The Culinary Arts and Farm Education Program connects, inspires, and empowers community members.
The Culinary Arts and Farm Education (CAFE) Program is a free, once-a-week program that spans several seasons. It provides access to healthy food, outdoor activities, sustainable farming skills, cooking skills, life skills, and direct connections to meaningful employment. We also offer a series of industry-relevant service training certificates such as FoodSafe, Fire Suppression, and Farm Safety.
Our program is geared towards community members who are high functioning but are experiencing barriers to employment related to mental health challenges and related life circumstances. We work with participants individually to assess when and how they are ready for employment and facilitate entry into employment through a paid internship program made possible by local employers in the area. The CAFE Program is run out The Start Fresh Kitchen and out of The Start Fresh Farm, a 1/2 acre piece of donated farm land just outside the city.
A long-term goal for the program is for it to become at least partially self-funded through the sale of produce grown on the Start Fresh Farm to local businesses in the food industry.
What We Do:
Provide employment and life skills training - Our chefs and staff have worked collaboratively with our community partners to craft a curriculum that teaches participants the basics of cooking and farming, while helping them to practice important life skills such as stress management and teamwork.
Build a sense of community - One of our central aims is to decrease the social isolation felt by community members facing barriers to employment. The long-term nature of our program ensures that participants build trust and community amongst themselves and with staff. It is of utmost importance that participants feel like they are coming to a safe and supportive space each time they attend the program.
Connect people to meaningful employment - Once participants have passed through the Level 1 module of the course, they can be paired to an employment opportunity that suits their particular needs and talents. 'Meaningful' means that it should be a position they feel passionate about holding and one which contributes to their overall wellbeing.