Volunteer Profile

Volunteer Spotlight: Magnus Thomas

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And for our last volunteer spotlight during National Volunteer Appreciation Week we would like to introduce you to Magnus - a new volunteer in the classroom this Fall.

Tell us a little bit about yourself. What do you do? Where are you from?
”I work as a cook in a Seafood Restaurant called Oddfish in Kitsilano. I'm from Germany and moved to Vancouver in 2017. “

How did you first hear about Growing Chefs!?
“I heard about Growing Chefs from the Half A Dozen Hospitality Podcast.”

Why did you decide to volunteer in the classroom with us? And why do you feel programs like Growing Chefs! are important?
“I decided to Volunteer, because I like the idea of educating people about food. There is not enough education about it in our society. We overall don't eat very healthy but it doesn't take a lot to be healthy. We just need to change our habits around food.”

What is your favourite seasonal vegetable?
”My favourite vegetable is broccoli.”

If you could cook and share a meal with anyone (living or dead) who would it be and why?
”If i could could cook and share a meal with somebody it would be my mother in law who was a passionate cook and we enjoyed cooking together. She always liked to tell me how i was supposed to cook it though.“

What is your favourite meal to prepare for yourself?
”I like to make simple Pastas. You can be very creative with it. It's different every time.”

Thank you to ALL our volunteers. Our program would not happen without you! It takes over 200 volunteers to bring our Classroom Gardening and Cooking Program to schools throughout the Lower Mainland and Victoria.

Volunteer Spotlight: Krista Ettles

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To continue celebrating National Volunteer Appreciation Week, we would like to introduce you to Krista. She is a longtime volunteer who has taken the last few years off of volunteering in the classroom to build her food entrepreneur career via Nourished & Whole, but now she is back and ready to plant some seeds in the classroom.

Tell us a little bit about yourself. What do you do? Where are you from?
My name is Krista and I’m an entrepreneur, cook, teacher, recipe developer, and food blogger. I teach people how to cook better at home and make food fun again! I’m passionate about food and love to inspire people to get back into their kitchens. Besides food, I love hiking, beach volleyball and anything outdoors really. I’m a born and raised local and grew up in White Rock.

Why did you decide to volunteer again in the classroom with us?
I’ve done the program before and absolutely love teaching the kids about food. It’s so great to see them get excited about growing their own food and trying different things. It’s such a fun experience!

What is your favourite seasonal vegetable?
There’s so many to choose from but I’d have to say asparagus for Spring.

If you could cook and share a meal with anyone (living or dead) who would it be and why?
Hands down Julia Child. I’d love to sit down and hear about her life in person. She was such a pioneer in the food world and as a woman. She’s someone I admire and is definitely a role model for me.

What is your favourite meal to prepare for yourself?
Again so many choices but I’d probably say some sort of salmon dish. I do a really good maple balsamic marinade. Simple but delicious! My brother is also a fishing guide so I’m lucky to get out and catch the fish myself!

Why do you feel programs like Growing Chefs! are important?
I think it’s so important kids are taught the importance of cooking and where our food comes from. It’s something that’s definitely getting lost in our world of fast food so I think cooking is a life skill that we need to be teaching kids…..and ourselves. Being conscious about our food choices and where it comes from has a huge impact on our health, our planet and our communities and I think it’s a must that we teach our kids this for future generations. 

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Thank you Krista, and thank you to all of our volunteers!

Volunteer Spotlight: Brennen Murray

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Our Classroom Gardening and Cooking Program is 100% delivered by our wonderful volunteers. We literally could not do what we do without the generous support of our volunteers who not only donate their time but their knowledge. Since it is National Volunteer Week and we have the BEST volunteers, we want to highlight a few. First off is a first-time volunteer (with us), Brennen Murray.

