Sean Brennan is the founder and head of the Brain Food Garden Project (BFGP). As a social entrepreneur, Sean embraces a rapidly growing field of therapeutic medical research and practices known as the “food as medicine” movement. More specifically, Sean is raising awareness of how anyone can improve his or her mental health through food and gardening. Sean uses BFGP to increase the understanding and dialogue about the effects of food holistically on psychological and physical health.
Until ten years ago, Sean was working as a fourth-generation restaurateur. He began his career as a host in his family's restaurant at the tender age of three. He has performed virtually every role in a restaurant imaginable, from dishwasher to front-of-house management. In the late 1990s, Sean ran MSB Creative Restaurant Consulting, while continuing to manage operations for various successful restaurant and hotel brands in New York City. He dedicated his professional life in that industry to his passion for amazing food and gracious service and was proud to be carrying on a family tradition.
Sean’s life changed in 2010, when he was diagnosed with clinical depression and later re-diagnosed with bipolar disorder. Given no choice, he altered the course of his life by redirecting his passions into the Brain Food Garden Project (BFGP).
In addition to BFGP, in recent years, Sean has been a student of Farm School NYC. In October of 2016, he graduated from The Howie T. Harp Advocacy Center (HTH), becoming a Mental Health “Peer” Advocate. Sean wishes for the Brain Food Garden Project to become a completely Peer-managed and operated not-for-profit organization. Sean returned to HTH in 2018 as a classroom facilitator developing a course, Feeding Our Mental Health. The curriculum includes units on the history of Food Justice, food as medicine, and skills for shopping and budgeting for healthier eating.
Sean enjoys serving as a guest speaker to raise public awareness of food, mental health issues and the benefits of the Peer approach. He has addressed psychiatric fellows at Columbia University, as well as addressed NYS Congressional leadership. He was named Spectrum NY1's "Person of the Week" for the Borough of Queens in May of 2017. Sean participated in a global forum as a "Dream Doer," lending his voice to the United Nations recognized World Dream Day. He developed a successful gardening program for residents of ACMH, which is an affordable housing program for Peers living with mental health concerns in Queens, NY. During the 2017-18 academic year, Sean and BFGP supplied a starting point for graduate students studying relational/systems thinking and “food as medicine” as part of the MFA Products of Design program at SVA (School of Visual Arts) in NYC. More recently, Sean has joined the Urban Justice Center’s 10 week Systems Advocacy Workshop facilitating a program on public speaking.
Through these and other activities, Sean is continuing to develop the concepts and model for the Brain Food Garden Project, while spreading the basic message that gardening and clean eating are viable, effective and accessible "wellness tools" for life-long learning and steady recovery.
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