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Giving Now Means Giving More!

November 28, 2016

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 ChefsGiving Now Means Giving More! Local businesses Eight SolutionsLyra 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!

eight-solutions-logo                    pan-american-silver-logolyra-growth-partners-logo

For more information, or to make a matching commitment from your business: Jaydeen Williams, Acting Executive Director, or 604-710-1677

BC Place photo credit:

Growing and Cooking Vegetables in the Classroom

November 23, 2016

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.

15127356_10155470556903135_665860177_oMany 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!

-Amanda Adams
Program Coordinator

Darren Stott: Volunteer, monthly donor, food enthusiast, and superstar!

November 15, 2016

Darren (left) and his kids visiting Parsons Farm (founded in 1908 in Keremeos). Also featured is 4th generation farmer Quentin Parsons.

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.

Thank you Darren for your ongoing support! We’re so grateful for community members like YOU!

5 Food Documentaries to Check Out this #WorldFoodDay

October 14, 2016

Sunday, October 16 is World Food Day, a day of action against hunger on a global scale. It celebrates the founding of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), whose core mission is achieving global food security. World Food Day is a day where people around the world come together to declare their commitment to eradicate hunger in our lifetime.

Growing Chefs!‘s vision is a world with healthy, sustainable food practices and our Classroom Gardening and Cooking Programs are designed to teach children and their families about these practices. We stand with many other organizations working tirelessly to do the same, at all parts of the food cycle, and we believe that every day should be World Food Day, as no one should have to go hungry.

This year’s theme is Climate is changing. Food and agriculture must too,” focusing on the impact of a changing environment on food security.

14647395_10155340626073135_1063538012_oFarmers are already dealing with climate change-related challenges, such as higher temperatures, changing rainfall patterns, shifting growing seasons, and extreme weather events. Agriculture is at the center of climate change-related issues; being the most impacted by climate change while at the same time being a major contributor to greenhouse gas emissions. However, this means food production can also play a major role in reducing the effects of climate change and as such we are already seeing a shift in farming practices and consumer sourcing.

We can all do our part – growing our own gardens, sourcing from local, sustainable farms, and making informed food choices.

To recognize #WorldFoodDay, and to inspire you to think more about where our food comes from, we have put together this list of a few food documentaries to check out this weekend.

  1. Food, Inc.


Who it’s for: Those that really want an inside look at food production in the US.
About:  An Academy Award-nominated American documentary film that examines corporate farming in the United States. Its focus is on the environmental, social, economic, and health impacts of agribusiness. While jarring at times, the film does offer a surprisingly hopeful message: Making informed food purchases really does matter.

Note: Sequences of this film do show industrial animal farms and practices that may be disturbing to some viewers and may not be suitable for small children.

  1. A Place at the Table


Who it’s for: Those interested in food security issues.

About: Not just talking to experts about food security, this film goes to the source visiting different “food desert” communities, such as the urban streets of Philadelphia and a rural town in Colorado. The filmmakers talk directly with the families there who live on extremely limited incomes with poor access to food. Not only focusing on the issues, this film also highlights local food heroes and many inspiring individuals who are working to help.

  1. More Than Honey


Who it’s for: Anyone interested in the fascinating networks and impacts of bees.

About: We’d be remiss not to include a film about the impact of bees on food production. The bees are disappearing, and if they go the impacts on our world food supply would be huge. The cinematography in this film is simply stunning as the filmmakers draw you into the intimate world of the bees while describing the plight they face.

4. Ingredients: The Local Food Movement Takes Root


Who it’s for: Those with an interest in the growing local food movement.

About:  Growers, restaurateurs, and consumers across the United States share their insights and methods for growing the local food movement.  If you love thought leaders of the locavore movement like Alice Waters and Peter Hoffman you will enjoy this film as they discuss their experience with local food while drawing attention to the dangers of America’s industrialized food system. A beautiful film about how we can bring our food production back home.

  1. Just Eat It


Who it’s for: Anyone interested in food waste issues and solutions.

