Join the Fresh Roots Schoolyard Harvest At-Home Edition Dinner, August 13th

There is only one week left to sign up for Fresh Roots’ annual Schoolyard Harvest fundraising dinner on August 13th! Although the current cultural climate makes the dinner’s traditional long table format unfeasible, virtual ‘attendees’ can still facilitate their own intimate gathering of friends, family or coworkers to share in a special chef-designed meal showcasing the season’s bounty. As usual, proceeds from ticket sales go towards the SOYL (Sustainable Opportunities Youth Leadership) program, which engages and empowers youth by teaching them about every level of the food system, from growing to selling their food. The ticket sales cut-off date for the Fourth Annual event is on August 7th.

Available for groups of two, four or six (larger groups may be accommodated by special request) each Harvest Box comes complete with all of the ingredients you need to create a spectacular four course meal (both vegetarian and non-vegetarian options are available), plus your choice of beverages to accompany it. All of the ingredients come direct from various local farms and producers, including Fresh Roots, Zaklan Heritage Farm, Cropthorne Farm, Legends Haul, 33 Acres and more. The boxes also include special touches like a floral arrangement for your table, locally produced hand sanitizer for you and your guests, and special surprises courtesy of some SOYL participants. The idyllic garden setting is unfortunately not included…luckily you’ve still got a couple of weeks to get creative and plan your own lovely indoor or outdoor supper spot. But first, get your tickets here ASAP!

Over the course of the evening, at-home diners will congregate online to hear first hand stories from SOYL participants about their experiences with Fresh Roots. Local Chefs TJ Conwi and Natasha Sawyer, who designed this year’s menu, will also be sharing some of their knowledge and how-to, but in the meantime we couldn’t wait to pose a few questions of our own…

Which single ingredient best captures the season for you and why?

Natasha Sawyer: It changes week to week as the summer rolls along, but this week it’s tomatoes! There’s nothing more beautiful than watching a tomato getting riper day after day, and finally picking it. It doesn’t need any help to be amazing. It’s juicy, sweet, and absolutely perfect.

What has been the most valuable life lesson that cooking has taught you so far?

NT: That human beings thrive on connection, and food is one of the most beautiful ways we do that.

What one message would you like to communicate with your food?

NT: Food can be a source of joy as well as nutrition. It’s just plain fun.

Which single ingredient best captures the season for you and why?

TJ Conwi: Locally grown strawberries. I love it when the local berries start arriving at the Farmer’s Market. Grocery shopping in the sunshine and fresh air with my family is a memorable part of summer — we always have to find a water fountain to wash the berries before our walk home because the kids can’t wait to eat them.

What has been the most valuable life lesson that cooking has taught you so far?

TJC: Cooking gave me a sense of purpose in my life. Being a chef for more than 20 years I’ve been able to make a difference through food. I’ve mentored cooks, influenced the way people eat for the better of the environment through sustainable practices, and now I’m able to help provide more than 5000 meals per week to feed people most affected by the COVID-19 food security crisis.

What one message would you like to communicate with your food?

TJC: That good food should be for everyone. From fine dining haute cuisine to ugly delicious Asian food that I love, all the way to food for charities, everyone should have the opportunity to taste delicious meals. If we pitch in to ensure our community’s food security, there is enough good food to go around. And we’re all better for it.

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  • SOYL Flowers for the Market Jul 2020

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