A Recipe for a Happy Holiday


Local food-focused charities partner with chefs and local businesses to support edible education this holiday season

Growing Chefs and Fresh Roots Farms have written the recipe for a happy holiday

  • Start with two local food-focused charities (Growing Chefs and Fresh Roots)

  • Engage three talented local chefs (Chefs Robert Clark, Tasha Sawyer, TJ Conwi)

  • Add generous philanthropists (Willow Grove Foundation and more)

  • Throw in a boatload of sustainable seafood (Organic Ocean)

  • Mix with 345 spatulas and ladles (House of Knives)

  • Finish with a cup of creativity, a teaspoon of generosity, and a pinch of love.

Chef Tasha Sawyer
Photo Credit: Mavreen David Photography

LunchLAB is a collaborative project between two local charities, Growing Chefs and Fresh Roots. In LunchLAB, students learn to grow their own food, supplement that food from local farms, and with the support of their teacher and chef-in-residence, learn to cook for themselves and their peers. This week, hundreds of children will go home with one of their favourite LunchLAB dishes and a special gift to help them keep cooking at home.

“We are not able to be in schools right now and our LunchLAB chefs and team miss spending time with the LunchLAB students,” said Amanda Adams, Growing Chefs’ Program Director. “We wanted to let them know that we are thinking of them this holiday season. We can’t wait to be in the kitchen with them again.”

At Total Education High School, 45 students who regularly would be a part of our LunchLAB program are receiving a pasta meal kit with ingredients and instructions so they can practice their cooking skills at home by creating a nutritious meal for their family, all created by Chef Tasha Sawyer. Additionally, Chef TJ Conwi has bottled up the kids’ favourite salad dressing from the salad bar for 300 LunchLAB students at Lord Roberts Elementary School. They will also receive the recipe for this healthy dressing so they can teach their caregivers how to make it at home. All students will also receive a special gift from our friends at House of Knives to help them keep cooking.

Additionally, 80 local families in need will receive a generous gift of healthy, sustainable seafood (frozen shrimp and salmon, and canned tuna) from Organic Ocean, made possible by a donation from the Willow Grove Foundation. These families will also receive a recipe and cooking tips by Chef Robert Clark, recently appointed to the Order of Canada in November 2020 for establishing a world-renowned program to help businesses and customers identify and purchase sustainable seafood.

Seafood hampers will be distributed to families by Vancouver Coastal Health’s Leadership and Resilience program team and Vancouver Technical Secondary School. These are many of the same families that were provided with weekly meals earlier in the pandemic through our LunchLAB pivot, Chefs for Families.

“We are incredibly grateful for such a seamless collaboration between organizations and blown away by the number of people reaching out to volunteer their time and donate food, space, services, products and money. The resilience and support from our community is truly inspiring,” says Alexa Pitoulis, Executive Director of Fresh Roots.

About LunchLAB
Both Growing Chefs and Fresh Roots believe food can be a catalyst for positive change and a source of joy and inspiration, even during challenging times. LunchLAB is a collaborative project between two local charities, Growing Chefs and Fresh Roots. In LunchLAB, elementary and high school students learn to grow their own food, supplement that food from local farms, and with the support of their teacher and chef-in-residence, learn to cook for themselves and their peers.

About House of Knives
House of Knives’ vision is a simple one: to improve the quality of life of all those they encounter through education and innovation. Their goal is to match our customers with quality and functional tools and to educate them on how to use and maintain their tools. To achieve this, they strive to create an inclusive atmosphere within each of their stores where customers who appreciate quality feel comfortable entering and inquiring about their products and services. If customers’ needs are not obvious, they listen openly, and without prejudice or bias, to help them determine what their needs are and how to fulfill them. House of Knives aims to have their customers view them not only as a destination where one can purchase fine quality tools and functional gifts, but as a resource for the service, knowledge, and education required to use and maintain their investments.

About Organic Ocean
Organic Ocean was established by fishers who recognized that sustainable livelihoods rely upon sustainable fisheries. Driven by the growing demand for responsibly sourced seafood, Organic Ocean has evolved into a community of seafood producers — traditional, modern, and indigenous — all dedicated to the ecosystem and social stewardship. The top chefs were the first to recognize that by making choices for the good of our oceans, they were also being provided the finest ingredients. Now Organic Ocean fish and shellfish is also available for contactless, door to door delivery to the home or office. Organic Ocean is a Certified B Corporation and a member of 1% for the Planet and was named one of the Top 25 Sustainability-minded Seafood Suppliers That Have Transformed The North American Industry.