Hi! Tell us a little about yourself.
”Hello! My name is Brennen Murray. I've worked in coffee and food for over ten years, am a barista and a cook at Renfrew Park Community Centre as well as with The Kidsafe Project. I am interested in food sovereignty, urban farming, and localized food systems. I live in a communal home on Victoria Drive where we work to build a closer, sharing community and learn more about growing things.”

We hear you're a worm guy. Tell us more!
”When I first moved to Vancouver and started becoming an urban gardener, I found container gardening to be inefficient and needing constant fertilizing and found myself wishing for the compost pile that was always rotating around the backyard I grew up with. A little bit of research brought me to the City Farmer Vermicomposting Program, which I recommend to anyone wishing to recycle their food scraps into healthy soil for growing things. My initial $25 dollar kit has grown over the years into several bins of worms feeding off the food scraps from a household of six and giving a welcome dose of organic soil every 6 months as well as compost tea (fertilizer) that can be used at any time.”

How did you hear about Growing Chefs?
”I came across Growing Chefs! in the fall while looking for ways to get involved in food security and food sovereignty.”

What made you interested in volunteering with us?
”With The Kidsafe Project, it is my responsibility to feed kids at my site during school breaks, but also to teach them about nutrition and the foods we eat. Growing Chefs! has a great curriculum that teaches kids all about growing food and ways to use it. I'm excited to watch kids interact with food in such a hands on manner and bring that excitement for food to the kids at Kidsafe.”

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What's your favourite seasonal vegetable?
”Summertime: cucumbers, for the crisp, juicy bite fresh off the plant. Wintertime: Brussels Sprouts, because they grow all winter and just keep getting better.”

What is your earliest food-related memory?
”Either walking down the tall narrow rows of strung up peas in my mother’s garden, harvesting thick pods into a colander and often opening the pods and eating the peas fresh; or tip-toeing in the strawberry patch, turning the berries over to see which ones had ripened all the way around and were ready for eating.”

How did your first lesson in the classroom go?
”It was incredible! We examined seeds and their full grown vegetable form, planted the seeds, and imagined and hoped for a beautiful growing garden. I was definitely just as excited as the kids and can't wait to get back into the classroom for lesson two.”

Thank you so much Brennen - we (and your class) are lucky to have you.

Stay tuned this week for more volunteer spotlights.

Volunteer Profile: Chef Jason

We love the enthusiasm that our volunteers bring into the classroom, and we’re especially excited when we get to support volunteers through their own professional growth. Thank you Chef Jason for all you have given us. Your future students are lucky to have you!

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Jason, how did you first hear about us?

I heard about Growing Chefs! on Twitter in 2014. I was just flipping through and a chef I follow had tweeted about it so I clicked on the tweet and link, and read up about it. After reading about it I thought it was something I’d like to help out with. 

When you’re not in the classroom role of “Chef Jason”, what are you up to?

Currently I’m in school to become a secondary school teacher, specifically a teaching chef in the cafeteria. As part of the Bachelor of Education program, we are to do a 3 week Community Field Experience where we can choose from quite an extensive list of places to volunteer at, with a focus on school-aged children.  When I saw Growing Chefs! was on the list I jumped at the opportunity to be able to work with them again as my previous experiences were awesome! 

What about Growing Chefs! makes you return as a volunteer?

The curriculum is so well thought out and easy to present and engaging, not just for the students but for volunteers also. The excitement of the students as you are walking towards the classroom and entering it is great. Teachers are always asking how to get it into their own classrooms and I think that’s a testament to their thoughts and feelings about the program and how it enriches the students' experience.

And the students are great. They have tons of questions and are truly interested in what we are looking to teach them. Seeing them excited about vegetables and trying vegetables that they normally wouldn’t experience is also a neat experience.

If someone is on the fence about volunteering, what would you say to them?

The program is extremely well set up. The Growing Chefs! team puts all volunteers through a training session where they give you the binder with the curriculum in it. It is all the lesson plans, materials, and tips and hints on working with school-aged children. It’s so well laid out and definitely, after going through the training session, I was set at ease.