Putting down roots
October 16, 2012
There’s nothing like the smell of freshly-brewed coffee. It’s an aroma that can transport you to distant places. The wafting scent can fill your senses with hints of the soil where each bean was grown, plucked, and then dried in the sub-tropical sun. For a new Old East café, these lands include such South American countries like Guatemala. If the fair-trade brew isn’t enough to spark your senses to life, the fresh pastries and artisan bread will coax you to life. The Root Cellar Organic Café and Bakery is a playground for the senses where brilliant aromas, unique artwork, great music, succulent tastes and a warm welcome are always on the menu.
Located just east of Adelaide on Dundas Street in London, The Root Cellar is the brainchild of Ellie Cook ’12 (Social Justice and Peace Studies/English), student Jen Pastorius (Social Justice and Peace Studies/World Religion and Cultures) along with a small group of owners (the group which includes Jeff Pastorius, Joel Pastorius, Aaron Lawrence, and Max Collin is an in-transition workers' co-op).
The menu is seasonal, organic and local, featuring different options daily. The Root Cellar is integrated with the local organic food distribution business On The Move Organics which enables the group to access our local organic produce, meat and dairy. The group's statement of intention gives you a sense of the passion in which the organization operates.
"We believe that food is political, that the choices we make about food--what we choose to eat and who we choose to support by doing so--resonate through our community, our economy, and our planet. At the foundation of this project is a commitment to invigorating our community, discovering the plentitude of our local foodshed, supporting sustainable agricultural practices, and working cooperatively."
One such, mouth-watering option which has quickly become a signature piece is the sausage roll. The organic, local (Aylmer) heritage sausage is blanketed with a freshly-baked bun fashioned with flour from Arva. Produce at the café has been sourced from local farmers including Hope Organics (an Amish farming collective) which not only ensures freshness, but also contributes to the local economy.
The eatery not only promises to be the only local, organic, bakery, juice bar and café in London, but is also positioning itself as a community hub where neighbors and students can converge. The group prides itself in being involved in the community and regularly gets to work helping to build the neighbourhood. A skill-share collective where participants can barter grassroots skills like knitting and dying textiles is in the works with the goal of starting the first series of workshops in November. “It is a great way to share and to regain control of skills that might be lost,” Pastorius notes. The Café also hosts community activism events further bringing neighbors together. Huron grad Meg Pirie is equally involved in running the skill share collective.
The group’s interest in organic food and fair-trade grew as organically as the produce they use. “I realized how very little I knew about the food I was consuming,” Pastorius admits. “It really snowballed from there with more and more investigation and learning.”
“I really want to help foster the food movement,” Cook proclaims. “Learning about food sovereignty and the control of the production, consumption and distribution is important. Ensuring sustainable and ethical food from production to consumption is a guiding philosophy here.” Clearly, experiences in the King’s Social Justice and Peace Studies program are being put to good use.
“This business is a great dialogue in what you can do after graduation,” the pair admits. “There is a variety of options for you with an SJPS degree, you can even starts your own business!”
Their passion for food and the systems by which it lands on our table is contagious and is as invigorating as a shot of espresso. Both Cook and Pastorius, with their collective partners, have created a place to “reinvigorate the conversation”; a conversation around food and community. And there is no better way to have a conversation than over a steaming mug of Guatemala’s finest.