Donation Websites:

Photo and interview opportunities available.
Download High-Resolution Images Here:

Media Contacts:
Jaydeen Williams – Co-Interim Executive Director at Growing Chefs

Caroline Manuel – Communications and Engagement Manager at Fresh Roots
778-764-0DIG (0344), ext. 108

Program Contacts:
Amanda Adams – Program Director at Growing Chefs

Alexa Pitoulis – Executive Director at Fresh Roots 
778-764-0DIG (0344), ext. 101


*Job Opportunity* Good Food Farm Manager

Are you a farmer, who is excited to work with kids and youth, with at least 1 year of farm management experience and experience supervising staff, organizing farm work and selling farm produce? Let’s talk!
In this key role, the Good Food Farm Manager will be responsible for growing and sharing food with the community. You will lead our educational farms towards our production and educational goals, helping make our farm spaces exceptional examples of educational farms on school grounds.
Learn more and apply HERE.
We look forward to hearing from you!

Fresh Roots presents FIRST WE EAT

It’s Giving Tuesday next week. What is Giving Tuesday you ask? It is a global movement for giving and volunteering, which takes place each year after Black Friday the “opening day for the giving season” when charities, companies, and individuals join together and rally for their favourite causes.

At Fresh Roots we want to turn Giving Tuesday upside down and give a little something back to you, in addition to supporting a fantastic film and one of our cherished local theatres when they need it most. 

 Join Fresh Roots (from the comfort of your own home) for an online screening and Q & A of FIRST WE EAT, a film that documents what happens when an ordinary family, living just south of the Arctic Circle, bans all grocery store food from their house for one year.

Click the image below to watch the trailer.

Movie screening: now through December 5th via VIFF Connect aka Vancity Theatre

Q & A: Tuesday, December 1, 7:30PM-8:30PM PST


Learn more at:

How to watch:

  • Register through Eventbrite HERE 
  • We will send you an email with the promo code for $2 off the ticket price and the link to purchase your ticket from the VIFF Connect aka Vancity Theatre website (this will be done manually so please leave up to 12 hours to receive the code outside of regular business hours!)
  • The film will be available to watch any time between now and Dec 5th. If you are able, it would be great to watch the film before  joining in on the conversation Dec 1 at 7:30PM PST

How to join the Q & A:

  • Register through Eventbrite HERE
  • Watch for an email from Fresh Roots on Sunday, Nov, 29 which will contain a ZOOM link for the Tuesday, Dec. 1st Q & A from 7:30 PM-8:30 PM PST with FIRST WE EAT filmmaker Suzanne Crocker co-hosted by Fresh Roots fall staff Nicole and Kristen
  • Let Fresh Roots know what you think of FIRST WE EAT. Tag us: @freshrootsfarms on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter

This event is sponsored by Fresh Roots. Only 100 promo codes for the film are available.

We look forward to having you join us!

If you would like to support Fresh Roots and the work we do please visit our donation page to learn more


Fresh Roots is Seeking an Operations Coordinator

*Job opportunity*
Are you hyper-organized, curious, reliable, versatile, enjoy problem-solving and team interaction? Keep reading!
In this key role, the Operations Coordinator will be responsible for administrative support of the executive director and management team and supporting the effective and smooth running of Fresh Roots Urban Farm Society. By coordinating our overall operations this collaborative role helps Fresh Roots grow and expand our impact. This is a position for someone who loves the details in life and has a natural tendency towards systems and organizing.
Check out the Job Description for more details.
We will be conducting interviews as applications come in, so please don’t wait to submit!

Sowing the Future of Food Systems

Contemporary food studies programs are increasingly addressing the multifaceted challenges of food and its politics, including social justice, food sovereignty, and environmental sustainability.

November 12, 2020


Food Politics in the Coronavirus Era. First Nations Health and the Traditional Role of Plants. The Fight for Food Justice: Mass Market or Consumer Culture. These are some of the classes offered by a growing number of academic food studies programs globally that are educating students on the multifaceted challenges of food and its politics.

