FARMACIE 3.0 | our charity partner: Fresh Roots Founder Profile [Ilana]
There’s an element of trust necessary in taking leaps. There’s also a fair share of stomach flips and the occasional screaming-at-the-ocean session that seemingly make stepping into the unknown that much more bearable. Ilana Labow, co-Founder and Director of Fresh Roots, has had her fill of leaps; all which have laid out quite the path for herself and Fresh Roots.
Ilana’s curiosity around food being a grand connector and a source of conversation across cultures, religions and ways of life began while in Israel. Coming from a non-foodie family in the US, and landing in a program with a mentor committed to using urban agriculture to facilitate peaceful connections, her mind was blown and her interest piqued when she saw community urban gardens in action; crossing cultural lines like never seen before.
After exploring urban farming and community development while working with Growing Power, and after a chance landing in Vancouver, Ilana found herself with her own hands in the dirt. She was fuelled by curiosity around how a backyard gardening project could impact a community as much as she was looking to do some personal healing reconnect with the people around her. It was a personal exploration that expanded into a journey into the gardens and systems of the Vancouver food community.
What Fresh Roots has provided to Vancouver to date can be summed up in one word: access. The gardens and markets not only create the opportunity for locally grown, organic food to be consumed by a more broad slice of Vancouver’s population, but provide access to experiences. They’re changing the game in the city’s approach to education, are connecting communities across cultures and generations and are a space for people—educators, students, Fresh Roots team members and community members alike—to experience a true connection to themselves and their food.
From Ilana’s perspective, seeing Fresh Roots grow into what it is today has been an act of passion, of trust and of constantly saying ‘yes’ to opportunities that make her heart sing. The next chapters in the Fresh Roots story are slowly unfolding and along with that, so is Ilana’s understanding of what it takes to bring the team’s vision to life.
“It’s an act of willingness to take a risk to follow a dream, and to ask for support and guidance along the way,” she notes. “With that, miracles can happen.”