Growing Chefs! Chefs for Children’s Urban Agriculture is a non-profit society, based in Vancouver, B.C. Our mission is to educate children, families, and community members about healthy eating and healthy food systems.

Growing Chefs! has been a registered non-profit society since September 15, 2005.

A world with healthy, sustainable food practices.

To teach healthy, sustainable food practices.

Mission Statement
Growing Chefs’ mission is to teach children, families, and the community about healthy food and healthy food systems.

Charitable Purpose
Growing Chefs’ mission is to educate children, families, and community members about healthy eating and healthy food systems by providing programs, seminars, and workshops.

Core Goals

  • Put chef volunteers into elementary schools to teach kids about growing and cooking their food.
  • Support and encourage the development and growth of urban agriculture.
  • Provide an avenue for chefs and growers to engage in the community and to support food sustainability.
  • Provide children with hands-on experience growing and cooking their own food.
  • Inspire children with the idea that they can grow their own food, even in the city.

Core Values

  • Sustainability. We are committed to championing sustainable food systems and food practices that benefit the health of our shared environment.
  • Positive Change. We are committed to realizing positive change within the food community, and to educating the greater community on the benefits of healthy, sustainable food systems.
  • Local Focus. We support and value local food practices, local farmers, and local food production.
  • Collaboration. We engage chef, educators, growers, children, community groups, and families to work together to support food sustainability.
  • Better Health. We encourage healther eating and healthier food practices.
  • Respect, Participatory Democracy, and Inclusion. We are committed to treating everyone with integrity, fairness, and honesty. We acknowledge the uniqueness of each individual, their skills, beliefs, opinions, and voice.
  • Trust. We aim to ensure honesty, transparency, responsibility, and accountability in all our work, and are committed to building an organizational culture based on these values.

Growing Chefs! Chefs for Children’s Urban Agriculture runs a Classroom Gardening and Cooking Program in elementary schools to get kids excited about growing, cooking, and eating good, healthy food. In our program, chef volunteers are paired with Grades 1-3 classrooms for the primary program and Grades 4-6 classrooms for the intermediate program to give students hands-on gardening and cooking experience.

How it works
Over the course of three and a half months, the chefs visit the classroom every two weeks, helping the students plant and tend to indoor vegetable gardens.

  • The chefs engage the students in games, lessons, and activities focusing on plant growth, local and urban agriculture, sustainability, and nutrition.
  • The students harvest their vegetables, and the chefs teach them to cook delicious, healthy meals with what they have grown.
  • The program runs every year from March to June. Learn more about becoming a volunteer or getting the program into your classroom. You can also get in touch with us here.

Ceri Barlow and Andrew Paumier have taken the lead role in bringing this amazing program to Victoria on behalf of the Island Chefs Collaborative. Both the ICC and Growing Chefs share common core values so we saw it as a natural fit. We are partnered with Pat Carrico’s grade 3 class at Vic West Elementary. When the school was presented with the offer to be the pilot school for this program the response was an overwhelming yes. Growing Chefs provides a 7 lesson template that is professional yet easy to use and understand. I believe that this was a big part of the reason that it was so readily accepted by Ms. Carrico. An added bonus was that it fit in perfectly with her curriculum in science around plant growth and change.

Ceri, Andrew and Chef Chris Hammer started working with the 18 grade 3 students on March 31st, 2014 by helping the students plant their windowsill garden.  Needless to say the kids were super enthusiastic about having us in their class and about getting to play in the dirt!  We continue to visit the classroom every second week to deliver a new lesson about plants, local food and agriculture and of course tasting all kinds of vegetables. The students readily accepted our challenge to try at least one new veggie each week and they are eager to tell us all about it when we go to see them. All of the students are actively engaged in our lessons and really look forward to is being there. I have to say I kind of feel like a real life super hero when I put on my chefs jacket and step into the classroom. The kids faces light up and the excitement level is so awesome to see.

The garden is growing well. We have planted bush beans, snow and snap peas, radishes, beets and a variety of lettuces. The students are responsible for watering and maintaining their garden.  Ms Carrico tells us that each and every student really looks forward to their turn to tend to the plants.

We are just past the half way point in the program now and we can see that the kids are really starting to connect with the concept of growing their own food. It is our hope that we can expand the program next year to include more schools and engage more kids. We have already had interest expressed from schools in both the Victoria and Sooke School districts. We have certainly appreciated the assistance we have received from Tracy Cullen, Janet Krenz and Justine Wardle of Island Health. We recognize that they will be  valuable partners in rolling this program out on a larger scale.

I would like to thank everyone involved for their commitment of time and resources in getting Growing Chefs up and running in Victoria. A special thanks goes out to the ICC and Island Health for providing funding to make this all possible.  I know that we will continue to see amazing results with all the kids we connect with through this program. Congratulations to everyone!!

Andrew Paumier