The unique food forest program of the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) Grey Bruce Branch is in the running for a national competition, with finalists eligible for up to $100,000.
The edible forest project has been named as a candidate in the Aviva Community Fund, which will invest $1 million in charitable community initiatives across Canada.
Finalists are chosen based on the number of votes received by the public. You can do your part to help CMHA Grey Bruce by registering and voting at VoteforCMHAFoodForest.ca between now and Oct. 28, 2016.
What is the CMHA Grey Bruce Food Forest?
The food forest has been a community hub for three years already. It includes a fruit orchard and 70 raised garden beds for vegetables, herbs and other edible plants. CMHA Grey Bruce employs 12 clients as gardeners and 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.
“I love gardening. It gives me a purpose, gives me exercise and every year I learn more about growing my own food,” said gardener Pat Reain. “I especially want to thank CMHA for giving me and all the workers at the food forest a job.”
CMHA Grey Bruce made a recent pitch to local elected officials to expand the project. “There are a handful of food forests in Canada. This would put Owen Sound among the leaders in community-based food security and wellness,” Teresa Pearson, program manager at CMHA Grey Bruce, told local officials recently.
If successful for an Aviva Community Fund grant, the branch will use the money to get a kickstart on implementing a three-year plan which includes hiring a horticulturalist, adding pathways, building a storage shed and herb-drying station, putting up new fencing to enclose the orchard, installing washrooms for seasonal use and building additional parking.
Help CMHA Grey Bruce expand its food forest. Register today and cast all 18 votes at once at VoteforCMHAFoodForest.ca. Voting closes Oct. 28, 2016.
The Aviva Community will announce finalists on Nov. 7, 2016 and winners on Dec. 6, 2016