Donor Profile

Whole Foods Market: Supporting Growing Chefs! for ten years!

Whole Foods Market has been supporting Growing Chefs! since 2009 and tomorrow, their generosity stretches province-wide! All seven British Columbia locations of Whole Foods Market will generously donate 5% of net sales from the entire day to support our Classroom Gardening and Cooking program. Happy shopping!


P.S. This old Whole Foods Market feature post may look vintage on our old blog, but it’s worth checking out!

From Farms to Forks 10: Thank You

On October 6th, we hosted our 10th annual From Farms to Forks harvest kitchen party at Pacific Institute of Culinary Arts. Our guests wandered from kitchen to kitchen to watch chefs in action, meet growers, and enjoy delicious tasting plates - each paired with a different wine from Mission Hill Family Estate.

Click here to relive the menu and the pairings!

More photos to come soon!

Photo Credit: Kai Mallari

From Farms to Forks is Growing Chefs’ biggest fundraising event of the year and we hoped to raise $70,000 this year to support our 2019/2020 Classroom Gardening & Cooking Program. Our supporters helped us to exceed our goals and expectations and together, we raised:

Over $84,000!

Each year, our founder and chair of the board, Merri Schwartz, writes and reads a thank you poem at the event. This is From Farms to Forks 10:

Gather ‘round guests, we’ve some thanks to attend to,

Don’t fret! They’ll be brief! Off to eat we’ll soon send you.

First, thanks to you for attending tonight,

To see you all here is a most welcome sight.

Thanks PICA, for hosting us each year with grace,

Our event would not work save your most special space.

Chef Marc, Yves and Sylvia, Jen, and the rest,

Our most sincere thanks. You are simply the best!

Our Silver Thyme Sponsors: Whole Foods! Mission Hill!

Bushel Sponsors, the thanks in our cups will soon spill…

… Over! For there are so many to thank,

Farmers, chefs, restaurants, your work fuels our tank.

The farmers whose toil and whose gifts make us grateful,

The chefs who create and bring magic to table.

The classic bar duo you’ve all come to adore,

Dear Ange and dear David, now go forth and pour!

Growing Chefs! staff, you know truly no bounds,

The work you put into this simply astounds.

Thanks Board of Directors, you shape our vision,

Thanks for attending and for all you’ve given.

50 volunteers came to help us this evening,

The effortlessness of it all is deceiving!

On bar and on wine, on auction and door,

On service, on fundraising, and still there’s more!

Robbyn—you’ve swooped in to save us as always,

You nail it each time, please accept our praise!

Dear Fred and Margaret, we thank you each year,

And each time, like angel emcees you appear.

Peter Blitz for the sound and the mic in my hands,

Stania and Devi, your ticket-selling record still stands!

For the many supporters among us right now,

Adopt-a-classroom donors, please take a bow.

CIBC, Whole Foods, Telus, SVP, SpencerCreo

Les Dames, Christopher Family Foundation, we’re all such big fans.

Our Champion Radishes—29 here this evening,

All auction donors whose items you’re scheming…

… To win! Go ahead, take a look, place your bids,

Thanks our young growing chefs representing the kids,

Artona, your patience is truly abounding,

Thanks for the printing, our thanks is resounding.

Bella Wines for the sparkling and Fiodesigns for… design!

We’ve mentioned Mission Hill, but thank god for wine.

And beer! Thanks for beer, too. From Fuggles & Warlocks,

And cocktails. Long Table will knock off your socks.


More beer still, Strange Fellows, and Phillips the soda,

You ensure that refreshment will exceed our quota.

Thanks Terra, like many, you’ve been with us for years,

Edible and Scout ensured our event reached your ears.

Grounds for Coffee, we thank you.

Hives for Humanity, merci.

Mahalo, Mavreen David, Kai Mallari, and Leila Kwok Photography.

For cheese, we say danke, to our friends at Les Amis.

Mink Chocolates, grazie, for answering our call,

Namasthé, we’d say thanks but your name says it all. (ha!)

From Pedersen’s the rentals, our annual set,

For our sweet raffle prize, let’s not miss WestJet.

And lastly, let’s cheer for a decade of this! 

You’ve made From Farms to Forks an event not to miss.

Happy Birthday to you and Growing Chefs!

This summer, we were pleasantly surprised to hear that classroom volunteer Vanessa Leung was fundraising for Growing Chefs! for her birthday! Thanks so much, and HAPPY BIRTHDAY Vanessa!

Contact Jaydeen if you would like more information about how to donate your birthday! Read on to meet Vanessa!


What about Growing Chefs resonates with you?

When I learned about Growing Chefs! my heart jumped out with a strong “YES!” I knew I had to get involved.

