup, and locally-grown dill. Jonathan is a new volunteer and looks forward to one day stepping into the classroom to share his love of combining sustainable ingredients to make something even more mouthwatering. He decided to join us because our mission statement aligns with his goal of tying people to their food in meaningful ways.

Jonathan didn’t start out as a bartender; he began working at Forage running food four years ago. He was entranced by the alchemy by which bartenders put together some of the unlikeliest ingredients to make something new and refreshing that pairs beautifully with the restaurant’s local, sustainable meals. He especially likes working with spirits because of their versatility, which is why he chose Aquavit.

IMG_0647Jonathan(Mixologist)ForageThis Scandinavian spirit is finally catching on in North America, particularly the west coast. It’s flavoured with caraway or dill, making it a perfect match for the crisp sprig of dill that garnishes the featured cocktail. The result is a light beverage that toes the line between sweet and savoury, making it as versatile as the spirit that is its base. When a more neutral base is needed, Jonathan recommends vodka, which is also excellent for infusing if you’re interested in developing a flavoured spirit of your own. For more tips and tricks on creating a perfectly-balanced cocktail, say hello to Jonathan at our gala! Fresh Roots is providing the dill for the event!

From Farms to Forks: A Harvest Kitchen Party, is on Sunday, October 1st at 5:30 pm. It’s a 19+ event because there will be a wide selection of cocktails and BC wine and beer to enjoy. This event is unique because rather than sitting down to enjoy a gourmet meal, our guests are invited to go to various tasting stations where more than fifteen chefs and local growers are present to answer questions. In addition, there will be a silent auction and a raffle. The event takes place at the gorgeous Pacific Institute of Culinary Arts. You can buy tickets here. Please contact if you have any questions.

We look forward to enjoying this one-of-a-kind night out with you!

Photo Credits:
 All photos taken by Olivia Sari-Goerlach of OSG Photography

From Farms to Forks 8: Introducing Chef Rob Clarke from The Arbor

September 11, 2017

IMG_0515.jpgToday, Growing Chefs! is introducing yet another talented local chef: Rob Clarke of The Arbor, formerly of The Acorn. Chef Clarke has volunteered in the classroom with us, but will also join us at our upcoming 8th annual harvest kitchen party, From Farms to Forks on October 1. Chef Clarke’s passion for food began in childhood. He lived on the edge of town on Vancouver Island and the forest was his playground. He picked his lunch while he played, making a game of finding edible berries and greens. He loves Growing Chefs! because it gives him the chance to teach kids how fun growing, preparing, and eating vegetables can be.

Chef Clarke has become an expert on foraging, and his repertoire extends much farther than it did before his love of cooking became his livelihood. He now has a broad knowledge of what he thinks of as foraging gold: mushrooms. Although mushrooms grow all over the forest, it can be tricky to find ones that are edible, which is why he values them so much. They have an earthier character than cultivated mushrooms because of the variety of minerals available in the forest, which can’t be reproduced by humans. He loves chanterelles best, particularly in a risotto.

He recommends taking a workshop on mushrooming, which he felt was necessary before he was confident he could avoid picking poisonous fungi. Although the flavour isn’t quite as hearty, an alternative to mushrooming is to cultivate native mushroom species in your own backyard. Although mushrooms are pretty advanced foraging, Chef Clarke would be happy to tell you all about foraging a variety of other plants at our gala!


From Farms to Forks: A Harvest Kitchen Party, is on Sunday, October 1st at 5:30 pm. It’s a 19+ event because there will be a wide selection of cocktails and BC wine and beer to enjoy. This event is unique because rather than sitting down to enjoy a gourmet meal, our guests are invited to go to various tasting stations where more than fifteen chefs and local growers are present to answer questions. In addition, there will be a silent auction and a raffle. The event takes place at the gorgeous Pacific Institute of Culinary Arts. You can buy tickets here. Please contact if you have any questions.

We look forward to enjoying this one-of-a-kind night out with you!

Photo Credits: All photos taken by Olivia Sari-Goerlach of OSG Photography

From Farms to Forks 8: Introducing Chef Jennifer Belbeck from Musette Caffe

September 8, 2017


You may have heard of a charming bicycle-themed enclave amidst the hustle and bustle of downtown Vancouver: Musette Caffe. This is home to the talented Chef Jennifer Belbeck, who Growing Chefs! is lucky to count not only as a classroom volunteer but one of the chefs featured at our upcoming harvest kitchen party on October 1st. Chef Belbeck grew up on a farm in Saskatchewan, where she learned that good food starts with good soil. After moving to Vancouver, she heard about our program and jumped at the chance to offer the same education to urban children that she enjoyed in the prairies.

