We’re pretty thrilled over here at Growing Chefs! to have such fantastic friends. Included in this list is PlantSomethingBC, and they wrote this piece for us to share with you.
PlantSomethingBC was launched in 2016 through a partnership between BC Landscape and Nursery Association (BCLNA) and the BC Government to encourage British Columbians to buy local and start gardening. The campaign in 2017 has evolved and focuses on bee forage plants that add ‘awe’ to any garden. Through this initiative, PlantSomething Bee Friendly was created.
Bees around the world are losing habitat and this is having a direct impact on the wild, honey and bumble bee populations in our communities. Bees are responsible for pollinating up to 80% of plants, including plants that produce the fruit and vegetables that we eat every day. Without pollination, a third of the food that we eat wouldn’t exist and our meals would taste bland.
To keep our plates full and our taste buds happy we need to feed the bees. Many Garden Centres sell wildflower seed blends for pollinators but Bee Friendly plants are not limited to wildflowers. Nurseries around the BC grow gorgeous plants, shrubs, and trees that provide food for the bees all year long. These nurseries are typically family owned and operated and are invested in creating a positive environmental impact in their communities.
Tips for your Bee Friendly garden:
- Use a variety of plants that will provide pollen and nectar at different times of the year.
- Choose single flower varieties where ever possible (ask you garden centre assistant for help if you have trouble finding them).
- Make it easy for the bees and place plants of the same variety close together.
- Include a watering hole for bees to drink and cool off in.
The size of your garden doesn’t matter; even if it is in a container, bees do not discriminate. In fact, bees in the city are starving and would be happy to visit your apartment balcony’s container garden!
If you see a bee in your garden, take a picture, upload it to social media and tag it with #BCplants. Every photo that you post will enter you in to win a Wheelbarrow of Goodies.
To make your gorgeous pollinator garden visit http://plantsomethingbc.ca/bee-friendly-plants/ to find a list of plants that is frequently updated. Encourage your neighbours to do the same and add a level of competition between households and families. After all, we are doing it for the bees!
Lindsey Boyle holds multiple titles and wears many hats at Growing Chefs! – Volunteer. Committee Chair. Director. Donor. Advocate.
And Parent. After seeing the impact of Growing Chefs! on her son’s class, Lindsey was inspired to get more involved.
People like Lindsey help to make our work in the community possible. Thank you, Lindsey, for all that you do for us, and thank you for taking the time to share your Growing Chefs! experience.
We understand you have a son who participated in the Growing Chefs! Classroom Gardening & Cooking Program. What did he learn from that experience?
Yes, I do. He is 8 years old and his name is Oliver. He told me Growing Chefs! taught him “to grow and cook healthy, yummy things, like stir fry, soup, and salad”. He learned how to use a knife properly. And he said, “I also learned I love to cook.” The first year Oliver’s class was lucky enough to have Growing Chefs!, I attended most weeks, and by the end of it I was inspired to get involved directly and help more kids gain the life-changing experience that Oliver has had.
When you’re not sharing Growing Chefs! with the world, what do you do with your time?
I have a wonderful and very full life. My husband Steve and I have two boys, Oliver and his younger brother George, who is almost 5. We love to be active outdoors and spend a lot of time cross country skiing and biking. For my day job, I am a Partner for The Sound, an exploration (research), strategy, and innovation agency which takes me to many different cities and occasionally overseas to do qualitative research and understand people on behalf of our clients. It’s work that combines business, psychology, sociology, anthropology, and journalism. I love what I do.
You’re the chair of the Communications Committee. What can you share about this upcoming year’s plans/goals?
I’m excited about the year ahead for the Communications Committee because last year was a foundational year – we developed a Communications Strategy for the first time and now we will be focused on measuring progress against the objectives we set. We’ll also be focused on creating goals for increasing communications impact for Farms to Forks, our annual Gala in early October. We want more people to be aware of Farms to Forks – and encourage more to attend and sponsor this amazing event.