When I left home at 18, I only knew how to boil vegetables, pre-made dumplings and instant noodles. Years after, I still didn’t have the drive to learn how to cook a proper meal! My friends would have to bring cookware and utensils if they wanted to make dinner at my place.

For most of my life, I relied on and indulged in processed foods as a way to cover up hard emotions. It was not until my health took a toll, did realize that I had the ability to take care of myself and use whole foods as medicine! It was like diving into a black hole of self-healing and clarity. By then, I could only wish that I had this knowledge earlier in my life.

Growing Chefs! serves that very wish - My hope for kids of all ages to have access to tools to help them feel empowered to make healthy choices for themselves. Growing Chefs! curriculum cultivates curiosity, community and creativity for the kids PLUS it’s so much FUN!

What is your favourite Growing Chefs! lesson?

They are all my favourite, but if I had to choose one it would be vegetable sharing circle. I’ve always believed that sharing is empowering and in this class the kids get to share a sneak peak into their classmate’s favourite meals at home and get to learn about vegetables from all over the world.

I think just being in the presence of their pure excitement and joy over every class is moving to me. This year, the class sang “Here Comes the Sun” while we were cleaning up after a class. It was a perfect way to wrap up a Growing Chefs! class and a memory I’ll hold dear to me forever.

Do you have a garden at home?

Yes I do! I live in a condo and we have planter boxes surrounding the perimeter of our humble balcony. It does the job! We get a constant supply of kale, cilantro and herbs. Even my dog, Barley, gets to have his share of kale!

What's your favourite vegetable?

My favourite vegetable is broccoli! I love it as a salad with other bright coloured vegetables, stir-fried with loads of garlic or roasted with lemon juice. I eat EVERYTHING, right down the stems. The stems are the most nutritious part!

What's your favourite seasonal recipe?

My favourite seasonal recipe would be sea asparagus with pasta. I just stir-fry the sea asparagus, add fresh minced garlic and extra virgin olive oil and toss with brown rice pasta of choice. Super simple and delicious!

Last year your business, 80/20 Living & Company made a donation to Growing Chefs! Tell us a little more about the work you do?

80/20 Living & Company is a space where people would feel inspired and learn tools to live a conscious and intentional life full of abundance. Through coaching and training, I guide creative entrepreneurs to work through their fears and connect to their body mind and spirit so they can feel confident about who they are and what they do. They learn how to stop wasting time and energy so they can start focusing on loving and sharing their gifts.

My big vision is to start a life school for families where families can connect by learning and sharing together.

Anything else you'd like to share?

I’ve always been inspired by kids and their wisdom. All they require is the space to share their creativity and wisdom. I’ve learned so much from the kids over the past 3 years, it has been the root of my inspiration in starting the life school for families.

I think that the work that Growing Chefs! is doing is so monumental in the future for our community. Thank you for setting the path and being a leader for healing changes!

Donor Profile: Champion Radish Club

The Champion Radish Club is currently made up of 61 generous individuals and families who donate monthly. They share our vision of a world with healthy, just, sustainable food practices and we’d love to introduce you to three of them!


A Champion Radish Club member since 2016, Richard Banner works with Polestar Communications Inc. as a writer and editor. He is the vice chair of the Growing Chefs! board of directors and has served on the board for over a decade.

Christina was once a member of our staff team at Growing Chefs! and now works for Canuck Place Children's Hospice as a Major Gifts Officer. Mike is a Service Center Manager at Speedy Glass. The two have recently become first-time parents! They have been Champion Radish Club members since 2017.


Risa is our newest Champion Radish Club member joining just this week! She works as the Executive Director of Common Weal Community Arts, a Saskatchewan arts organization and moonlights as an artist, a grant-writing consultant, and in a brewery. Risa is a mother of two.

What's your favourite seasonal vegetable?

Richard: I'm really enjoying the fresh asparagus this year. I like to think of the crisp green shoots pushing their way out of the ground and reaching up into the sunshine.

Christina: This is always tough to decide because I love pretty much all vegetables! Celery has always been a favourite since I was a kid for snacking - I still love ants on a log.

Mike: Corn on the cob!

Risa: I'm obsessed with zucchini. There's no dish that can't be made better with zucchini. Plus, I love growing monster zucchini in the garden every summer. I have the opposite of a green thumb, but the zucchini always pulls through!

What is your earliest food-related memory?

Richard: I remember the taste of green beans that I picked from the bushes in the back of my parent's home in Port Alberni. I didn't enjoy it then when I had to go out to the hot garden to pick the beans, but I still remember how good they were.

Christina: I have so many good food memories! When I was little we lived on a small hobby farm and my parents grew and raised most of our food. I feel quite lucky to have experienced this. When I was little we could walk out to the garden and pick fresh strawberries, carrots, and peas for snacks. Fresh always tasted just the best!

