Our 2nd Annual Grey Bruce Fall Food Gathering on September 20th brought together food system players to connect, collaborate, share, and learn.
The Grey Bruce Sustainability Network and the Food Security Action Group of the Poverty Task Force focused this year’s event on the intersections between food, mental health, and the environment.
People with mental health experiences are members of our family and community therefore we all have a role to play in mental health. “The problem is the problem – not the person.” shared Dave Roy of CMHA-Grey Bruce. “We need to respect, validate and listen to people.”
It is important that people come to our community food hubs and know that they have been heard. While Dave Roy and Alison Govier shared with us Where to Begin with mental health services and programs in Grey Bruce – they also helped to “de-expert” our roles.
A rapid fire sharing sessions highlighted the work of several community food centres – Bruce Botanical Gardens in Ripley, The Salvation’s Army’s Community Hub in Wiarton and the Walkerton & District Food Bank. Creative and practical ideas were shared on second harvesting, engagement with super markets, fresh food purchase and distribution; food/plant education, local stewardship of plants and community engagement.
The afternoon session was a hands-on visit to the CMHA-GB Community Food Forest and Gardens in Owen Sound. The Food Forest has been a community hub for 4 years. It includes a fruit orchard, some 130 raised garden beds for vegetables, herbs and other edible plants and a new edible labyrinth. CMHA Grey Bruce employs 12 clients as gardeners and they help plant, tend and harvest the crops. The fruit and vegetables are sold at local markets and used in a community brunch program that provides nutritional meals to about 60 people daily, Monday to Friday. A special thank you to Teresa Pearson and Thomas Dean for the educational tour and our lunch which was provided by their Fresh Roots Cafe and Catering with produce from the gardens.
The Poverty Task Force’s 2018 Election Education campaign was shared and members were encouraged to ensure food security-related data captured in From Bandaids-to-Bridges: moving forward with Community Food Centres is raised with municipal candidates. The creation of a new Agri-Asset Map for Grey County now includes the the Grey Bruce Food Security Assets data and people are encouraged to ensure they are on the map!
A long list of collaborative ideas were generated. The final commentary for the day centered on the need and support for these kinds of gatherings even more often than once-a-year. It was noted that the Food Security Action Group of the Poverty Task Force meets monthly and would be a good place for anyone interested in these issues to attend.