You already give so much of your time to Growing Chefs!, why is it important to you to donate as well?
As with any small charity, limited visibility into when grants will be received makes planning for the future very challenging. In order for Growing Chefs! to be able to rely on the funds coming in and plan how to expand their program, they need recurring revenue from ongoing, monthly donors to feel confident they will have the funds coming in to support long-term growth. It’s a top priority for me that the next generation have values around food that will make them want to support healthy food systems – and Growing Chefs! is one of the best ways I’ve seen to ensure that happens.
Join Lindsey and become a monthly donor today: www.growingchefs.ca/donate
We connected recently with their Communications Manager, Mark Macdonald, who shared a little about his role with West Coast Seeds, and some tips about gardening with children. Thank you Mark for your time, and thank you West Coast Seeds for your ongoing support!
Hi Mark, what do you do at West Coast Seeds?
“I do most of the writing and photography for the company – for the catalogue, seed packets, and website. I’ve been here for about eight years. In my garden, I focus on the sorts of things I like to eat, so I grow a lot of salad greens. Inevitably I grow too much of most crops, but it gives me an opportunity to share with my colleagues and neighbours.”
What is it about Growing Chefs! that inspires you to give each year?
“The early start it offers for young people to think about food. Food and gardening are intimately connected, and an understanding of one is bound to broaden the experience of the other. Both cooking and growing provide a superb outlet for creativity, but at the same time they are bound by methods and practicalities. Both food and gardening bring people together. Both involve the sharing of wisdom and building community. What better activities for young people could there be?”
What would you suggest for a kids’ first garden?
“For kids, every day is super long, and a summer can seem like a lifetime. I think there is good fun to be had by planting seeds that do amazing things quickly. Plants like sunflowers and pumpkins come to mind, because in two short months they can grow to a huge size. Also, crops that produce something tangible at the end of the season are great. Drying beans and winter squash are really gratifying to grow because you get to hang onto your accomplishment (before it goes in the pot).
But ultimately, it’s the crops that kids like to eat fresh from the garden that are the most rewarding. Snacking on fresh peas in the summer is something we can all relate to.”
Thanks again Mark, and thank you West Coast Seeds. Happy Family Day long weekend everyone!
Who better to advocate for Growing Chefs! than a current volunteer? Thank you so much to Jasmine for sharing her inspiring story below to encourage others to volunteer.
We are accepting applications now for our upcoming spring session of our Classroom Gardening & Cooking Program. It’s a minimal commitment at a one-time 4-hour volunteer orientation in February, and 4 hours a month March – June.
- Click here to watch a short video about volunteering for Growing Chefs!
- Click here for more information about volunteering for Growing Chefs!
- Click here to apply to be a Growing Chefs! volunteer.
“I got involved with Growing Chefs! two years ago because I wanted to contribute to my community and I love working with kids. I have been an avid gardener for years and have worked in the restaurant industry for a decade, so it was a great fit. The other volunteers I’ve had the pleasure of working with have been farmers, chefs, parents, and students. Every team member brings their own set of skills and knowledge to the classroom. I’ve been fortunate to share cooking skills and gardening knowledge with the other volunteer members of the teams I’ve worked with. The whole experience has worked out to be an inspiration for a career change, and a great networking opportunity for me as well, as I am now pursuing a degree in education.
Getting involved with Growing Chefs! is a really minimal time commitment for what everyone involved gets out of it, and the kids are just so excited for every lesson. Each session we have with them is a new adventure, from tasting odd-looking or unknown vegetables and sharing stories about where they come from, to discussions about urban green spaces. It’s amazing the questions some of the kids have come up with during the course of these lessons- I have learned so much through their curiosity.
There’s something really powerful about engaging with young students, and empowering them to contribute to food security in their own lives. Many of them don’t know where their food comes from or how it’s grown, much less how far it may be travelling to get to the kitchen table. We influence better consumer and eating habits by changing the way these students think about vegetables, and how easy, fun, and delicious it can be to grow, cook and eat them!
