Here’s a chance to support the way young people learn about food while enjoying a sumptuous, seasonal meal at home.

by Gail Johnson on August 4th, 2020

Fresh Roots Urban Farm Society helps schools throughout Metro Vancouver build community by growing food. And to keep young people connected to what’s on their plates in the era of COVID-19, its annual summer fundraiser is going virtual.

Founded in 2009 by Gray Oron and Ilana Labow, Fresh Roots builds school gardens, with the produce that pops up going to school cafeterias, neighbourhood houses’ food-security initiatives, and a weekly Salad Box program for East Vancouver families. The nonprofit organization also employs youth through its Sustainable Opportunities for Youth Leadership (SOYL) program. Participants learn about where food comes from and how to grow and prepare it.

For the last three years, the group’s SOYL fundraising event has taken the form of a long-table dinner at David Thompson Secondary School. Since that’s not on the menu for 2020, the team has announced the Schoolyard Harvest Dinner At-Home Edition, taking place next Thursday (August 13).

Participants will receive in advance a summer harvest box filled with everything they need to create a seasonal summertime meal (with vegetarian or nonvegetarian options available).

Menu highlights include a locally sourced charcuterie board and profiteroles stuffed with Fresh Roots herbs and Salt Spring Island Goat Cheese. The main course consists of sous vide Organic Ocean sockeye masala and Legends Haul sirloin, Fresh Roots harvest salad, zucchini Palak paneer terrine, carrot vindaloo vinaigrette, atchara relish, and wheatberries.

Summer cheesecake topped with raspberry coulis from Olera Organic Farms finishes things off, with beverage choices featuring wine from Marquis Wine Cellars, 33 Acres Sunshine French Blanchè beer, or Bucha Brew kombucha. The meal kit also includes a bouquet of flowers for the table, cookies from Susgrainable, and a few surprises.

The festivities kick off at 6 p.m., when guests will gather online featuring kitchen tips and tricks from chefs TJ Conwi and Natasha Sawyer. SOYL participants will talk about their experiences with Fresh Roots, then people will sign off to enjoy their dinner at home.

Tickets start at $150 (plus taxes and service charges), which includes dinner for two plus wine, craft beer, or non-alcoholic beverages. Funds support the SOYL program.

“There is a great need, this summer in particular, for spaces for kids and youth to safely connect and learn,” Alexa Pitoulis, interim executive director of Fresh Roots, said in a release. “Our annual fundraising dinner provides critical funding which allows us to support more than 6,000 kids and youth annually—teaching them how to grow their own food, how to cook that food, and how they can engage with the land and their communities.”

For more info, visit Fresh Roots.

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