About Building Roots

We Envision Vibrant, Resilient Neighbourhoods.

Starting in 2013 as a progressive grassroots social venture, Building Roots was initially founded in response to a lack of access to fresh food and agricultural growing space across Toronto.

We believe that inadequate food systems are a by-product of greater social issues within these communities. Without addressing the need to heal our roots, we cannot address poverty, social isolation and inadequate civil investment.

Shifting our focus in response to these issues–which became even more glaring during the pandemic–Building Roots and community members began to build resources for social cohesion and co-create the targeted development of community tools.

Among a large list of “firsts,” we created Canada’s first ever fresh food market operating from a shipping container out of a parking lot. The news story has since been seen on CBC, CTV, the Globe & Mail and the National Post.

Since 2013, this vision has helped us co-create innovative projects providing fresh food access, meaningful engagement, and the transformation of communities.

In 2019, we launched a charity to expand this work, namely the Growing Neighbourhoods Foundation.

Covid-19 brought with it immense challenges. Through participating in, and bearing witness to, the Moss Park and Downtown East community, we’ve seen people come together to take care of one another through collaboration, recovery, participation, connection, and healing.

The community we work with is comprised primarily of folks who are deeply impacted by poverty, food insecurity, and associated social determinants of health.

We work with Black folks, Indigenous peoples, and People of Colour, seniors, folks living in isolation and people with accessibility barriers to accessing food and other programming. Through our programming, advocacy, and outreach, we partner with the community through a 360 degree community-based approach, centering around community voices, skills, and capacities. While the core of our programming is for folks from marginalized backgrounds, we recognize and encourage anybody and everybody to participate.

Board Members

Monique Kavanagh20230427134649

Monique Kavanagh

She/Her | Board Chair
Verlia Stephens20230427134443

Verlia Stephens

She/Her | Community Chair
Jessica van der Vooren20230427133356

Jessica van der Vooren

She/Her | Treasurer
Lorraine Lam20230906151310

Lorraine Lam

She/Her | Board Member At Large

Meet The Team

Amy Rumbolt20210614153035

Amy Rumbolt

She/Her | Director of Community Engagement
Kate Hamilton20210614153522

Kate Hamilton

She/Her | Manager, Urban Agriculture & Skills Development
Maria Uribe20220920191254

Maria Uribe

She/Her | Marketing & Administrative Coordinator
Caroline Clair20221123131711

Caroline Clair

She/Her | Executive Director
Kelly Lawless20230413130003

Kelly Lawless

She/Her/Her's | Outreach Coordinator
Charles Chiu20230413131734

Charles Chiu

He/Him | Director of Development & Communications
Ella Lightstone20240516151718

Ella Lightstone

She/Her | Manager, Food Programs
Ishaaq Olwi20240516152738

Ishaaq Olwi

He/Him | Coordinator, Food Programs


Darcy Higgins20210614152535

Darcy Higgins

He/Him They/Them | Founding Partner | Board Member At Large
Lisa Kates20210614151246

Lisa Kates

She/Her | Founding Partner | Board Member At Large
+ Many more inspiring Volunteers, Community Partners & Participants

Our Projects

Moss Park Coalition20220316190756
Coffee & Conversations20220316185050
Our Mission

To foster a community-led environment  which will enable socially cohesive communities. We do this through our programming, community partners, participation opportunities and constantly listening as allies.

Read Our Blog for More Info

Our Vision

We envision Vibrant & Resilient neighbourhoods. A vision which engages the community through a spread of inclusive tools & services.

Developing new connections between neighbours, increasing the use of public spaces, and providing increased access to fresh, diverse & affordable foods.

Donate to the Vision

How do we do it?

Our team uses an asset-based community development approach, creating impact that punches beyond our weight. Our team creates successful partnerships with public agencies, groups and businesses while fostering resident leadership, job creation and volunteerism.

Directly supported by community partners, residents, allies and a few kind funders, we bring the neighbourhood voices to the forefront.