If you decide to join the Growing Chefs! community, you’ll be rewarded with knowing you’re positively impacting those students’ lives by imparting gardening, cooking, and nutrition knowledge, and you’ll gain a sense of adventure and curiosity inspired by every student in that classroom. Please consider making time for growing a few chefs in your community.”
If Jasmine’s story has inspired you to volunteer, apply today!
Another season, another addition to the team! My name is Selma van Halder and I’m proud to introduce myself to you as the newest team member at Growing Chefs! I have joined this week as Program Assistant, and will be working closely with Amanda Adams to make sure the classroom program runs smoothly this spring.
My food journey started when I was very little. I was born in the Netherlands. My mom propped me up on the side of the sink as soon as I could sit, and we would cook together. I graduated from stealing the Brussels sprouts straight out of the colander to wielding a knife in no time. My mother will be proud to tell you that when the time came for me to take swimming lessons at 4 years old, I made my own pre-pool dinners from scratch. Making these weekly omelettes were, to me, the best thing about having to go to the pool…
This seems to be a pattern in my life: I tend to think about food above all else. This is why, after two university degrees in Anthropology of Religion, and several years on the non-food related non-profit and NGO scene, I decided to finally dedicate my professional life to food.
Vancouver was calling, and I found my food home at the Pacific Institute of Culinary Arts (PICA). After their professional culinary arts program and a job as a teacher’s assistant, I left my PICA family for a job in the vibrant Vancouver restaurant industry. I’m thankful to have had the opportunity to work and train with some of the best chefs in Vancouver; I spent two years with Chef Chris Whittaker at forage and Timber restaurants. In my spare time I cook (duh), write, garden, sing, and I volunteer.
Volunteering with organisations that make my heart beat a little faster has been a staple in my life since my student days, so when Chef Chris posted a Growing Chefs! call for volunteers in our staff room at Forage I jumped at the chance. I’ve spent the past four years honing my craft and my kitchen vocabulary, only to tone the latter down for Tuesday mornings with Growing Chefs!, or Wednesday afternoons with Fresh Roots kids.
What could be better than teaching kids about food? There is nothing more empowering than an awareness of the products you are consuming, and nothing more precious than being able to go through the process of growing, harvesting, processing, and cooking your own food. And most of all, it’s so much fun! The kids love it, and the giant pile of hand drawn thank you cards at the end of the season gets me every time.
A true understanding of what it takes to transform a seed into something that not only sustains us but enables us to thrive is hard to find. Over the many decades of industrialization the chain has become too long, the disconnect between consumer and product is so great, that we’ve lost understanding of what is literally the most important thing in our lives: food. Kids in the western world are now, for the first time in human history, estimated by the World Health Organisation to live shorter lives than their parents due to diet related disease. Something needs to change and I want to do my part to fill the gap, to raise awareness and make the world a better place by doing what I do best: cook and teach.
In September of last year I decided to take the leap and quit my kitchen job to join Groundswell, Vancouver’s local social venture incubator, for their fifth cohort of budding social entrepreneurs. I have been working hard ever since to make my dream of owning and operating a kitchen literacy coaching and training business a reality. Groundswell is a community of like-minded individuals striving towards a new economy, one social venture at a time. They offer support and community to “unlikely entrepreneurs” and provide classes and a platform within an incubator structure.
My time at Groundswell has resulted in a new business: Fare Kitchen Literacy. It is my goal with this business to provide people with meaningful assistance in their journeys towards healthier, more sustainable food consumption. I do that by offering in-home kitchen literacy coaching and training for individuals or families. I’m also partnering with existing organisations within the thriving food scene that is Vancouver, to assist them in broadening their reach.
One of those exciting partnering conversations was with Amanda, here at Growing Chefs! in December of last year. While we were looking into the possibilities for a family based curriculum and discussing the options for connecting kids and parents with the joys of engaging with and preparing food together, she silently dropped the job description for Program Assistant in my mailbox.