About: An award-winning, B.C. produced film that emerged after the producers discovered that while one in ten people in North America go hungry, collectively we are throwing out nearly 50% of our food. Expiry dates, perfect produce, portion sizes, Just Eat It brings together farmers, organizations, and consumers to reveal the issue of food waste and its sources while examining its devastating consequences around the globe.


-Amanda Adams
Growing Chefs! Program Coordinator

From Farms To Forks 7

October 14, 2016

On Sunday, October 2nd we held our annual Harvest Kitchen Party, From Farms to Forks 7! We were once again joined by an amazing group of local chefs, growers, and vineyards to welcome 150 guests to the Pacific Institute of Culinary Arts to enjoy great food and drink and help raise funds for Growing Chefs!

We invite you to relive the evening with us thanks to our wonderful photographers Olivia Sari-Goerlach of OSG Photography and partner Ben Goerlach. Additional photos provided by  Michelle Sproule of Scout Magazine.

Our guests were welcomed to the party with sparkling wine and canapés including Turmeric Panisse by chef Alessandra Quaglia of Provence Marinaside and Covert Farms, as well as Pulled Jackfruit Steamed Buns by chef Rob Clark from the anticipated soon-to-be-opened restaurant, The Arbor by The Acorn, made with fresh vegetables from Klippers Organics.

Our friends, chef Morgan & chef Edison, from Pier 73 offered an incredible ice block Ploughman’s Table full of pickled & preserved vegetables from Hazelmere Organics, smoked Golden Ears Cheese Crafters cheeses, seafood ceviche, jerky, and foie gras with quince jam thanks to Gelderman Farms.

Mixologist Dylan Williams of Bambudda and Ms. Better’s Bitters created an impressive Scarlet Sour cocktail with concord grape puree from Stoney Paradise Farms and Sin Gin from Gillespie’s Fine Spirits.


Emcees Fred Lee & Margaret Gallahger joined us again this year in welcoming our guests, leading the nights events, and introducing our Growing Chefs! Charles Dickens Elementary school students who shared their love of participating in our Classroom Gardening & Cooking program. The speeches portion of the evening also included Growing Chefs! founder, Merri Schwartz, who shared another amazing thank you poem dedicated to everyone that helped make our night a huge success. Pacific Institute of Culinary Arts’ Executive Chef & Program Director, Julian Bond, announced the doors were open and everyone could be released into the kitchens!

ARC Restaurant‘s chef Karan Suri dished a spicy vegetarian Ras El Hanout Roasted Cauliflower with sweet parsnip hummus with the help of Hannah Brook Farm.

Andrea Carlson, Chef & Owner of Burdock & Co. served amazing Braised Oxtail Stuffed Walla Walla Onions with ingredients from Klippers Organics and Two Rivers Specialty Meats.

The incredible chef Stewart Boyles & team from Culinary Capers Catering made Braised Lamb Shoulder with carrot purée from Helmer’s Organic Farm produce.

Tableau Bar Bistro was paired with Stoney Paradise Farm and chef Jennifer Belbeck and team created for guests a Country Duck Pȃté with delicious sungold tomato jam.

Chef Gilles L’Heureux of Los Cuervos Taqueria & Cantina created a wonderful new favourite this year of Choripapa Taco using Helix Farm potatoes. Looks like he got some help in the kitchen from an extra special chef!

Homer St. Cafe and Bar‘s chef Chris West brought us a rare Smoked Lamb Sirloin with tomato jam paired with vegetables from Foxglove Farms.

Chef Jesse McCleery and his team from pilgrimme and Galiano Sunshine Farm made a unique and delicious Roasted Squash with onion, pear, & beef heart.

The Observatory chef Brendan Robson made a beautiful Smoked Sturgeon with black garlic dashi and pickled Glorious Organics vegetables.