When choosing produce, Chef Belbeck cares about sustainable farming practices. Growing up, she learned from experience the importance of rotating crops and growing plants that support each other together, like planting legumes with vegetables that are prone to nitrogen deficiency. Creating more natural conditions for the plants to grow in also means you don’t have to use pesticides or GMOs.

Although Chef Belbeck avoids genetically-modified foods, she loves surprising our little chefs in the classroom with unusual vegetables, from zebra tomatoes to easter egg radishes. Most of the students favour more processed vegetables, like bagged baby carrots, so she loves to demonstrate how beautiful nature can be with minimal human intervention. She loves asking the kids what orange cauliflower tastes like — it looks just like cheddar but it tastes like white cauliflower! You can ask her about how these unusual vegetables are grown at our upcoming event!

From Farms to Forks: A Harvest Kitchen Party, is on Sunday, October 1st at 5:30 pm. It’s a 19+ event because there will be a wide selection of cocktails and BC wine and beer to enjoy. This event is unique because rather than sitting down to enjoy a gourmet meal, our guests are invited to go to various tasting stations where more than fifteen chefs and local growers are present to answer questions. In addition, there will be a silent auction and a raffle. The event takes place at the gorgeous Pacific Institute of Culinary Arts. You can buy tickets here. Please contact if you have any questions.

We look forward to enjoying this one-of-a-kind night out with you!

Photo Credits: All photos taken by Olivia Sari-Goerlach of OSG Photography

Be the fun guy; Grow your own mushrooms!

August 21, 2017

Written by: Derrian Mulligan

Have you considered foraging your own mushrooms, but worry about the choosing a poisonous look-alike? Why not grow them in your own back yard instead?

Growing mushrooms is a cost-effective and rewarding way of creating a reliable food source with very little effort. Although you can buy everything you need in a kit online, the only really tricky thing to get is the mushroom spawn. It is most often sold in the form of inoculated saw dust, since the mushrooms will eat the saw dust as they grow. If you don’t want to spend money on components, consider making friends with someone who already grows mushrooms; they’ll have plenty of mycelium leftover from their last harvest.

cat garden giant

Image credit

Anyone who has looked into foraging mushrooms knows that there are many edible mushrooms in British Columbia alone. It may be difficult to know where to start. A commonly grown variety of mushroom is the King Stopharia (stropharia rugoannulata), or Garden Giant. Its name is fitting; these are very large mushrooms! They are also very delicious and can be cooked like any other mushroom you would find in the grocery store.

Besides the savings and the taste, another good reason to grow Garden Giants is to build the soil in your garden. Maybe your garden is lifeless — when you dig in, you don’t find any insects or worms. Maybe nothing is growing successfully and you’re not sure why. This may be due to toxins in the soil. It certainly can’t hurt to add some fungi: they fight diseases in the soil, produce anti-pathogens that protect your plants, cleanse the soil of contaminants, and provide their neighbours with nutrients that your soil may be lacking. This process is sometimes referred to as mycoremediation.


Image credit

If you want proof of fungal soil’s effectiveness, look to your nearest forest — and remember that most of a mushroom lives below ground, in the form of mycelium! Once your mushroom bag is done, you can save some of the mycelia for your next round of mushrooms and put the rest into your garden. It’s easy: you dig a hole, put it in with a bunch of wood chips, and bury it to create a mushroom bed. Then you plant vegetables on top of the mushroom bed and watch the micro-ecosystem thrive!

Below is a brief guide to making your own mushroom garden or, more specifically, a bunker bag.


  • Burlap sacks (free from your local coffee roaster)
  • Straw (free from Craigslist)
  • Wood chips (free from Craigslist)
  • Cardboard (free from your local grocery store; look for the plain corrugated kind)
  • Large buckets (free from Craigslist)
  • Half litre of Hydrogen peroxide
  • Dust mask or other face covering
  • Mushroom spawn


