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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

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SUMMERDINE hosted by Les Dames d’Escoffier to support their Scholarship and Outreach programs.
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hosted by Liberty Merchant Company in support of the Greater Vancouver Food Bank Society.
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WILD SALMON CELEBRATION hosted by The Chefs’ Table Society of British Columbia and the BC Salmon Marketing Council.
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hosted by LifeSpace Gardens in support of Growing Chefs!, Project CHEF, and Sprouting Chefs.
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FEAST OF FIELDS hosted by Farm Folk City Folk.
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CULINARY ICON GALA: BRUNO MARTI hosted by Les Dames d’Escoffier.
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COOKING CLASS hosted by Chef Russell Cameron and Cook Culture in support of Growing Chefs!
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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.

Student Recipes from Lesson 3!

May 16, 2017

In Lesson 3 we start to talk about the connections between culture and food by sharing foods students eat at home through our Vegetable Sharing Circle.

Each student brings in a vegetable from home to share with the class and they are also encouraged to bring a recipe for a dish they commonly eat at home using that vegetable so we can create a classroom recipe booklet.

Here are three great recipes from grade 3 students at Champlain Heights they’d love to share with you!

Potato Nachos:

Total time: 55min
Prep: 15min
Level: Easy
Serves: 6


  • 3 large russet potatoes
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • kosher salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup Greek yogurt
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 2Tbsp chopped fresh parsley
  • pinch of crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 cup crumbled feta
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh dill
  • 1/2 cup Kalamata olives, coursely chopped
  • 1/2 cup chopped cucumber
  • 1/2 cup halved cherry tomatoes


  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Cut potatoes into wedges and place on baking sheet, drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with garlic powder and oregano.
  3. Season with salt and pepper and toss until fully coated.
  4. Arrange wedges in a single layer, skin side down, and bake until deeply golden and crispy, ~38-40min.
  5. To make dip: In a small bowl, combine Greek yogurt, lemon juice, 1 Tbsp parsley, and red pepper flakes.
  6. Top baked potato wedges with feta, tomatoes, dill, remaining parsley, olives, and cucumber.


Alexander’s Borsht:



  • 1/4 of cabbage head (shredded)
  • 3 medium sized beets
  • 2 carrots (grated)
  • 2 large potatoes (chopped)
  • 1 large onion (chopped)
  • 2 large tomatoes (cubed)
  • small piece of celery root
  • 1 celery stick
  • 3 Tbsp of tomato paste
  • 1 sweet pepper (chopped)
  • 4L vegetable or meat broth
  • 1 bunch dill
  • 1 crushed clove of garlic
  • 1 bunch Italian parsley


  1. In a large saucepan, saute the onion until it becomes light golden.
  2. Add carrots, beets, sweet pepper, and tomato paste and continue cooking on medium heat until dense (about 10 min).
  3. While it is cooking, bring a large pot of 4L of water to boil.
  4. Add potatoes, shredded cabbage, and celery root to the pot. Cook for 10min.
  5. Add vegetables from the saucepan, and tomatoes to the pot and stir.
  6. Continue cooking on low heat for 7-10min.
  7. Add garlic, chopped parsley, dill, and salt to taste.
  8. Enjoy!


Homemade Yam Fries

Yam Fries


  • Yam
  • Olive Oil
  • Salt & Pepper
  • Parsley (optional)


  1. Wash and cut yams into stripes (fry cut).
  2. Microwave for 5 min.
  3. Layer on a baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil.
  4. Add salt & pepper.
  5. Bake in the oven for 30min at 400 degrees.
  6. Serve hot and enjoy!




THANK YOU Volunteers!

April 28, 2017

This week is National Volunteer Week and with our classroom program in full swing what a great time to take stock and acknowledge our amazing team of skilled volunteers. THANK YOU to our amazing volunteers. You are the ones who bring our classroom gardening and cooking programs to life!

THANK YOU to our amazing volunteers! You are the ones who bring our classroom gardening and cooking programs to life.

While our chef volunteers are always at the heart of our program, over the years we have had nutritionists, farmers, gardeners, students, educators, photographers, carpenters, bankers, parents, office administrators, and numerous other volunteers from all sorts of backgrounds who have all come together out of their shared passion for healthy eating and local, sustainable agriculture.