Guests were offered an assortment of amazing desserts including Ginger Cake  with sungold tomato sorbet & vanilla ice cream by Chef Rhonda Viani of West made with produce from Mighty Pitchfork. Pastry chef Wendy Boys baked Classic Apple Pie with aurora golden gala caramel & vanilla chantilly using apples from Parsons Farm MarketBella Gelateria arrived with their gelato cart offering three different hand-crafted gelato and sorbet flavours including a Seasonal Berry Vegan Sorbet thanks to Krause Berry Farm. All desserts were paired perfectly with fortified and ice wines and delicious teas from Namasthé.

The end of the night guests were served fine cheeses provided by Natural Pastures Cheese Company with Terra Breads Pecan Fruit Crisps, Houweling’s tomatoes and fresh Stoney Paradise Farms grapes.

Our guests were gifted decadent East Van Roasters cacoa nib toffee to take home.

Wine pairings were generously provided by Constellation Canada, and included:
Black Sage Vineyard Pipe
Inniskillin Cabernet Sauvignon
Inniskillin Discovery Series Chenin Blanc
Inniskillin Reisling Icewine
Jackson Triggs  Reserve Shiraz
Jackson Triggs Grand Reserve Chardonnay
Sumac Ridge Pinot Noir
See Ya Later Ranch Pinot Noir
See Ya Later Ranch Riesling
See Ya Later Ranch Rover Shiraz

Beer was kindly provided by Moody Ales

The Pacific Institute of Culinary Arts were once again wonderful hosts and we are always grateful for the amazing venue space. Our teams of chefs, restaurants, growers, volunteers, sponsors, media, emcees, producers, silent auction donors, and of course all of our guests, are what make From Farms to Forks the fabulous fundraiser it is. An extra special thank you to our sponsors Whole FoodsPedersen’s, ArtonaScout Magazine, Edible Vancouver Magazine and Daily Hive.

We want to thank everyone who helped us make the evening a success. With your generous support, we raised over $20,000 in funds for our Classroom Gardening and Cooking Program. This means we are able to give hundreds of B.C. kids hands-on experience growing and cooking their own healthy, nutritious food in the upcoming year.

We hope you enjoyed the night as much as we did and we look forward to seeing you next year!

View the full From Farms to Forks 7 Flickr photo album here.

From Farms To Forks 7 thank you!

October 4, 2016

Photo credit: OSG Photography

WOW! What an incredible night of canapés and cocktails, of wining and dining, and great fun for a great cause! We hope you 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 huge success!

*Stay tuned for our photo essay to relive the night’s culinary adventures.

It’s our seventh gala, it’s our seventh poem,
We’ve stood here at PICA so long it’s our home.
So before I begin to thank every and each,
A quick round of applause for our hosts, I beseech.

Year in and year out, Chef Darren, Chef Julian,
Are here to ensure that the stews are a stewin’,
Their students are helpin’, their pots are a-boil,
So thanks above all for your help and your toil.

And what can I say, about our chef superstars?
We’re honoured to have you at an event such as ours.
You come out each year, to help with our vision,
And execute each dish with skill and precision.

But before chefs can work, someone grows all that food!
Our growers, our farmers, they all set the mood.
With their hands in the dirt and their hearts in the land,
This event is for them, it’s for them that we stand.

Speaking of stars, we must thank our emcees,
There are really no two as awesome as these.
So Fred and Margaret, you’ve got our acclaim,
You bring us to life, bring us fortune and fame.

Our sponsor, Whole Foods, you’ve done us a favour,
To help make this happen, food and wine soon to savour.
And speaking of wine, our thanks, Constellation,
You pairings are sure to be a sensation.

Our fabulous friends from team SVP,
Nick and all staff—Dara, Gina, Dempsey.
You come out in droves with support and with care,
It’s become that it wouldn’t be right weren’t you there.

Our Board of Directors, who are meeting and greeting,
You shape us and make us, the pot always sweetening.
And on that sweet note, Moody Ales, thanks for beer!
Your generous keg ensures our good cheer.

A new and fantastic photography team!
Olivia and Benjamin, your work is supreme.
And Justin, videographer, with us from JKD,
So folks look your best—you could end up on TV!

Gillespie’s Fine Spirits, for your gin we are grateful,
And Dylan, from Bambudda, in your hands oh so able.
From Natural Pastures our cheese, and from Terra our bread,
With you make sure each last mouth has been fed.