  1. Safety first: put on your mask to avoid inhaling debris.
  2. Pour hydrogen peroxide into a bucket half full of water. Put your wood chips and straw into separate burlap sacks, and soak them in the mixture for a while. Make sure you get the sacks in there, too! This sterilizes your materials to prevent unwanted fungi from taking over your bunker bag.
  3. Hose everything off once it’s been saturated by the solution so it doesn’t stop your Garden Giants from spawning. The solution has removed whatever fungi was already on there, so now you can wash it away.
  4. Next, you’re going to make a lot of burritos. That’s right, burritos! Tear your cardboard into long strips. Put your remaining materials into each strip of cardboard in equal parts: wood chips, straw, and spawn. Roll them up into burritos.
  5. Stack the burritos in your burlap sacks, stuffing straw and wood chips in between them. It’s okay if they slouch, as long as you can prop them up so that they don’t spill over.
  6. Find a spot outdoors where the bunker bags won’t be disturbed.
  7. In about two months, you’ll notice the burlap is turning white and falling apart. That’s because it has been inoculated with the spawn — the mushrooms are eating the sacks!
  8. In another four months or so, you’ll find your bag is exploding with mushrooms! The time will vary depending on a number of factors: the kind of wood chips you selected, where you’ve placed your bag, the temperature, and so on. Don’t be afraid to experiment! Below is an example of a bunker bag blooming with oyster mushrooms, another delicious local mushroom.


Image credit

One issue that may arise for you is mold. Be sure to know your molds and what to do if they contaminate your bunker bag — remember, fungi are powerful and sometimes dangerous medicines. The best defense against any health concerns associated with edible fungi is knowledge.

If you want to read more about mushrooms, consider referring to the work of renowned mycologist Paul Stamets. Although you can buy his books, they are also available in public libraries, and many who have experimented with his techniques have posted about them online. One of the benefits of creating variations of these tried-and-true techniques is that, provided you keep detailed records, you can share your new knowledge with other folks that may not have access to all of the same materials or conditions that are generally recommended. This allows much more people to produce their own food.

The final step in your mushroom cultivation is, of course, eating them! Here is a delicious vegan and gluten-free recipe in which you can use your Garden Giants, or any other local mushroom. The original recipe calls for stinging nettles, which you can buy at your local farmers market or forage (more on that in a forthcoming blog post), but we’ve substituted arugula. Arugula is another spicy, leafy green that is more accessible to many people living in cities than stinging nettles. However, just like with the materials and conditions of your bunker bags, feel free to experiment!

Green Mushroom Soup


  • 4 cups chopped arugula
  • 2 diced potatoes
  • 1.5 cups chopped Garden Giants
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 diced onion
  • 4 sliced garlic cloves
  • 1 litre of vegetable stock
  • Salt and pepper to taste


  1. Warm your olive oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Cook the onion and garlic until they become translucent. Add the mushrooms and potatoes.
  2. Continue cooking until the garlic starts to turn brown, then add a cup of stock and stir.
  3. Add the arugula. When it wilts, add the rest of the stock and bring to a boil.
  4. Lower the heat to a simmer, stirring occasionally for 30 minutes.
  5. Using an immersion or pitcher blender, blend until smooth. Serve hot either as an entree or side. Serves six.


10 Fun Food Events from our Friends

August 9, 2017

When your mission is to teach children, families, and the community about healthy food and healthy food systems. you make a lot of friends in the local food scene. We wanted to share some of our friends’ upcoming events! Here’s the inside scoop!


Image result for food on a calendar

Click for more info!

SUMMERDINE hosted by Les Dames d’Escoffier to support their Scholarship and Outreach programs.
Click for more info!

hosted by Liberty Merchant Company in support of the Greater Vancouver Food Bank Society.
Click for more info!

WILD SALMON CELEBRATION hosted by The Chefs’ Table Society of British Columbia and the BC Salmon Marketing Council.
Click for more info!


hosted by LifeSpace Gardens in support of Growing Chefs!, Project CHEF, and Sprouting Chefs.
Click for more info!

Click for more info!

FEAST OF FIELDS hosted by Farm Folk City Folk.
Click for more info!

CULINARY ICON GALA: BRUNO MARTI hosted by Les Dames d’Escoffier.
Click for more info!

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Click for more info!

COOKING CLASS hosted by Chef Russell Cameron and Cook Culture in support of Growing Chefs!
Click for more info!

14th – 15th
APPLE FESTIVAL hosted by Friends of the Garden in support of the UBC Botanical Garden.
Click for more info!

Eat your hearts out!

Our biggest year yet!

August 3, 2017

Summer has arrived! School’s out, and another year of our Classroom Gardening and Cooking Program has come to a close. 

This spring we were in 44 classrooms, across Vancouver, North Vancouver, Burnaby, Richmond, Surrey, Coquitlam, and Victoria. We worked with more than 1,400 students learning to plant, grow, and cook their own healthy food.

