A note from Sarah...the wisdom of roots

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RootsI’ve been thinking a lot about roots lately… specifically, those of vascular plants. Roots are incredible plant organs that are so connected to the world around them. Roots create nourishing environments by adapting and contributing to the spaces around them. Roots sense what’s coming next, help others flourish and are the reason we gain so many nutrients from each bite of good food. As roots of our favourite veggies start to grow in many directions for the season, I am too, and I wanted to write you all a personal note of my growth plans.


You might be wondering why I’ve been thinking about these sub-terrestrial organs. Well, I’ve been thinking about roots for a few reasons. One reason is because I am going to be working with roots a lot in the next little while. This summer, I will be working with roots and shoots of many plants at The New Farm and next year I will be joining the Isaac Agroecology Lab at the University of Toronto for a Master’s in Science. This means that over the summer I will be away from my desk at Meal Exchange and will be back part-time in the Fall!   

The second reason I’ve been thinking about roots is because as I transition from being a full-time MX staff,  I’ve been reflecting on the impact that Meal Exchange has had on my life. Through my internal reflections and conversations with those who have been impacted by MX, I have found roots a worthy metaphor for the depth, connection and nourishment that Meal Exchange brings to this world.


Roots grow wide, far beyond the visible portion of the tree. This is similar to the wide-reaching impact that Meal Exchange has far beyond the boundaries of our downtown office or a campus event. During my time at Meal Exchange, I have been able to visit over 30 of our Chapter campuses and connect with the most incredible changemakers in Canada. Meal Exchange has connected me to passionate students from St. John’s Newfoundland to Vancouver Island, and communities from N.W.T. to Hawaii! Meal Exchange roots are full of inspiration, resources and programs that create connections between thousands of incredible people.


Roots grow deep and break new ground. Meal Exchange’s programs, people and perspective on learning have had a profound impact on my life. MX is an organization that fosters curiosity, multiple perspectives and bold humility which have created conditions for some of the most important conversations of my life. From conversations with MX students in a garden, to learning from an elder at the Real Food Challenge B.C. Retreat, to sitting down with new friends at the National Student Food Summit, Meal Exchange has created conditions for me and so many others to feel welcome to share, question and grow.


Roots contribute to nourishing plants and fruits.  I have made countless friendships through my work with Meal Exchange and have seen each of them be similarly supported by MX and share that support with others. In my four years working with MX, I’ve seen ideas for projects become real. I’ve seen those projects become models to inspire others and contribute to a greater impact than ever imagined.  Together, we have created beautiful fruits in the shape of Farmers’ Markets, gardens, volunteer events, ground-breaking campus food procurement policy change and new communities around good food for all.

Grou HugAt Meal Exchange, we are able to create the change we need to see in the world. We are shifting systems and building new ones. We are making mistakes and we’re learning from them. We are hearing new voices and making new friends. We are being the people we want to be, more and more each day.

I feel so grateful to be connected in the breadth, depth and nourishment of the Meal Exchange root-web. This summer, I’ll be working more closely with these physical, sub-terranean organs, but I know that I will still (and always) be connected to the incredible work of Meal Exchange and I hope you know that you will too. To the Meal Exchange network, I hope you know that I’m rooting for you!

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Guest Monday, 23 October 2017