We are privileged to be part of a fantastic community that connects so many incredible individuals, businesses, and organizations who never stop amazing us with their passion and dedication.

We wouldn’t be where we are today without the dedication of our volunteers. This year we have over 150 volunteers working in the classroom across the lower mainland and in Victoria to teach over 1,500 kids about healthy food and food systems. , we also have volunteers helping us in the office, participating in outreach activities, advocating for our programs, assisting with raising much-needed funding to support our programs, and sharing their knowledge, passion, and skills to help us.

But wait, there’s more! We also have a volunteer Board of Directors, volunteers helping us in the office, participating in outreach activities, advocating for our programs, assisting with raising much-needed funding to support our programs, and sharing their knowledge, passion, and skills to help us. Plus, many of our volunteers also donate to Growing Chefs! Amazing.

The gift a volunteer gives to an organization is priceless! We are so grateful to those who choose to volunteer with Growing Chefs! THANK YOU a thousand times over!

“Volunteers do not necessarily have the time; they just have the heart.”
— Elizabeth Andrew

Donor Feature: Kin’s Farm Market

March 31, 2017

KFM Logo - Green

This spring, seven Metro Vancouver classrooms have been adopted* by local groups & businesses. A grade one classroom at Mount Pleasant Elementary School is going to receive the Growing Chefs! Classroom Gardening & Cooking Program thanks to a new supporter, Kin’s Farm Market.

We caught up with Kirsten Woloski on their marketing team to learn a little more about this generous BC business.

Hi Kirsten! What is your role at Kin’s Farm Market?

I am a Marketing Associate at Kin’s Farm Market; I started in May of 2016. I enjoy my job because I have such a wide variety of tasks and freedom to think outside of the box.

Tell us a little about Kin’s Farm Market.

Kin’s Farm Market started as an 8-foot table stand on Granville Island in Vancouver, BC. Soon after, we became one of the busiest stands in the island. This helped in pushing us to open our first store at Blundell Centre in Richmond. Fast-forward to 2017, we have expanded into communities throughout the Lower Mainland with 28 stores. We are proud to be celebrating our 30 year anniversary this year!

Why do you think a program like Growing Chefs! is important in a community like Vancouver & BC’s Lower Mainland?

It’s a great opportunity for children to learn about plants, vegetables and the basics of cooking. With all the community gardens and initiatives to grow and eat local in the Lower Mainland, children can learn the basics and take it home to explore further.

Why did Kin’s Farm Market choose to support Growing Chefs?

Kin’s chose to support Growing Chefs! because of our commitment to the community as well as our advocacy for healthy eating. We believe that growing and cooking food is an excellent life skill, for young children, and also encourages them to eat healthy choices.

Thank you so much to Kin’s Farm Market for your commitment to Growing Chefs! We can’t wait to welcome you to your classroom for a visit later this spring.


* For more information about our Adopt-A-Classroom program, please email Jaydeen Williams, Development & Communications Director.

Tips for your Bee Friendly Garden

March 21, 2017


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:

  1. Use a variety of plants that will provide pollen and nectar at different times of the year.
  2. Choose single flower varieties where ever possible (ask you garden centre assistant for help if you have trouble finding them).
  3. Make it easy for the bees and place plants of the same variety close together.
  4. 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.Bee Friendly

To make your gorgeous pollinator garden visit 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!

PlantSomethingBC on Facebook
PlantSomethingBC on Twitter
PlantSomethingBC on Instagram
PlantSomethingBC on YouTube

Growing Chefs! From a Parent’s Perspective

March 7, 2017

Lindsey Boyle, gardening with her son Oliver

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: 

Connecting Families in the Garden

February 10, 2017

downloadYear after year, Growing Chefs! receives support from West Coast Seeds in the form of untreated, non-gmo seeds for organic growing in our Classroom Gardening and Cooking Program.

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.”


Mark Macdonald, West Coast Seeds

Thanks again Mark, and thank you West Coast Seeds. Happy Family Day long weekend everyone!

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