We were extra lucky this year to have Olivia Sari-Goerlach of OSG Photography joining us in one of our classrooms allowing us to share this insider’s peek at our lessons.

Lesson 1

Our chefs eagerly arrived at their first Growing Chefs! lesson to be greeted by excited students (and teachers!) who couldn’t wait to get their windowsill gardens set up. The chefs and students got to know one another by discussing what they knew about where their food comes from and the many different places and ways we can grow food.

After examining the seeds, students planted lettuce, beans, peas, arugula, radishes and beets in their very own classroom gardens! With seeds planted and our gardens lined up at the window, there was nothing to do but water and wait….

Lesson 2


Lesson 3

In our Vegetable Sharing Circle, students told us about a vegetable commonly used in their home and how they like to prepare and eat it with their families.


One student tried, and succeeded, to stump our chefs by bringing in a vegetable many of us had never seen or tried before! After revealing its name we got to learn all about the Japanese Mountain Yam, and even try a taste of this strange vegetable that gets very slimy as you prepare it.


Lesson 4

After learning about and getting to taste a wide variety of leafy greens the class read the book, How Are You Peeling: Foods With Moods by Saxton Freymann and had the chance to create their own vegetable characters to express their emotions.


Lesson 5

This week was all about vitamins and the health benefits of vegetables! The chefs demonstrated how to make a tasty salad dressing and taught students how to follow a recipe.


Students then harvested greens from their garden to make their very own vitamin-packed healthy salad.

Lesson 6

The lesson we had all been waiting for – our big cooking lesson!  Students learned how to properly, and safely, chop their own vegetables and then put all their new found skills to the test. Harvesting their gardens, preparing their ingredients, and cooking a delicious and nutritious meal to share with their classmates, teachers, and parents!


Lesson 7

After reviewing what we learned over the past 3 months, students lined up to be congratulated by the chefs and receive their certificates for becoming a Growing Chef! and planted a seed for their gardens at home.


A huge thank you to all the volunteers, teachers, and amazing supporters we have had this year! We couldn’t do it without you!

If teaching kids how to plant and cook their own veggies looks like something you’d like to take part in, be sure to check out our website for information on volunteering.  If you’d like to help us continue to reach even more schools and kids, head over to our donation page to show your support. Don’t forget to follow us on our social media pages listed below for even more updates from the classroom!

-Amanda Adams
Growing Chefs! Program Manager

A Growing Team at Growing Chefs! Introducing Derrian Mulligan

July 21, 2017

Hi, my name is Derrian, and I’m the newest addition to the Growing Chefs! team. I’m joining the team as a Program Assistant for this summer, working with Selma van Halder and Amanda Adams to prepare for this year’s fall edition of the program. If you’re interested in taking part in Growing Chefs! you can find out more here. I’m part of this amazing charity because I am passionate about food security, self-sufficiency, and the power of food to bring communities together. I am very grateful to be part of this dedicated team!


I grew up on a farm on traditional nēhiyaw (Cree) territory, also known as northern Alberta. My family and I grew and made most of what we used, from food to clothing to cleaning products. We had a large garden where we grew a variety of vegetables and raised chickens, turkeys, and even some steers (castrated bulls grown for their meat). When my siblings and I were bored, you could find us climbing maple trees, falling into stinging nettles (which are delicious, by the way), stealing carrots from the garden, or following horse and deer paths through the bush with our Australian Kelpie, Coca.

With most of our 320 acres uncleared, my parents taught us the value not only of clearing and planting the land, but of the abundant and varied foods of the Boreal forest. We would drive out to the edge of our fields and collect ice cream buckets of saskatoons, blueberries, strawberries, and raspberries. Those berries that we didn’t eat on the ride back to the house were made into preserves and canned in a marathon afternoon of overflowing colanders, gallons of boiling water, and pounds upon pounds of sugar.


My mom also taught me about using essential oils, baking soda, and vinegar to clean just about anything, something I continue to learn about and apply today. She made excellent white bread using only yeast, bread flour, salt, and water, a skill that I now teach to others through the Cedar Cottage Food Network. When I would get too hyper and it was too cold to leave the house without risking frostbite, she would give me a jar of whipping cream and I would shake it to make delicious unsalted butter. One of my favorite treats was butter sandwiches, made with mom’s bread. I would sometimes add clover honey from the beehives on our property.

