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Fred UnLEEshed: Sept. 19, 2017

Fred Lee highlights Fresh Roots, the Pacific Autism Network and Chinatown BBQ

FARM TO SCHOOL: Combining urban agriculture, local food and education, Fresh Roots is an innovative program seeded by three friends who have a passion for gardening. In 2009, Gray Oron, Ilana Labow and Marc Schutzbank wondered how much food they could grow for their friends and East Vancouver neighbours. A lot, it turns out. Their backyard experiment was soon full of vegetables, and Fresh Roots was founded. Soon, more gardens sprouted. One shared a fence with a local elementary school garden that had grown into disrepair. The principal asked the three friends if they might be able to help. They would eventually transform the grounds into an edible schoolyard and educational farm enabling hands-on lessons on farming, food and nutrition. Today, the educational farms are located in three school districts — Vancouver, Delta and Coquitlam — with more than 5,000 students visiting Fresh Roots fields annually. The produce grown is sold to school cafeterias, restaurants and local families. In the summer, Fresh Roots employs high school students to garden and sell the food at farmers’ markets. Fresh Roots, which recently earned charitable status, hosted its Schoolyard Harvest Fundraising Dinner at David Thompson high school to raise awareness and support for the school market gardens. David Thompson is home to one of the educational gardens.

GOLFING FOR KIDS: 200 influential women and media personalities came together for Wendy Lisogar-Cocchia’s 28th Women’s Media Golf Tournament. Under sunny skies, 144 players took to the greens to raise some green. The day got off to a good start when RBC presented Lisogar-Cocchia with a cheque for $40,000. The generosity would flow beyond the 18 holes. An additional 60 guests turned up for the post-event fundraising dinner at Lisogar-Cocchia’s C Prime Modern Italian Steak and Wine Restaurant. Fronted by Global TV’s Lynn Colliar, the evening featured a sumptuous buffet and more fundraising games. Yours truly orchestrated the live auction of one-of-a-kind experiences. The buying frenzy, along with an outright call for cash donations, resulted in a $123,000 day for the Pacific Autism Family Network — a $28-million Centre of Excellence that opened in Richmond last November supporting individuals with autism spectrum disorder and their families. Since its inception, the Women’s Media Golf Tournament has raised more than $3.5 million for children with special needs. The Courier was a sponsor of this year’s festivities.

BBQ QUEEN: Carol Lee’s much-anticipated Chinatown BBQ is about to open for business. Friends and family members recently gathered in Chinatown for a preview of Lee’s latest effort to preserve the historic neighbourhood, one business at a time. On the heels of her Chinatown Vintage and Curios thrift shop opening, Lee has turned her attention to her first restaurant venture across the street on East Pender. Chinatown BBQ is a Cantonese-style barbecue meat shop reminiscent of the many meat shops that dotted the historic neighbourhood during its heyday. Barbecue duck and pork hung proudly in the window. The sound of meat cleavers chopping away in the glassed-in kitchen greeted guests. And, if the faces behind the counter look familiar, you were a frequent visitor to Chinatown. Lee has enlisted the culinary team from Daisy Garden (Kam Gok Yuen) to helm her kitchen. Known for its barbecue and Cantonese Cuisine, Daisy Garden was THE restaurant in Chinatown to get your fix of barbecue pork and duck, wonton noodles and congee, not to mention their famous salt baked chicken. Sadly, Daisy Garden went up in flames in 2015. Lee hopes her new restaurant and all the fond memories of family meals enjoyed in Chinatown will bring people back to the cultural district.

Hear Fred Mondays 8:20am on CBC Radio’s The Early Edition AM690 and 88.1FM; Email:; Twitter: @FredAboutTown

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