As it becomes increasingly evident that food is a universal lens through which to explore issues of identity, equity, sovereignty and social justice, food studies programs have proliferated. Today, undergraduate majors, minors and certificate programs, master’s degrees, PhDs, or graduate certificates are all options for students at different points in their studies, and some programs are designed for working professionals.

Mary Stein, program leader for Montana State University’s Sustainable Food and Bioenergy Systems program, explains the growing interest in food as a focus of study, as we are confronting “major planetary earth challenges like climate and the loss of natural resources as population grows, and this impacts the last bastions of wild ecosystems.” These high-stakes motivators, of which we are increasingly aware in society, are drawing students to this realm, she tells me. “[Students] feel the urgency, complexity and ubiquity of these challenges, and they see themselves as change agents on these issues.”

Marion Nestle, professor emerita at New York University, agrees. “We think of food studies as a lens through which to understand the most important social, political and economic problems in the world today.”

Or as Kristine Madsen, faculty director of the Berkeley Food Institute, phrases it succinctly: “Everybody eats. Every day.” She goes on to emphasize the relationship between eating and our modern way of life, saying, “every human condition issue we struggle with manifests in the food system and can be addressed through the food system.”

The first food studies programs in the United States began to be offered in the late 1980s and early 1990s and were built on a scholarly foundation of either gastronomy or dietetics and nutrition. For example, the program at Boston University Metropolitan College—one of the first—was created by culinary luminaries Julia Child and Jacques Pépin. Building on already-established programs such as the certificate in culinary arts, BU MET began to offer a master’s of liberal arts in gastronomy as a separate degree program.

In launching the program’s first course, Culture and Cuisine: Their Rapport in Civilization, Child and Pépin explicitly sought to position gastronomy as worthy of serious academic attention, a perspective that was hardly accepted at the time. Even today, several food studies faculty spoke of the challenges that still remain in gaining respect in academia for food as a subject of critical scholarly inquiry.

NYU’s program exemplifies the second academic foundation for food studies: dietetics and nutrition. According to Nestle, it offered the country’s first comprehensive degree programs, including undergraduate, master’s, and doctoral degrees. Nestle, a well-known expert on nutrition and public health, was recruited in 1988 to chair what was then called the Department of Home Economics and Nutrition; it is now referred to as the Department of Nutrition and Food Studies.

We are a long way from home economics. Today, a cadre of new programs—some of which feature elaborate new centers housing everything from state-of-the-art food science labs to conference spaces that host industry speakers—build on these foundations while focusing more strongly on themes of contemporary interest and career relevance, such as entrepreneurship and innovation, community engagement, and food policy. Arizona State University; University of Vermont; University of British Columbia; Montana State University; University of California, Berkeley; University of Oregon; and University of California, Davis are among those creating new centers, programs, or institutes around the study of food.

Three elements distinguish contemporary food studies programs: interdisciplinarity, community engagement, and systems thinking.

Interdisciplinarity, the crossing or connecting of multiple academic departments, is thought to better address the complexities inherent in food systems. Simone Cinotto, director of the Master of Gastronomy program at the University of Gastronomic Sciences in Pollenzo, Italy, echoes Nestle’s words, explaining that food has an “overwhelming presence in the human experience, touching every possible area—politics, geography, agriculture, health, anthropology, economics. It needs to be studied by a team, not in the isolation of different academic fields.”

Even at U.S. land-grant universities that were founded to advance agricultural studies, this recognition shapes both the curricula and the organizational structure of the programs within the university. For example, Montana State University’s program crosses both the College of Agriculture and the College of Food and Nutrition and encompasses four departments: Health and Human Development, Plant Science, Land Resources and Environmental Science, and Animal and Range Sciences.

Similarly, at Berkeley Food Institute, according to Madsen, students in the certificate of food systems program and its required core course, Transforming Food Systems, come from programs as diverse as public policy, business, natural resources, public health, environmental design, law, biology and education.

The second hallmark of food studies programs is community engagement. While the specific experiences can range from internships at local nonprofits to hackathons where students address food insecurity on campus, these elements are designed to ground students not only in theory but also in practice—and to supply them with the skills that future employers from corporations to community health clinics seek. William Valley, associate professor at the University of British Columbia, refers to such skill-building as “the sugar that makes the medicine go down.” At the same time, he explains, experiential learning, including experiencing first-hand the labor that makes food systems function, ensures students stay grounded in the realities of the work.