And here I am: ready to dive into the behind-the-scenes side of the organisation that I’ve been in love with since I moved here. There could not have been a better step for me to take at this point in time, and I hope to get to know you all as we move into the growing season.
Have you registered as a volunteer for this session yet? Now is the time!
Click here for more information and to apply, and don’t hesitate to contact Amanda or I with any and all questions. See you in the classroom!
Happy New Year from all of us at Growing Chefs!
We hope you all had a wonderful Holiday Season, and that you are feeling relaxed, rejuvenated, and ready to make 2017 your best year yet! We know that many of you set goals and make resolutions that you hope to achieve for the year. We also know that many of these goals tend to revolve around health and wellness, and we want you to succeed! Below are 4 specific goals to help you on your way to a healthy and happy 2017!
1. Try One New Healthy Food Each Month
Have you been eyeing a certain vegetable in the supermarket, or are you curious about that new superfood you keep reading about? Does it look “weird” or scary to cook? Face your fears and give it a shot – you never know if you’ll discover something you love! This is also a great idea to do with your kids – the more new foods they try, the more open-minded they will be to all foods in the future, and it’s a great way to sneak more healthy foods into their diet!
2. Learn One New Healthy Recipe Each Month
This goal can go hand in hand with the previous one. Finding new delicious ways to cook new foods or longtime favourites, is a great way to ensure you keep incorporating healthy foods into your diet without getting bored. Make mental notes of a delicious dish you tried in a restaurant and try to recreate it at home, or scour the Internet for tons of healthy recipes! Getting your whole family involved will help your kids learn to cook, get them in touch with their food, and allow you to spend some quality time together.
3. Shop Locally and Seasonally
Make a conscious effort to eat locally and buy foods that are in season. Not only will you support the local economy, strengthen the community, and have less environmental impact, you will also nourish yourself with fresher, better tasting, and more nutritiously dense food. Buying foods that are in season is usually cheaper, too, if keeping an eye on your finances is another resolution of yours! To help you get started, head to your local farmers market or consult this list to see what’s in season in BC.
The BC Association of Farmers’ Market has an online tool to help find a market close to you!
4. Give Back
This year, pick one cause, charity, or organization that is meaningful to you and spend some time giving back to the community. Volunteering often only takes up a few hours of your week, but the benefits to both the community and yourself are endless. Volunteering helps us grow and creates awareness within ourselves; it helps strengthen relationships and creates new bonds with others; and, of course, it helps those that need it most. The boost in your happiness and mental well-being will no doubt bring a positive improvement in your health. For volunteering opportunities in BC, check out some of these websites: govolunteer, City of Vancouver, or Vancouver Coastal Health. Here at Growing Chefs!, we are always looking for volunteers; we are currently recruiting for our 2017 Classroom Gardening and Cooking Program starting this spring – if planting, growing, and cooking veggies with kids, and inspiring them to eat healthier, sounds like something you would enjoy, be sure to check out our volunteer page here!
On Giving Tuesday, Tuesday, November 29th, BC Place is going to be lit up green for Growing Chefs! When you see those lights, we hope you’re reminded of the hard work our volunteers put in to get kids excited about gardening, and cooking healthy food.
Giving Tuesday is a global day of giving back to charities, and at Growing Chefs, Giving Now Means Giving More! Local businesses Eight Solutions, Lyra Growth Partners, and Pan American Silver Corp have committed to matching the annual pledged donation amounts for all new Champion Radish Club monthly donors (up to a maximum determined by corporate #GivingTuesday donations).
Join our Champion Radish Club and keep our gardens growing! Your monthly gift will provide a consistent, reliable, and predictable source of funding. This sustainability allows us to plan ahead and implement our hands-on programs more efficiently. It also lowers administrative costs. Giving now means giving more!
