These Friendly Vegans Need Your Help

Party for a student-run, non-profit, sustainable cause.

March 16, 2018

By Alyssa Hirose

The friendly faces at UBC Sprouts know that sometimes, vegans get a bad rap. “There’s this stereotype of scary vegans who will shame you,” laughs Store Coordinator Sarah Siska. “That’s absolutely not what we’re about.” In fact, Sprouts’ initiatives—cooking workshops, healthy meals and accessible organic produce—welcome all kinds of people, no strings attached. Their two cafés, Sprouts and Seedlings, have served raw, vegan and vegetarian cuisine since 2004—that is, until two years ago, when Sprouts Café was forced out of the Student Union Building due to extensive renovations. This fall, the café is finally reopening…but not without the help of a generous community.

“It’s fantastic that we have this new space, and it’s guaranteed,” says Siska, “but we have to furnish it.” An industrial fridge and steamers are just a few of the items on the café’s list, but being a 100-percent volunteer and student-run organization, they don’t have the funds to spare. For Sprouts executive board members, raising food prices isn’t an option: “One of our mandates is to try to be as accessible as possible, and not exclude anyone from a healthy meal if they want one,” Siska says. So club president, Meryn Corkery, along with store coordinators Siska and Sophia Kontou, came up with a different solution: a crowdfunding campaign.

Sprouts’ 25 executives and 150 volunteers work between five to 20 hours per week to deliver healthy, sustainable food systems. (Photo: Sprouts.)

On Wednesday, March 21, Sprouts will kick off their crowdfunding campaign with a launch party at the Old Barn Community Centre on UBC Campus where there will be food, drinks, a silent auction and guest speakers. By using the Wayblaze platform to host their campaign, Siska, Corkery and Kontou are hoping to follow in the footsteps of other local crowdfunded businesses (Nada used the same online platform to generate buzz and support for their zero-waste grocery store).

And while Sprouts has set a whopping $10,000 goal, they’re looking for more than just cash. “We’re looking for monetary donations, but we also want to promote a circular economy,” says Siska, so Sprouts is asking local businesses to donate silent auction prizes and gently used kitchen equipment. “We’re trying to [fundraise] in the most low-impact and sustainable way possible.” So far, the organization has received donations from Tality Kombucha, Café Etico, Tempea Natural Foods, Brush Naked Toothbrush Company and many more. “The support we’ve gotten from the community so far has been incredible,” says Siska.

After the initial launch on Wednesday, Sprouts will have just three months to reach their $10,000 goal. Fitting with the initiative’s university home, Sprouts looks at every obstacle as a chance for growth. “We’re all students and we’re learning as we’re going,” says Siska, “but as we reach out, people seem to be really excited that there are groups of young people that are trying to do this.”


UBC Sprouts Crowdfunding Launch Party

Wednesday, March 21 (6 to 8:30 p.m.)
Old Barn Community Centre
6308 Thunderbird Blvd, Vancouver

This event will take place on the traditional, ancestral and unceded territory of the hən̓q̓əmin̓əm̓ speaking xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam) people.

 

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