Hot chocolate, lights and art on the roof of the Nest

In celebration of the end of the first growing season on the rooftop garden of the AMS Nest, the Roots on the Roof (ROTR) club recently hosted their anticipated event “Lights on the Roof," a collective community art exhibition showcasing the endless ways in which people connect to food all over the world. 

First inaugurated in 2014, ROTR was created to manage the rooftop garden constructed on top of the Nest, complementing the larger goals of promoting greater food justice at UBC.

Held on Friday November 28, Lights on the Roof offered the opportunity for the ROTR club to unveil their collection of food stories, illustrating the various ways their members connect to food as well as displaying student-made artwork. Charmingly decorated with over 100 lanterns, including flowers, bees and jars, the event featured a wide range of activities for students and community members to participate in and reflect on how they connect to the garden space from creative festival activities, to lantern exhibits. Of particular note were the four activity booths set up around the garden, ranging from a Food Critter station to a Bee Happy station.

As part of a “What Floats your Boat?” station, event goers were encouraged to write their thoughts and future vision for the garden on small folded origami boats and set them afloat in a ponds of water delicately illuminated by lights underneath. The beautiful station was decorated by handmade glass and paper lanterns consisting of a kaleidoscope of colours, lending a dreamy, wistful atmosphere to the garden. 

In a similar spirit, ROTR club members in the Plant a Food Wish station encouraged on-goers to celebrate their fondest food memories by describing a time they connected with friends and family over food and adding it to the trails of lights in the garden. Visitors would write down their memory on a piece of paper and clip them to the various decorated trails intersecting the main garden plot, weaving together all food stories into a whole in a communal art piece.

In addition to the stunning communal artwork, another notable hotspot was the Friendly Food Critter station, where students were able to craft their own food animals using a wide selection of fresh fruit and marshmallows. From porcupines to cats, the options were endless. You could not help but crack a smile in attempting to fashion a funky hedgehog out of wooden sticks, watermelon, grapes and pears. 

With the twinkling lights, communal artwork and feel-good atmosphere which was perfectly finished off by a hot chocolate and great company, Lights on the Roof not only helped to raise awareness about the ROTR club, but also showed the strong and cohesive senses of community central to the club. More than striving to grow sustainably farmed and nutritious food, the ROTR club continues to explore and reflect on ways to bring people together through storytelling and food conversation.