Artona, you’ve been here with us since day one,
You make sure the fabulous programs get done.
Fiona, designer, your talents are many,
For Pedersen’s, who provided the rentals a-plenty.

To Isabelle, “Namasthé” for your tea and your sodas,
You always supply delicious non-alcoholic quotas.
To Westjet for donating our sweet raffle prize,
Our media sponsors: Scout, Edible Vancouver, and Daily Hive.

Huge thanks to Paul, for your professional eye,
When things all work out, we’ll know that you’re why.
For our servers, and pourers of wine, and our kitchen,
Chris, Grace, and team it’s with you that we’re smitten.

To Ange and to David, l left you near last,
Without you here last year, it just wasn’t a blast.
Our students and dishwashers, you keep us together,
Thanks for your help, in fair or foul weather.

To the many whose gifts to our auction were donated,
You set the bar till the bids are abated.
I cannot wait till you meet Finn and Jade,
From Charles Dickens Elementary, these kids will AMAZE!

Thanks all for your patience, I’m nearly all done,
But I can’t let you go till I thank the last one.
Our staff—you’re amazing. Christina and Ryan,
Amanda—you pulled it off, you never stopped tryin’.

To Helen, for guidance, you came when we called,
You hands full with Nico, you still stayed involved.
Jaydeen, for your leadership, for stepping on up,
That’s it, that’s the last one! Now go fill your cup.

Merri Schwartz (Growing Chefs! founder)

End of Summer Recipe: Zucchini Leek Pancakes

September 9, 2016

IMG_0246Zucchini Leek Pancakes

By Isabel Trzcinski

I love growing zucchini in my garden. It grows so well and is abundant. I also love that these pancakes are dairy free and easy to make. They contain 4 main ingredients: zucchini, leek, eggs and flour. I have added other ingredients to the recipe to add flavour!

2 medium zucchini
1-2 to 3/4 of a leek (or 1 1/2 cup green onion)
4 eggs
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
2 garlic cloves
2 tbsp dill
Pinch of cayenne powder
Salt and pepper
1 tbsp turmeric powder (optional)
Coconut or oil of choice for frying


  1. Grate the zucchini (I like to cut it and put it in the food processor using the grater blade) and put the grated zucchini in a large bowl. Add at least 2 tbsp of salt. This will pull the water out of the zucchini. (When the salt is squeezed out the pancakes are less wet). Leave the zucchini and salt to sit for about 20 minutes so the water is drawn out.
  2. While waiting for the water to draw out of the zucchini, finely chop the leek or green onion.
  3. After 20 minutes, use your hands to squeeze the water out of the grated zucchini. Do this in little handfuls at a time.
  4. When you have drained all of the zucchini, add it back to the large bowl and add the eggs, flour, and the rest of the spices. Mix well.
  5. Heat up a large frying pan to medium heat. Once hot, add spoonfuls of the batter at a time. Flatten out to about 1 cm thickness. Fry about  3 minutes on each side, or until golden brown.
  6. Enjoy with dairy free or regular Parmesan cheese or tzatiki, or by themselves.


Back to School: Food Miles & Fundraising

September 6, 2016

Photo credit: OSG Photography

Back to School means Growing Chefs! is heading back into the classroom! This fall we are sending more of our amazing chef volunteer teams into grade 4-6 classrooms to deliver our Intermediate Cooking & Gardening Program.

One of our favourite Intermediate activities is around Food Miles; the distance that food travels from where it is grown to where it is ultimately purchased/consumed. The more food miles, the less sustainable and the less environmentally desirable that food is.

We try to encourage kids in our classrooms to think about where their food comes from, and hope they encourage their families to do the same. To help you make some local choices this September, we have partnered up with Two Rivers Specialty Meats and SPUD.

Two Rivers Specialty Meats – Click and order. Pick it up from their North Vancouver location on October 13 or 14 and 15% of your order will be donated to Growing Chefs!

