Urban Roots Harvest Dinner
On Sunday, September 16, 2018, over 150 people, including dozens of Middlesex Law Association members and an out-of-town lawyer or two, descended on a 3-acre plot of London real estate for a celebration of Urban Farming. The land is a picturesque dichotomy of urban agriculture within the City; situated in the shadow of the high-wires and power generators at the base of the busy Highbury Avenue and Hamilton Road intersection, but also on the banks of the Thames River across the river from the Meadowlily Woods environmentally significant area. The farm also lies in the heart of one of London’s many “food deserts”, where access to affordable, high quality, nutritious produce is limited.
Until recently the land sat vacant, untended, and under-utilized. But in mid-2017, an non-profit organization formed to change that – and to change the way that Londoners think about food production and distribution. That organization is Urban Roots London.
Urban Roots is now in its second growing season and it is spreading the reach of its “Model of Thirds” across this City: one-third of the produce it grows on the urban farm under its cultivation is donated to its community development partners like the Crouch Community Resource Centre, My Sister’s Place, London Food Bank, and the Vegan Food Bank; one-third is sold at affordable rates to local food-food based social enterprises and directly to the community at a farm-gate market; and the final third is sold at market rates to local restaurant partners and other Londoners who support the project. Farm operations and administration is entirely volunteer driven by a diverse group of board members (including Lerners LLP civil litigation lawyer, Jacob Damstra), and committed community members. Urban Roots also provides a growing selection of educational opportunities through local schools and community youth organizations like Growing Chefs Ontario.
But back to the celebration! A large part of Urban Roots’ operating budget has been derived from donation, sponsorship, and fundraising, with its annual Harvest Dinner as the capstone fundraising event – not to mention one of the most unique philanthropic outings that London has to offer.
2018 was no different. Guests toured the farm with home-made Urban Roots cocktails and local craft beer from Forked River Brewing. They were serenaded by live piano instrumentals. They were educated about the Urban Roots vision and mission. Oh, and they enjoyed a mouthwatering eight-course menu, served family style by the Urban Roots board and volunteers, prepared by the Wolfe Pack (Wolfe of Wortley, Los Lobos, Early Bird) and team, made with produce harvested just hours before, and just metres from their tables. The meal itself was cause for celebration, but the Urban Roots team was equally proud to commemorate its second successful growing season and its efforts to advance urban agriculture within London.
Urban Roots would like to thank its generous sponsors and other partners, without which this amazing Harvest Dinner would not have been possible: The Wolfe Pack, Lerners LLP, Trojan Technologies, London Training Centre, Forked River Brewing Company, Fireroasted Coffee Company, Tania Floral, Curtis Justrabo Photography, and all of its wonderful volunteers.
Urban Roots would also like to acknowledge the attendance and support of the London legal community, including Lerners LLP, Ron Ellis Law, Afolabi Law, Keli Mersereau Law, Gord Cudmore, James Zegers, Nicola Circelli, Otto Colosimo, Gregory Willson, Clark Armstrong, Georgia Kortas, and Jacob Shelley.
Photos courtesy of Curtis Justrabo Photography: https://curtisjustrabophotography.pixieset.com/urbanrootsdinner2018/