BFGP Volunteer Days, Hospital Garden & CSA


Growing Roots and Fostering Greater Mental Health Awareness in Our Communities


BFGP Day is a mental health peer volunteer day planned for the spring of 2021. Brain Food Garden Project intends to build  partnerships with four already established community gardens in each of NYC’s boroughs. This mental health peer volunteer day will foster peer communication, working together, and utilizing peer principles in the garden as recovery tools. Each peer gardener will take home a large bag of seasonal fruits & vegetables for their effort. This program will also work within the gardens localized community to broaden mental health knowledge in an effort to combat mental health stigma.

BFGP will engage our first two Peer Corordinater Gardeners for this pilot program these volunteer positions will liason between the community garden and the other peer participants on what duties need to be performed that day in the garden. As well as facilitating group discussions on a myriad of peer concepts for recovery. Although, these positions will be volunteer they will be year round and eventually paid positions after the first growing season. During the winter months the Peer Corordinater Gardeners will continue to facilitate indoor groups each month on healthier eating, shopping and a wide array of other food, garden and peer related topics.

Metropolitan Community Hospital Prospective Site for the Todd Petriscak Memorial Garden

Brain Food Garden Project with our partners are currently working to developing a relationship with NYC Health+ Hospitals to secure and develop unused space at Metropolitan Hospital Center to build the Todd Petriscak Memorial Garden. It is our hope that our first garden will be completely operational no later than 2025 for the use and benefit of the hospitals psychiatric inpatient care as well as outpatient services after discharge. Other spaces are being considered for the first garden as well. However, it is the hope of founder Sean Brennan that the first garden will find its home at Metropolitan hospital as he himself received excellent psychiatric care at MHC during a mental health crisis in 2012. It was during his time in 6 West that he started to develop his idea for Brain Food Garden Project while sitting in his room every day after lunch, and in his mind, staring out his window at a patch of empty rooftop space directly below,  started planting an imaginary garden that by the time of his discharge was completely flourishing.

Peers Creating Conversations About Healthier Eating Choices

While hospitalized at MHC after a consumer's medical team decides a peer is no longer a danger to themselves or others supervised trips off ward to the gym and book room are permitted. Visiting the Todd Petriscak Memorial Garden for workshops and gardening activities would become an extension of reaching this level of recovery. Those peers interested in continuing to be a member of the Brain Food Garden Project gardening club may inform their case manager of this desire and a Brain Food Garden Project working peer will be dispatched to  the consumers discharge meeting to insure it is included in their discharge paperwork. Working peers will also have scheduled weekly programing on each of the ward floors.

Main Objectives: 

  • To facilitate weekly certified Peer Advocate lead group sessions in in-patient units where peers and facilitators begin to have a fun and informative discussion on the role food plays on their mental health.
  • To offer peers reaching higher levels of recovery the opportunity to go off unit to the hospital garden and participate in seasonal gardening and other related activities.
  • Coordinating with outpatient services and outside agencies (housing programs and HARP programs) and creating a warm environment where patients feel a desire to return to the hospital to benefit from continuing to work on what they have already cultivated in our community garden
  • To be a reminder to patients that they are never alone, that their life does have meaning and that they have a peer support system to turn to no matter what their circumstances

Building a Hospital Community Around Our Garden

Although the garden is primarily for mental health peers to utilize as a wellness tool for their recovery while hospitalized and after discharge. The Todd Petriscak Memorial Garden is also a garden for the entire hospital community. There will be volunteer days other hospital consumers and staff may take advantage of participating in as well as garden tour days for those that just want to check out our work in progress.


A Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) is a program that allows consumers to buy local, seasonal food directly from a farmer. In the first of its kind the Brain Food Garden Project CSA will offer those living with mental health concerns an opportunity to receive boxes of fresh produce from our hospital garden seasonally at a very low cost of $5.00 a share per season. Participants in the Brain Food Garden Project gardening program, "our farmers" will automatically receive a share if they so desire at no cost. Depending on the productivity of the garden extra produce may be sold at a hospital farmer's market for the entire hospital community to take advantage of, other community gardeners will also be invited to come and share their fruits and vegetables as well at this weekly community event.

Main Objectives:

  • Changing the dialogue of food within the hospitals surrounding neighborhood by offering free fresh fruits and vegetables through two distinct and creative programs 
  • By starting a hospital community market with the fresh fruits and vegetables grown at the hospital garden
  • To create low cost CSA program specifically for the mental health community providing fruits and vegetables grown in the hospital gardens