- Your commitment of a monthly donation of $10 doubles from an annual gift of $120 to $240!
- Your commitment of a monthly donation of $25 doubles from an annual gift of $300 to $600!
- Your commitment of a monthly donation of $50 doubles from an annual gift of $600 to $1,200!
Why choose monthly giving?
- Your gift is easy, secure, and green—a monthly donation saves paper, postage, and energy!
- You ensure your gift has the greatest possible impact!
- You will get special updates from the classroom from our participating students!
- You get to be a Champion Radish. (A most delicious type of radish!)
Donation commitments can be made online using a credit card (via Canada Helps) between Tuesday, November 7, 2016 and Tuesday, November 29, 2016 to be eligible for matching.
Talk about your giving with #givingtuesdayca. Thank you so much to our Giving Tuesday partners!
For more information, or to make a matching commitment from your business: Jaydeen Williams, Acting Executive Director, firstname.lastname@example.org or 604-710-1677
BC Place photo credit: http://photokaz.com/
The final months of 2016 bring us to our second year of our fall program! From October to December, grade 4-6 classrooms at Charles Dickens Elementary, Lynn Valley Elementary, General Brock Elementary, Sir James Douglas Elementary, and Queen Mary Elementary are participating in our fall classroom gardening and cooking programs.
Many people are surprised that we are growing gardens at this time of year but there are definitely vegetables that you can grow indoors year-round, as our students are currently learning.
Beans, radishes, herbs, and lots and lots of fresh greens -kale, arugula, mescluns, lettuce – all do quite well in windowsill gardens.
Just look how much they have grown in 4 weeks!
Of course not everything can be grown all year round, which means the fall is the perfect time to talk about local food, seasonal eating, food miles, and food preservation methods. Our amazing volunteer teams brought in some great examples from their kitchens of foods they preserve. After, our students got to roll up their sleeves and give it a try themselves preparing their own pickled vegetables right in the classroom.
With only a few lessons left in our fall program, we are ramping up the kitchen skills as students are beginning to develop their very own recipes and will soon be putting those recipes to the test in our program end cook off!
We were able to recently connect with one of our amazing volunteers, and a member of our monthly donation Champion Radish Club, Darren Stott!
Tell us a little bit about yourself and how you got introduced to Growing Chefs!
When Growing Chefs! was just getting started the founder Merri contacted the company I worked for back then (SPUD) to talk about a partnership. I was very impressed with Merri and her vision and promised myself to volunteer when the timing was right. SPUD was a supporter of Growing Chefs! while I was there and when I left and had the time to volunteer during the day I jumped to the chance.
What made you decide to become a classroom volunteer with Growing Chefs!?
I fundamentally believe the more we as individuals appreciate our food the more we will look after our planet and our health. Growing up in the 70s and 80s food was treated as a commodity and children had a little experience cooking and gardening. I think has had a detrimental effect on our planet and health and only education can reverse this.
What made you choose to support Growing Chefs! as a Champion Radish monthly donor and how do you think your gift makes a difference?
I felt I had to put my money where my mouth was. It’s crazy that courses like Growing Chefs! aren’t part of the curriculum and until they are they need support from people like me and others.
Why do you think a program like Growing Chefs! is important in a community like Vancouver?
I keep imagining all these little Jamie Oliver’s graduating school and shopping at farmers’ markets, growing their gardens and voting in politicians who care about our farmland and environment.
Why do you think it’s important for kids to learn about growing and cooking their own food?
More than anything, it increases their appreciation of it and those that produce it.
What’s your favourite vegetable to grow, cook, and/or eat?
I planted my first jalapeno pepper plant this year and was surprised how many peppers it produced. My son and I had fun challenging each other to eat them raw! Otherwise they were amazing in a hummus salad wrap.
What’s the most unique food you’ve ever eaten?
I’ve not eaten yet, but was intrigued by seeing bark in the herbs and spices section of Famous Foods. If anyone has any recipes, please pass on.