Fresh Roots Café and Catering provides a supportive setting where as many as 10 people with lived mental health experience work under the guidance of CMHA staff to learn cooking and catering skills. While many people living with a mental illness are typically excluded from the mainstream economy, participants in this CMHA program receive an income as they prepare nutritious foods, make and sell homemade jams and sauces from CMHA’s gardens and provide catering services to the community. The initiative was designed to build food skills, reduce social isolation, and increase access to healthy food, while connecting people to other community-based resources including health, legal, and housing services.
CMHA Grey Bruce manages garden programs along the Owen Sound waterfront (called Walk & Snack), at the United Way
and the Food Forest at St. George’s Park. The St. George’s Park location includes a fruit orchard, 118 raised garden beds
of which more than 40 are community beds. All three locations grow vegetables, herbs and other edible plants. The sites
provide several CMHA clients with rewarding employment and a means to develop new skills. The gardens are a place for the community to gather, garden, learn, share skills and stories in a safe and socially supportive environment. By growing and harvesting healthy food, the community helps protect and restore the local ecosystems, improves access to fresh, local food and a centre for wellness and learning.