Eat with Impact

“We can all become activists in the way we eat.”

This is the message that Danielle Prapavessis and Mischa Hamara, founders of Seed by Seed and two-time participants in The Natural Step's IMPACT! Sustainability Champions Training program, brought to 31 schools and community groups last summer as they cycled across Canada, from Victoria to St. John’s on their first speaking tour.

Danielle and Mischa’s passion led them to create a non-profit organization and educational partner that would deliver speeches and workshops to young people and teach them about sustainability, our food system, and food security. They have come a long way since they brought the outline of their plan to their first IMPACT! Sustainability Champions Training session in Ottawa in 2013.

IMPACT! is an initiative of The Natural Step Canada and The Cooperators. It builds the capacity of young leaders to act strategically to address the environmental, social, and economic challenges facing their communities. The program is presented with strategic core funding of The Co-operators and additional generous funding by the Ontario Trillium Foundation, Earth Day Canada’s Community Environment Fund, and Alterna Savings.

“Starting a non-profit was something I never thought I’d do in my life,” explains Danielle. “Just the structure and formality of it was daunting to me. Speaking the language of business was something I had never done before. It was really exciting to learn how to do that properly in an environment where I felt safe to ask questions.”

The decision for Seed by Seed to focus on elementary and high school age youth was deliberate and the reasons cited by Danielle and Mischa mirror those of The Natural Step in developing the IMPACT! program itself. According to Danielle, “Youth can be really powerful agents of change and they’re at a really impressionable age too. If they start caring about social justice environmental food issues when they’re young, that will hopefully carry on later in life.”

The pair found IMPACT! so valuable in helping them to prepare for their cross-country speaking tour, that they applied to attend a second session. They were welcomed back as experienced sustainability leaders and an inspiration to a whole new cohort of youth. They were invited to share their story—and a slideshow of photos from their cross-country tour—with 40 of their peers and over 100 leading community members who work on sustainability, social innovation, social enterprise, and entrepreneurship. 

“It’s amazing to be in a room with a bunch of other young people who are passionate about sustainability and improving the world. That energy is contagious. It becomes a great fuel to move you forward on your path, because all of a sudden you’re not alone, and there’s a group of people that you can lean on, and ask questions, and are there to support you, and they become your cheerleaders and your support group.”

Not only have Danielle and Mischa benefited from the IMPACT! trainings, but through the program they have also received expert one-on-one mentorship, free incubation space in HUB Ottawa’s social innovation co-working community, as well as two start-up grants from the IMPACT! Fund to help make Seed by Seed a reality.

“Getting that first grant helped our project financially,” claims Mischa, “but I think it had even more of a mental power to it, because it was like a stamp of approval, with someone saying, ‘I like your idea and I believe in you.’ ”

Now Danielle and Mischa are busy planning the next phase of Seed by Seed, developing a program that will be offered to students in Ottawa and Toronto. This year, rather than visiting as many schools as possible, this phase is about growing deep roots and long-lasting partnerships with local communities. Their work will be concentrated on two schools or community groups. They’ll help each define a local project that Seed by Seed can help them to plan and execute from conception to completion.

“Sometimes these issues seem so distant and untouchable,” Mischa explains, “but one of the beautiful things about food is that we all have a relationship with it, so it is a good point of entry for showing students how they are connected with broader sustainability issues.”

If you represent a school or community group and would like to connect with Seed by Seed, visit their website at

To learn more about the IMPACT! Sustainability Champions Training and to apply for an upcoming session, please visit Apply today to take your sustainability journey to the next level!