SPUDClick and create an account. Order from the selection of produce boxes (we suggest the local box). It can be delivered to your home or office and 25% of your produce box order will be donated to Growing Chefs!

THANK YOU! Happy back to school!



Summer Recipes: Cheezy Vegan Kale Chips

August 19, 2016

IMG_0136Cheezy Vegan Kale Chips

By Isabel Trzcinski

This recipe came about after planting way too much kale in my garden. I was putting kale into my smoothies, salads, stir frys and more. I had so much kale I didn’t know what to do with it. So I decided to try making kale chips for the first time. Now I wasn’t going to be satisfied with just any kale chips. I wanted to make them taste delicious, indulgent, and cheezy! This recipe meets all of those standards, and is truly a crowd pleaser.

1 large bunch of kale
1 cup cashews soaked for several hours
½ cup nutritional yeast
½ of a lemon juiced
3-4 tbsp soy sauce
1 clove garlic


  1. Set your oven on the lowest setting (180 degrees) or use a dehydrator.
  2. Wash and cut the kale into chip size pieces. Dry in a salad spinner (easiest way).
  3. In a blender, blend the cashews (drained after soaking), nutritional yeast, lemon juice, soy sauce, and garlic until smooth. (I don’t use any water but if your blender is not very powerful you may need a few tablespoons of water to get it going).
  4. Put the kale in a big bowl and pour the cheeze mixture over top. Mix until all of the kale is covered.
  5. Line the oven pan with parchment paper, and layer the kale on it so that it is not overlapping.
  6. Dehydrate for about 4 hours, until crispy. Kale chips can be stored in a large ziplock bag for a week or more.
  7. Enjoy your delicious, healthy snack!


What a year! 2015/16 Program Recap

July 28, 2016

It’s summer and a perfect time to reflect on the incredible time we had this school year! If you missed our mid-program check-in in May we reported on the first half of our lessons in the classroom this spring.

Please join us now in reading our photo recap below to see what the students learned in lessons 4-7 and our volunteer appreciation farm party.

Lesson 4 began with introducing students to different varieties of leafy greens – spinach, watercress, mustard greens and more! The kids were very excited to taste all the different flavours, including some of the greens from their own gardens.

The class then read the book, How Are You Peeling: Foods With Moods by Saxton Freymann, which illustrates how vegetables can be used to express emotions. Students then had the chance to create their own vegetable characters to express their emotions and even our volunteers got in on the fun!

In Lesson 5, students learned all about the health benefits they gain when they eat vitamin-filled veggies!

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.

The lesson we had all been waiting for – our big cooking lesson!  Students first watched a chef demonstrate how to use a knife to chop vegetables, learning how to make their “claw” to ensure that no fingers would get hurt! Then each student got the chance to chop their own vegetables!DSCN0315
Some students harvested what they had grown in their gardens, while others shelled peas, shred spinach, broke broccoli, and set up for our in-class picnic.

After preparing all the ingredients, the class watched the chefs make a soup and helped make a stir fry.  Everyone then got to enjoy the food during their in-class picnic. Being able to harvest, prepare, and cook their own food was what the classes had been building up to all year, and it was a truly rewarding experience for all of the students, teachers, and chef volunteers!



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.


Thank you to all the teachers and schools who participated this year and especially to our amazing volunteers! If you’re interested in volunteering, find out more and sign up on our website today!

 The program was complete and it was time to celebrate another year of success. See below for photos from our volunteer appreciation party at Urban Digs Farm. Special thanks to the farm for hosting and serving up delicious sausages on the grill, to Namasthe Tea CompanyParallel 49 Brewing, and Bomber Brewing for donating our beverages for the event, to Luca Fogale for providing us with live music, and to the chefs from Pier 73 for judging our pie contest! And of course to all the teachers and volunteers who joined us at the event.

Thank you again to everyone for supporting us and being part of the Growing Chefs! community.
Help us create even more life-long healthy eaters. Please visit our website for ideas on how you can donate. By making a gift today, you can help us give even more students hands-on experience growing and eating healthy, sustainable food. We hope you have a wonderful summer!
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