Fred Lee’s Social Network: Rooted in Goodness

by Fred Lee

Last year’s Fresh Roots inaugural long table dinner was held inside the hallways of David Thompson Secondary School due to inclement weather. This year, Mother Nature cooperated and the sophomore schoolyard Harvest Party was successfully staged outside on dry land next to its education farm — a school market garden. A fortunate 140 guests snapped up tickets to the sold-out fundraising dinner in support of the non-profit’s effort to grow community through good food.

Sprouted in 2009, Fresh Roots founders Ilana Labow, Gray Oron and Marc Schutzbank greeted attendees to the multi-course family-style feast curated by chefs Karima Chellouf and Kym Nguyen, incorporating ingredients sourced from schoolyard farms. Fresh Roots manages four edible educational gardens on school property in the Vancouver, Delta and Coquitlam School Districts. Through experiential learning, students get to appreciate the full cycle of how their food arrives on their table and gain an appreciation of good food.

This year’s al fresco dinner benefited Fresh Roots SOYL initiative, an innovative seven-week summer leadership and empowerment program. High school students tend to and cultivate the ½ acre schoolyard farm; develop skills in growing, cooking and selling the fruits of their labour at farmers markets. Through their time with SOYL, students develop a greater connection to themselves, their community and their local food system, says Schutzbank. Proceeds from the outdoor garden party will employ fifty summer students in the SOYL program next year.

Fresh Roots co-founder Marc Schutzbank and youth empowerment manager Rosalind Sadowski fronted the second annual Schoolyard Harvest Party. Fred Lee / PNG

David Thompson Secondary alumni Winnie Kwan, former SOYL student participant turned program coordinator, and Ilana Labow, co-founder of Fresh Roots, welcomed 140 guests to the schoolyard long table fundraising dinner. Fred Lee / PNG

Christine Weston, farm manager, and Gray Oron, Fresh Roots co-founder, has seen their year-round program grow. Fresh Roots now manages four edible educational gardens on school property in the Vancouver, Delta and Coquitlam School Districts. Fred Lee / PNG

UBC Land Food Systems Dean Ricky Yada and Assistant Dean Tracey London took in the alfresco family style dinner at David Thompson Secondary School in East Vancouver. Fred Lee / PNG

Scotiabank’s senior brass Sandra Boyce and Larry Clements came out to the schoolyard farm to enjoy a memorable meal and learn more of the Fresh Roots program. Fred Lee / PNG

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