Respect, validation & listening: Fall Food Gathering 2018

Food Security and Mental Health
Alison Govier and Dave Roy from CMHA-GB shared with us mental health strategies, data, services and programs in Grey Bruce.

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.



Millions being poured into community health care

By Tracey Richardson, Sun Times, Owen Sound

Thursday, September 26, 2013 4:19:39 EDT PM

GREY-BRUCE – The province is making good on its word to put more resources into community-based health care to the tune of about $28 million for the South West LHIN.

The funding will translate into a 5% increase in base funding every year for programs like Home First, which connects elderly people admitted to hospital with 24 hour in-home support upon discharge, the new Southwestern Ontario Aboriginal Health Access Centre in Owen Sound, adult day programs and the Canadian Mental Health Association. Most of the new spending targets seniors and others with complex health needs, including those living with serious mental health issues and addictions. The ultimate goal of beefing up the programs is to cut down on hospital stays and ER visits by supporting people at home.

“This is brand new funding coming into the system,” said Michael Barrett, CEO of the South West LHIN. The LHIN board discussed the new money at its monthly board meeting Wednesday, which was held in Lion’s Head.

Almost $21 million will go into annual base funding and another $7.4 million is for one-time funding.

The government has made it clear, Barrett said, that any increased health care spending will go into the community and not hospitals. Most hospitals are no longer given an increase in annual funding, although small hospitals still get a 1% annual increase.

The intentional shift, Barrett said, “is to ensure people get care where they want it, and people want their care at home. We have fine hospitals within the South West LHIN that provide good acute care, but people do want to be at home, and this funding allows them to get that through additional home care supports.”

The Community Care Access Centre (CCAC) is the biggest single recipient of the new funding. More than $5 million alone will go the CCAC every year now to cut the wait time for personal support services for people with complex needs down to five days.

“We want to make sure that the CCAC has the ability to continue to deliver on their responsibilities, one of which is ensuring a five-day wait time for home care,” Barrett said.

The South West CCAC serves about 60,000 clients each year, with about 91% of those leaving hospital getting their first home visit within five days. The new funding is expected to improve that number.

The LHIN is also directing one-time funding to some of the following:

– 150 more knee replacements and 2,000 more hours of MRI scans.

– Improving Healthline (

– adult day programs for the brain injured.

– exercise and falls prevention classes and other falls prevention initiatives.

In response to a question from a LHIN board member about the wage discrepancies in community based care — much it is provided by personal services workers and some of it by volunteers — Barrett said the government recognizes the discrepancy but that there is no current plan to address it.

CMHA gardens look to the community

By Tracey Richardson, Sun Times, Owen Sound

Wednesday, July 10, 2013 4:35:13 EDT PM

OWEN SOUND – The Canadian Mental Health Association wants to share its bounty.

Vegetable gardens for its Union Place drop-in centre brunch program in Owen Sound have been prolific since their inception four or five years ago, and now members of the community can take over an additional garden bed for their own use.

This year, three members of the community have asked for and been given a bed to grow and tend their own vegetables at the St. George’s tennis courts alongside the Union Place gardens. The beds are enclosed in a wood structure and are about a metre wide and two metres in length. Lettuce, kale, tomatoes, beans, pumpkins, peas, strawberries, eggplant and rhubarb spill out from the containers.

Site coordinator Teresa Pearson said she and CMHA executive director Claude Anderson batted around the idea months ago about letting people from the general community take on some beds for their own use.

“One of the things we’ve talked about is that larger concept of a community garden, and how it becomes people from all walks of life, whether it’s seniors who have farmed or gardened their whole life and who are now in an apartment building and don’t have a garden plot, but would love to, or whether it’s people who would like to garden on our team but we’re full. What about giving them a garden bed?”

The CMHA hires 10 people to work a few hours a week in gardens located at St. George’s, United Way, and in the snack gardens along the east harbour wall. The produce goes to the drop-in centre’s brunch program, which is run every morning from Monday to Friday. Nothing is wasted. There are three freezers, and extra produce gets made into salsa and sauces, or kitchen and garden workers take home anything that’s left.

But there’s room to grow, Pearson says. There are 63 beds at St. George’s, 19 at United Way and four along the harbour. Community members who sign on for a garden bed at St. George’s can use the tools, water, and even expertise the CMHA brings in on a regular basis from the Master Gardeners of Grey County, who donate some of their time.

Union Place began its brunch program a few years ago, and it’s become a popular gathering place for people in need of help and a nutritious meal.

“If they have a serious mental health illness, often times they’ll go on to become members, but they needed to first come and check out the space and see what it’s all about, and get their life settled,” Pearson said. “Some people come every day because they love the social contact. It’s very nutritious meals that are provided. They love the meals, they love the contact, they’ll sit and read the paper and then be on their way for the day.”

If they want help, they can get referrals from Pearson, but it’s up to them.

“I think if you offer a program to the community, the people that need it and want to come will come, and I think it’s really important that there’s no stigmatization. Everyone is welcome.”

Help also comes in the form of employment, both in the gardens and the kitchen.

For some of them, Pearson said it’s the first job they’ve had in years. It gives them employable skills and encourages them “to remember what is great about them.”

Tending the gardens allows them also to see the full circle of food production, from planting to consuming, Pearson said.

Randy Sillars tends a garden bed for the program, after being referred by his addictions counsellor. He said he’s always enjoyed gardening, and his garden container bears proof of this. Only positive things come from gardening, he said. “It’s therapeutic, it’s not hurting anyone and the end result is great because other people benefit.”

He also likes being busy, he said, and “it gives me a purpose.”

Pearson said she has no idea how popular the community garden concept might become.

“I would love to eventually see that really grow into literally people from all walks of life, all ages, gardening together, sharing their stories, being a support to each other.”

The snack gardens along the harbour walkway are for anyone to scoop vegetables from. There are tomatoes in them, carrots, radishes as big around as golf balls, snow peas and beans. Signs will soon go up alerting people to the fact that they’re community snack gardens, and will also tell people to call Pearson if they’d like to tend their own garden.

The garden program receives help from the United Way, Community Foundation Grey Bruce, the city and workers from Union Gas and Barry’s Construction have built many of the wood containers. Seeds and other supplies are donated or provided at cost by Annan-Way Nursery.

Pearson can be contacted at 519-371-3642, ext 184.