My dad has been a journeyman baker for over thirty years, and used to make our birthday cakes every year to our exact specifications: covered in Smarties? No problem! When he was home after school, he would pull homemade brownies and chocolate chip cookies out of the oven just as we came in the door — one batch with walnuts, and one without, just for me. I’ve since learned to love walnuts and I frequently bake with them.


As a youth, I moved to unceded shishá7lh (Shishalh) territory before moving to the unceded territory of the xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), səl̓ílwətaʔɬ (Tsleil-Waututh), ˈskwɔːmɪʃ (Squamish), and Stó:lô peoples as an adult. Moving to a new ecosystem, as well as addressing my settler privilege as a person who strongly identifies as Irish, was a struggle as I stumbled through early adulthood. Since this is a lifelong challenge, I am always seeking out new ways of interrogating my presence on this unceded territory; for example, I took up permaculture, which is based on traditional Indigenous knowledge, and I plan to take part in the Wild Salmon Caravan this autumn.

I have returned to many of the practices that I grew up with on the farm, like foraging and gardening. I have connected to this new land by taking up farmsitting and hiking, as well as learning to identify animals, plants, fungi, and minerals. I’ve learned some new skills, too. Most recently, I have taken up growing King Stropharia mushrooms, carving, and hide tanning. Although I don’t eat meat, I am passionate about learning to use what others may see as waste products, whether it be hides, feathers, teeth, or bones. This practice better connects me to the cycle of life, as well as the animals from which these parts have come.


My dream is to one day start an animal sanctuary and food forest, complete with honeybees and chickens. A food forest is a form of traditional Indigenous knowledge, and the original vertical garden. It allows more calories per square foot than conventional farming does, enriches the soil, and provides food and shelter for the local fauna. One of my favorite things about permaculture is that it creates the conditions under which very little time, energy, and resources yield a great amount of product, which means that those who live off the land in this way have more time to enjoy the beauty of that land. If you are interested in these millenia-old ways of land stewardship, I encourage you to watch a documentary called Tending the Wild.

I believe that food and land are powerful tools for connecting communities and passing on knowledge, which is why I also want to run a free school in which folks can access the food forest and those forms of knowledge I have been learning. Until then, I’ve been focusing on satisfying my drive to educate people and bring them together in a hands-on way. Growing Chefs! was an obvious avenue for me to do this while I prepare for the big move out of the city.

If you’re not already part of the Growing Chefs! team, I highly recommend joining us! The time commitment is small compared to what you’re giving back to your community. Sign up today!

Donor Profile: The Root Cellar

July 12, 2017

owners with veg & irrigation in field

We at Growing Chefs! are so very lucky to have the support from local businesses to bring our Classroom Gardening & Cooking Programs to life across British Columbia. In Victoria, we were in 5 classrooms this spring.

The Root Cellar donated nearly $1,000 in produce to make the program possible! Let’s learn a little more about them!


Tell us a little bit about yourself and your company?

The Root Cellar was born 9 years ago out of a passion for local, fresh, quality food, a love for community and a focus on improving food sustainability on Vancouver Island. Owned by Adam & Daisy Orser, and Phil Lafreniere, the Root Cellar is a family owned business employing over 90 people and buying from over 250 Island and BC Growers, Makers and Shakers. We have a strong emphasis on produce and are proud to offer Vancouver Island’s largest selection of local, conventional and organic produce, however, we also have a full-service butcher & deli, grocery, bread & dairy departments all operating with the same local focus. We are complimented by our ‘Potting Shed’, our ffloral department and garden center.

Why did you choose to support Growing Chefs?

Anyone who shares our focus on driving appreciation back to meal time, the food we eat and the creation of community around the dinner table is a friend of ours. We will all be grandparents one day, and would like to enjoy the food the next generation prepares for us at family mealtime!

Why is local sustainable food important to you?

A passion for food needs to carry on to the next generation in order to sustain our food systems. We need kids who want to be chefs, farmers, and food-focused entrepreneurs. Both awareness and appreciation for food sustainability can only grow – we need people behind this movement to carry it forward and MAKE it our future – the next generation has to be bought in and on board and driving this train.

Why do you think it’s important for kids to learn about growing and cooking their own food?

North Americans spend upward of 900 hours a year shopping (or growing!), cooking and eating their food. This time represents a HUGE portion of our lives and can and should be time looked forward to!

Sustainable Business Practices - The Root Cellar - LOGO

THANK YOU so much to The Root Cellar for your generous donations of produce for our Victoria Classroom Gardening & Cooking Program! Have a wonderful summer.

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