Such experiential education tends naturally toward activism. University of Vermont’s food studies program has “always been in the middle of the food movement,” says Amy Trubek, the founding faculty director of the graduate program in Food Systems. All undergraduates are required to do internships and, at the graduate level, master’s students engage in community-based learning and collaborative partnerships. Part of one such collaboration was a student-developed manual to guide food charities, which rely heavily on volunteers, about food safety protocols and the principles of food systems.

Community engagement also takes the form of entrepreneurship. At Montana State, an initiative called the Design Sandbox for Engaged Learning offered a class called Farm to Market, which was co-taught by faculty in food and nutrition, marketing, and graphic design. Two students in this class, Vanessa Walsten and Vanessa Williamson partnered to develop ways to help local farmers find additional streams of income. The experience led to the creation of the start-up company Farmented, which makes a line of fermented products out of vegetables that aren’t aesthetically ideal. Similarly, Berkeley’s program offers new courses taught by food entrepreneur and founding CEO of The Republic of Tea, Will Rosenzweig, with titles such as Food Innovation Studio, as well as Edible Education, which is co-taught with Alice Waters.

A third common element of contemporary food studies programs is systems thinking, which means training students in multiple theories and methodologies to prepare them to handle what Valley characterizes as the complexity and uncertainty of today’s global food systems. Trubek points especially to thorny issues of food politics, such as justice, food sovereignty, health inequities, and workers’ rights, calling them the “wicked problems of the day.”

Valley is explicit about the ways in which current food studies programs address the politics of food. At his university, food studies is rooted in the empiricism of the natural sciences. He says, “politics is a dirty word in the natural sciences. Initially, the program had more emphasis on environmental sustainability and economic viability. In the last five years, there has been more of a focus on social justice.”

Valley goes on to explain that in classes today, faculty and students face head-on issues, not just of food insecurity, but of “class, redistribution of wealth, inequality, gender, race, racism, white supremacy, colonization and decolonization. Five years ago, we used vague terms, dancing around these root causes. Now, we are better at talking about systemic forms of oppression, acknowledging this openly, and bringing these issues into natural sciences courses.”

Berkeley’s program comes at these issues through a focus on public policy, and Madsen says that new faculty recruits reflect the desire to address such issues head-on. For example, Saru Jayaraman, co-founder of Restaurant Opportunities Centers (ROC) United and One Fair Wage, teaches about food justice, workers’ rights, and food policy in her classes at the School of Public Policy and guest lectures on labor issues in the required core course.

Often, it is students who are helping reshape food studies programs. Stein says Montana State’s students are increasingly asking for classes on food and culture, ethnobotany, and resilience with an emphasis on climate change. She cites a new interdisciplinary course, Native Food Systems, taught in collaboration with the Native American Studies department, as one example.

Two food studies programs in Italy have also evolved from a traditional emphasis on gastronomy and cultural foodways to address the challenges of the modern global food system. The American University of Rome’s Center for Food Studies places its study of food production in the context of themes such as climate change, natural resources, hunger, obesity and food justice. While core courses continue to emphasize the socio-cultural, environmental, and health dimensions of food, contemporary interests such as food writing and rurality and development are also represented.

The University of Gastronomic Sciences in Pollenzo is the brainchild of Carlo Petrini, the founder of Slow Food International. Cinotto views the program he directs within that university, a one-year international course of study called Master of Gastronomy: World Food Cultures and Mobility, as training students to address what he calls the “awful shortcomings” of the contemporary food system. Specifically, Cinotto is trying to diversify the pool of instructors he recruits to teach, considering issues of gender, race, sexuality and class, with particular emphasis on representation from Latin America and Africa. New faculty includes Director of the Office of Racial Equity in San Francisco, Shakirah Simley; food historian and activist Michael Twitty; and NYU professor and author of The Ethnic Restaurateur, Krishnendu Ray.

