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Fred UnLEEshed: Sept. 19, 2017
Fred Lee highlights Fresh Roots, the Pacific Autism Network and Chinatown BBQ

Fred Lee / Vancouver Courier
SEPTEMBER 19, 2017 06:00 AM

FARM TO SCHOOL: Combining urban agriculture, local food and education, Fresh Roots is an innovative program seeded by three friends who have a passion for gardening. In 2009, Gray Oron, Ilana Labow and Marc Schutzbank wondered how much food they could grow for their friends and East Vancouver neighbours. A lot, it turns out. Their backyard experiment was soon full of vegetables, and Fresh Roots was founded. Soon, more gardens sprouted. One shared a fence with a local elementary school garden that had grown into disrepair. The principal asked the three friends if they might be able to help. They would eventually transform the grounds into an edible schoolyard and educational farm enabling hands-on lessons on farming, food and nutrition. Today, the educational farms are located in three school districts — Vancouver, Delta and Coquitlam — with more than 5,000 students visiting Fresh Roots fields annually. The produce grown is sold to school cafeterias, restaurants and local families. In the summer, Fresh Roots employs high school students to garden and sell the food at farmers’ markets. Fresh Roots, which recently earned charitable status, hosted its Schoolyard Harvest Fundraising Dinner at David Thompson high school to raise awareness and support for the school market gardens. David Thompson is home to one of the educational gardens.

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