FAO: "It is more important than ever to recognize the need to support our food heroes - farmers and workers throughout the food system - who are making sure that food makes its way from farm to fork..."
Grow, Nourish, Sustain. Together.
The COVID-19 global health crisis has been a time to reflect on things we truly cherish and our most basic needs. These uncertain times have made many of us rekindle our appreciation for a thing that some take for granted and many go without: food.
UBC Chefs & the Farm
UBC Chefs and UBC Farm have been working together to ensure a strong connection between where the food is grown and the people who eat it. Farm to fork. The stories and experiences between the chefs, the farmer and the food are awe-inspiring. Here is some of quotes / stories from our chefs and farmers, tales of passion and connection on Grow, Nourish, Sustain... Together. Happy World Food Day!
Marika Dunham, Sales Manager, UBC Farm
Having chefs visit the farm, whether for a tour or to volunteer, establishes a connection to the land that would be hard to achieve otherwise. Having the opportunity to see for yourself how different the plants look in the field - how massive a broccoli plant is or how much work goes into trellising tomatoes - provides a context for food production that is not apparent when you open a delivered box of harvested and processed produce in your kitchen. Connecting chefs directly, to the land our food grows on, to the soil that nourishes us, and to the farmers that hold onto the knowledge and skills that make this all possible begins to reconnect us to the processes of our food system. This connection provides a place to start unpacking and reflecting on the complexities of our modern food system and how agriculture has the potential to be part the solution for climate change and social justice. In writing this, made me think of a quote that it often attributed to Paul Harvey: “Man – despite his artistic pretensions, his sophistication, and his many accomplishments – owes his existence to a six inch layer of top soil and the fact that it rains”. Which I find to be a much more concise version of what I am trying to say.
The sparknotes version of my quote: “Connecting chefs directly; to the land our food grows on, the soil that nourishes us, and the farmers that hold onto the knowledge and skills that make this possible year after year, begins the process of reconnecting us to our food system. Unpacking and reflecting on the complexities of our modern food system, whether as a chef, a farmer, or a consumer, is the first step in understanding our responsibility to the land and how farming has the potential to be part of the solution for climate change and social justice.”
There is also incredible value in having the support of chefs, from a sales perspective, to ensure the financial viability of our operation – since organic farming is more labour intensive and that comes with a higher price point – but that is a story for another day...
Alex Pomeroy, Field Lead (Allium and Curcubits), UBC Farm
"I feel that if chefs are championing local food systems and production, it's important for them to get some dirt under their fingernails from time to time. It's also very beneficial to us as farmers, as it's through these conversations that we are kept up to date on what those folks in the culinary world need from us. They can keep us aware of shifting trends."
Brad Vigue, Executive Chef, Residence Dining
"Visiting UBC Farm, I was reminded of the unparalleled quality of the products produced. We walked through the herb garden tasting things such as Sorel & Anise that had such intense flavour that it felt like I was tasting them again for the first time. I was also humbled & impressed by the obvious passion that the team members put into their roles at the farm."
Johnny Bridge, RSE, Sous Chef, Residence Dining, Gather
"The UBC Farm is one of my favourite parts of this job! The importance of knowing where the food comes from is front and center for the culinary team. Having our source for organic produce be so close to our kitchens and so aligned with our Food Visions and Values really is every chef's dream. I’m always thankful for the chances I get to walk down to the fields, get my hands in the dirt and experience the farm fare first hand.
Darren Clay, Sous Chef, Open Kitchen
"As a chef it is very easy to spend all your time in the kitchen, prepping, preparing and serving food. I was fortunate to make time in my schedule to break out of my routine and spend some time getting my hands dirty, literally on UBC Farm. It is an incredibly inspiring experience seeing the hard work the farm staff do and the delicious bounty that come from that. It gets me very excited to get back in the kitchen and work with these incredible products."
Amanda Rehel, Sous Chef, Residence Chef, Feast
"Farm to fork has always been very important to me throughout my career. Coming to UBC where the core Visions and Values align with my personal beliefs has been an amazing experience. During my first few weeks on campus, I had the privilege of spending time on the farm, getting a first hand opportunity to see where our very own vegetables come from and the wonderful team who makes it all happen. Translating this into the story of the foods provided to our guests is a truly unique opportunity to really connect our guests with where their food comes from. Us! Not only does UBC provide nutritious meals prepared from scratch but we grow our own food source as well. Being hands-on during harvest and seeing this beautiful produce go from soil to plates we are proud to present really is a chef's dream."
Jeremy Scott, Executive Chef, Scholar's Catering, Retail & Restaurants
"My first experience participating in a harvest at the UBC Farm was back in June of 2019. After introductions and a brief meeting with the UBC Farm team, we made our way out to the fields. Armed with a knife and a tote bin, I began to harvest my row of beautiful spinach. I was surprised at the amount of work it took to hand harvest and pick through the spinach. It certainly has given me a better appreciation for what goes into growing and harvesting food by hand. After I had finished harvesting the spinach, I then moved on to begin harvesting kale, making sure to only harvest the leaves that were ready to be picked, leaving the others to continue to grow to be harvest later. By the end of the day, having harvested spinach and kale, my knees and lower back were a bit sore, giving me even better perspective on what the team at the farm go through on a daily basis. As a Chef, I feel very fortunate that a farm is within walking distance from our kitchen. Not only does this support local grower, it also reduces our carbon footprint. This experience also made me realize the importance of lowering food waste. Having to harvest produce by hand, gave me a better sense of the hard work and dedication required to serve food from the farm to our plates. We often take these items for granted as they are readily available to us. I encourage everyone who has the opportunity too take the time to experience a harvest to gain a better appreciation for their food. In the current climate, it has never been more important to support local farms, growers, purveyors and business now more then ever. By doing so, we can help to ensure that these businesses are around in the future."
Andy Chan, Executive Sous Chef, Retail Operations & Restaurants
"One of the perks of being a chef at UBC is having a 24 hectare farm 1.5km away from your kitchen. For the last 3 years, we had the privilege to participate in harvesting at UBC Farm. It was an eye opening and great learning experience, not going to lie, it’s a very dirty, backbreaking and tough job. It was rewarding that the vegetables and herbs were so fresh and had so much flavour when picked at their peak of ripeness, its next level to the supermarket stuff. All UBC Farm produce are grown organically, we sampled different types of lettuce straight off the field. This experience made me realized all the hard work in the growing of the produce before reaching our kitchens. From then on, I am always mindful of using all parts of any farm fresh ingredient to minimize wastage."
Eric Meyer, Sous Chef, Scholar's Catering
"I have been with UBC at Scholar’s Catering for 6 years and cooked for 20 years. After many years in the industry running restaurants, cooking for movie and television productions and multiple catering operations, it was not until now that I truly realized the importance of farming and local food. I have not been fortunate enough to be part of a harvest yet but because of that I am able to use the beautiful fresh food that comes from our very own farm and many other local farms. We have catered numerous events at farm, the ancestral territory of the Musqueam people, that have allowed us to use this land for such bountiful fresh and flavourful foods. As a chef, our ingredients come from many suppliers but when we are able to access ingredients from our very own farm, just minutes away where we know how the food was grown organically and harvested by hand. The quality of the UBC Farm ingredients is so amazing, it makes us proud to shout it out on our labels. At the end of the day, the benefits of eating local are endless, the greatest being the connection between you and your food. It’s scary to think how removed we have become from our food; many of us eat foods and never knowing if they were grown from a plant, tree, shrub or bush. By supporting local farmers today, you are ensuring that there will be local farms in your community tomorrow."