Risa: Eating dinner in the field during harvest. I feel like the smell of dirt and grain is nostalgic for everyone who grew up in a farming family. My prairie childhood is such a huge part of who I am and the most iconic memory is sitting in the bed of a pickup truck, covered in dust and eating classic farm meals with my Dad.

As a parent, what food values do you bring to your family?

Christina & Mike: We love to cook. We love making everything from scratch and consider ourselves fairly adventurous eaters. Having our daughter experience a wide variety of flavours when she starts on solid food is important because we want her to enjoy much of what we like and learn that there’s so much variety in food. When she is old enough we will have her join in the food prep/cooking experience as much as possible. Even toddlers can learn to help! Taking pride in the food you prepare makes you enjoy eating it so much more. It also helps to create a less picky eater which is always a bonus.

Risa: I think it's important to remember that food is what fuels us. It's so easy to succumb to thinking you need to make "kid food" (which is, inevitably, beige), but when you shift the conversation to filling your body with nutritious fuel, vegetables become magic. I also think it's crucial to let kids be a part of everything from grocery shopping to food prep to cooking. Meal times are family time and that extends well beyond just eating together.

How does being a part of the Champion Radish Club make you feel?

Richard: I'm happy that I can do a bit to help bring the Growing Chefs! program to kids in schools. I've seen how much fun kids have growing and eating healthy foods so I hope Growing Chefs! can bring the program to as many people as possible.

Christina & Mike: We love contributing to kids learning about healthy eating and being in the kitchen. It will benefit them their whole lives! Plus who doesn’t love digging in dirt and watching food grow? Growing Chefs! brings so much joy to the classroom and kids take those lessons home to their families.

Risa: So many kids in urban centres are growing up completely disconnected from their food. Growing Chefs! is doing important work in making sure kids in Vancouver understand where their food comes from and give them knowledge about what they put in their bodies.

Donor Profile: Earth's Own


Our Adopt a Classroom program makes it easy for companies to get involved with Growing Chefs! This 2018/2019 school year, Earth's Own generously adopted four classrooms, providing the opportunity for these teachers and kids to experience our Classroom Gardening & Cooking Program when they otherwise couldn't.

We caught up with Robyn Skinner to talk a little about Earth’s Own new branding, and why they support Growing Chefs!

How long have you been working at Earth's Own, and what do you do there?

I started at Earth’s Own in May 2018, so I am still relatively new. That being said, since joining the team our plant-based mission has really impacted the way I look at + think about food. I have adopted a mostly plant-based diet and really believe in our mission.

The best way to describe my job is that I am a Plant-Based Connector. My #1 role as a Brand Manager is to get more people eating more plants. It’s as simple as that!

What is the most exciting part of working at Earth's Own?

Right now… everything! We are all about creating change. At Earth’s Own we’re on a mission to make plant-based living delicious and doable. Why? Because plants make us feel good, they’re good to the earth and they are great for communities. In short, we think a plant based diet can save the world and that’s really exciting!

Oh and Oat Milk. I’m low-key obsessed with Oat Milk! It is the new environmental kid on our plant-based block. If you haven’t tried it yet, we highly recommend. It’s rich and creamy like milk, grown using 7x less water than Almond or Dairy Milk and it supports Canadian Farmers.

Tell us a little more more about the company.

At Earth’s Own, we’re here to stand up for the planet and our health. We don’t see plant-based living as a “vegan” thing, it’s an everybody thing. We see eating plants as a healthier choice for the Earth and our bodies. Plants use less water, land and energy and are more nutritious. We dig ‘em so much, even our cartons are made from plants! We have some pretty big goals for the Plant Generation, but as I said above it’s really about inspiring more people to eat more plants.


We see Earth’s Own has a new logo! Tell us more about your new branding.

Yes! We have re-designed our logo to align back to our mission. “We dig plants!” You’ll now start to see this branding come to life. We also will be launching a new website and are updating all of our packaging, starting in February. It’s a really exciting time for us and we can’t wait to share everything we have been working on.

What about Growing Chefs! resonated with your giving?

Well, if the future is plant-based, then it begins with our kids! We love how the Growing Chefs! program is teaching young ones how to grow their own veggies and turn them into healthy meals. In turn they teach their parents and families how to bring more plants into their meals. The more we can support making plants fun for kids, the better.

What was it like visiting the Growing Chefs! classroom?

I absolutely loved it! In November 2018, we were invited to act as judges for the end of the semester stir-fry competition. I couldn’t believe how excited the kids were to take the recipes they had personally created and cook them for us. They were so proud of what they had done and it tasted delicious! I remember one of the teams plated their dish with a side smear of Sriracha sauce. It definitely won the most “Spice-tastic” award!