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Urban Roots London Named Community Impact Award Recipient at the 2019 Pillar Community Innovation Awards

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Urban Roots London Named Community Impact Award Recipient at the 2019 Pillar Community Innovation Awards

Urban Roots London Named Community Impact Award Recipient at the 2019 Pillar Community Innovation Awards

The story of Urban Roots London is unfolding in the midst of a broader story. The story of our time is one of crisis, but it is also one of solutions. We’ve all heard from people, organizations, and governments across the world, including right here in the City of London, that we are facing a climate crisis. That is staring us in the face. But there is another crisis which doesn’t get as much attention. Looking around the room at all of the individuals and organizations represented at Pillar Non-Profit Network’s Community Innovation Awards and watching the stories of the 12 finalists we might overlook it. Yet the identity politics and partisanship that divide us and the anxiety, depression, and isolation that afflict us – especially our youth – tell the story of the community crisis our society is experiencing as well.

Imagine for a moment that both of these crises could be solved through collective, intentional action. That’s exactly what Urban Roots London is doing. When the organization’s four founding members, Heather Bracken, Graham Bracken, Richie Bloomfield, and Jeremy Horrell approached me toward the end of their first season about joining the team as member of the Board of Directors, I absolutely couldn’t resist. By revitalizing underused land within the City of London to grow beautiful, sustainable, nutritious produce and distribute that food to Londoners through its Model of Thirds – 33% donations to community development partners, 33% affordable rates to food-based social enterprise partners and neighbours at farm gate markets, and 33% market rates to amazing local restaurants – Urban Roots is reconnecting Londoners with where their food comes from and with each other. Bringing food production and distribution into our own greenspaces and backyards, using bio-intensive, regenerative farming practices, and focusing on sustainability over profits all have real impacts on our carbon footprint; meanwhile, volunteerism, service over self, labouring for a common purpose, agricultural and environmental education, connecting with nature, and sharing a meal that is healthy for us and our environment with family, friends, and neighbours each bring our community closer together, strengthening individual and collective resiliency and well-being.

For its work finding creative and collaborative solutions to these two crises over the last three years, Urban Roots London was celebrated at the Pillar Community Innovation Awards as the Community Impact Award recipient! As part of that recognition, Urban Roots was awarded $2000 to donate to a charity of its choice. It was fitting that Urban Roots decided to share its recognition with its two main community development partners over the past two seasons, Crouch Neighbourhood Resource Centre and My Sister’s Place – each will receive a $1000 donation from Pillar on Urban Roots’ behalf!

It’s been a blessing to have the support and sponsorship of Lerners LLP for each of Urban Roots’ first three seasons, in addition to the support from all of our incredible volunteers, supporters, donors, and sponsors over the years. Thank you to Pillar for fostering and celebrating innovative work in our City seeking to find solutions to the climate crisis and the community crisis we are experiencing. Thank you to the City of London and the London Environmental Network for their support and encouragement, and to Urban Roots’ restaurant and social enterprise partners for trusting us and investing in our mission by purchasing our food, and to Thames Valley District School Board, the London Christian Elementary and Secondary School, Growing Chefs and others for bringing your students and youth onto the farm for educational and inspirational field trips, and especially to our community development partners, Crouch, My Sister’s Place, the London Food Bank, the London Vegan Food Bank and others, who ensure that the people in our community most in need have the dignity of access to beautiful, nutritious, sustainable food. And congratulations to all of the other finalists and award recipients – London Food Coalition (Innovation), Patricia Runciman, LifeSpin Volunteer (Leadership), RollUP Solutions Inc. (Collaboration), and 519 Pursuit (Community Choice)!

As Urban Roots heads into it’s fourth season, we are seeking board members to help grow the organization’s impact, volunteers to join our team, and investment from our community to achieve our 2020 goal of purchasing land to establish permanence and stability, rooting ourselves firmly in the community and create an urban agriculture hub in London from which to grow and germinate to new sites. Please connect with Urban Roots on social media (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter) or by emailing to get involved or support, because we believe:

The roots of our food and the roots of our community grow best when they grow together.

Jacob Damstra