There are high expectations that graduates of today’s food studies programs will have gained the education, skills and experiences needed to become game changers, improving food systems and the ways in which societies engage with food. It is too soon to say how impactful the programs are, as many are less than a decade old. Some graduates have gone on to become dieticians in community health clinics, while others have become city planners emphasizing urban sustainability. Some graduates have founded food companies or mission-driven farms, such as University of British Columbia graduate Marc Schutzbank, who directs Fresh Roots Urban Farm Society, a Vancouver-based nonprofit that creates community and school gardens on vacant parcels of land located on public school grounds. Kara Landolfi of Montana State became the farm-to-campus coordinator for the university’s culinary services, where she developed new innovative supply chain relationships, such as one with the local 4-H to source pork for campus dining.

Recent Berkeley graduate Daniela Solis is now with the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition. She says that with her education in food studies, “I was able to think critically about our food system in ways that extended beyond static measures of sustainability, and learned how to view issues from a more holistic viewpoint.” In addition to her interdisciplinary perspective, Solis says her training has allowed her to bring an optimism to her work on food systems—a hopefulness of seeing “meaningful change in food policy” within her lifetime. As she explains, “[that] change has to happen internally in organizations and individuals as much as it must happen at a larger scale.”

It is precisely this kind of organizational influence that food studies programs across the spectrum hope their graduates will spur—the kind that will bring the “meaningful change” in food systems that Solis hopes to see.


Scout List Vol. 571 | Scout Magazine- Help

Scout List Vol. 571

By Michelle Sproule | October 15th, 2020

HELP | Like the idea of mucking about outside on a schoolyard farm? Fresh Roots schoolyard market farm is looking for volunteers to help with a variety of farm tasks including weeding, moving compost, and spreading wood chips to help protect gardens for the winter. A little fresh air, some elbow grease, and a dose of community spirit — sounds like a good way to get grounded! There are three volunteer workdays this month. In order to manage numbers to meet with social distancing protocols, volunteers are asked to register in advance. You can do that here.


BC Election- it’s time to #NourishKidsNow 🥒 🥪 🍅

The week after Thanksgiving seems like the perfect moment to think about the status of food security in BC and Canada.
One way to address food insecurity is to support a national cost-shared, universal healthy school food program.
  • Did you know Canada is the ONLY G7 nation without any form of universal school meal program?
For the past several years, organizations and individuals have come together through the Coalition for Healthy School Food to advocate for a cost-shared, universal healthy school food program in Canada.
With the upcoming election in BC, we have the opportunity to continue to ask MLA candidates to commit to #NourishKidsNow and invest in #BCSchoolFood to make sure all students have daily access to healthy food at school. Please use THIS LINK to send a message to the candidates in your riding. (it takes less than 30 seconds!)

For more reading check out this article from the emerging Global Solidarity Alliance for Food, Health and Social Justice entitled Exploring the Emergence of a Global Solidarity Alliance for Food, Health and Social JusticeFresh Roots just signed on as a supporter!

And this CBC article published this morning entitled School food programs pivot to keep feeding students during COVID-19Our very own LunchLAB Chefs TJ and Tasha are pictured prepping food for this past spring/ summer’s LunchLAB: Chefs for Families COVID-19 meal program for kids and their families.

We hope you’ll take a moment to add your voice to the call to #NourishKidsNow!


October Farm Volunteer Sessions-Just Announced! 🍁

Are you itching to spend some time outside on a schoolyard farm? We are here to help! We are excited to welcome the return of volunteer sessions! Join us at the Fresh Roots schoolyard market farm at Vancouver Technical Secondary to help us with a variety of farm tasks including weeding, moving compost, or woodchips which will help us put the farm to bed for the winter! We’ve missed having folks from the community on the farm and

Join us for one of (or all!) three sessions in October!
Register here:

Friday, October 16th, 10-12:00 pm

Thursday, October 22nd, 10-12:00 pm

Thursday, October 30th, 10-12:00 pm- FULL

Please note:

Sessions are limited to 10 participants, to allow for physical distancing. Sign up to reserve your spot. You cannot attend without pre-registering. Please DO NOT attend if you are feeling unwell, including if you are experiencing flu-like symptoms such as a fever, cough, runny nose, or difficulty breathing.

What to bring:
*Garden gloves (we will have some available but ask that participants bring their own if possible)
*Rainboots or other waterproof footwear
*Water bottle
*Personal snacks
*Warm clothing/layers

We’re really looking forward to seeing you and sharing the magic of fall on the farm!