travis durham

Nourish Day at Grove Park Home

In the front section of the resident garden. From left to right: Travis Durham, Wendy’s colleague/neighbour, Wendy Smith, Peter Dickey (Owner, Beekeeper– Dickey Bee Honey), Chris Wong (Partner– The Growing Connection), Sandra Wolf (Manager of Environmental Services– Grove Park Home), Hayley Lapalme, Cheryl Hsu, Robert Patterson (Founder– The Growing Connection), Vidhi Gupta

In the front section of the resident garden. From left to right: Travis Durham, Wendy’s colleague/neighbour, Wendy Smith, Peter Dickey (Owner, Beekeeper– Dickey Bee Honey), Chris Wong (Partner– The Growing Connection), Sandra Wolf (Manager of Environmental Services– Grove Park Home), Hayley Lapalme, Cheryl Hsu, Robert Patterson (Founder– The Growing Connection), Vidhi Gupta

On an overcast July morning, the Nourish Toronto team drove from Toronto to Barrie to visit Grove Park Home, second home to our Nourish innovator– Travis Durham, a place where community and care come together to serve nearly 140 elderly residents. In May, the long-term care facility celebrated its 50th anniversary, and last month Travis’ Nourish work made it to the national news on CTV.

We made several stops on this tour, which was filled with activities, delicious local treats and engaging conversations with both staff and residents; the highpoints being the time we spent in the on-site resident garden and at the backyard beehive with the residents, Ila and Robert.

The resident food garden, an open, green courtyard in the centre of the complex has nearly two dozen raised planters and is a great example of accessible, spatial design. Seeing the garden, it is hard to imagine that this space had been unused and closed off to residents for fifteen years due to mobility hazards. Now it’s a favourite area for residents, guests, and staff. In front of us was a garden in full bloom, with rows of corn, tomatoes, ground cherries, basil, zucchini, sweet peppers, beets, rosemary and lettuce– all tended by residents.

For this project, Travis partnered with Robert Patterson, a farmer, whose organization– The Growing Connection specializes in innovative horticultural systems. At Grove Home, he worked with Travis to set up the food garden, starting with a dozen Caja boxes, and last fall the resident council co-chaired by by Ila Ellison, purchased an additional two dozen boxes to scale up the initiative.

 
Left section of the garden with the tall corn stalks and rows of vegetables and herbs

Left section of the garden with the tall corn stalks and rows of vegetables and herbs

 

Robert has brought his Caja boxes all over the world, working with communities in the North and internationally. “When the grandmothers have taken on the change, that’s when you know it is sticking. Here at Grove Park, we start with the grandmothers,” said Robert as he walked us through the motivations, mechanics and benefits of the garden program.

The garden (also a part of the facility’s DementiAbility program) has notably enriched the lives of the residents by creating an accessible on-site green space wherein they can connect with their surroundings and each other, and also get the freshest produce on their plates. Last year, it won the AdvantAGE Ontario Innovation Award for Seniors’ Life Enrichment.

When the grandmothers have taken on the change, that’s when you know it is sticking. Here at Grove Park, we start with the grandmothers
— Robert Patterson, Founder, The Growing Connection
 
Resident council Ila Ellison with beekeeper Peter Dickey examining a slab from the beehive

Resident council Ila Ellison with beekeeper Peter Dickey examining a slab from the beehive

 

Later in the afternoon, we got to tour the backyard beehive with beekeeper, Peter Dickey of Dickey Bee Honey. The Grove Park bee program was started last year with the goal to have resident-supported, on-site honey production. Since then, the residents bankrolled a private-label honey program through which they have sold over 350 jars of honey, bringing in profits that have already exceeded the target set for 2019. The abundance of honey harvested has also led to a shift in the residents’ food habits to the extent that honey has replaced fruit jams on toast, and is now a permanent breakfast condiment.

Along with the support that Travis and the senior leadership team have lent to the project, the success of both the garden and beehive is underpinned by the involvement of the residents in the planning, management and maintenance of these projects. These ground-level breakthroughs at Grove Park Home are a great example of how engagement of senior leadership, resident-focused decision making and community partnerships can be leveraged to improve the quality of care, and consequently the quality of patient life in health care.

Travis Celebrates Indigenous Peoples Day at Grove Park with a Traditional Menu

Screen Shot 2018-06-25 at 2.54.10 PM.png


June 21 marked National Indigenous Peoples Day, and to celebrate and honour the day, Travis brought Huron-Wendat and Anishinabek dishes to the Grove Park Home menu. We interviewed Travis to learn how it all came about and to hear his takeaways from the day.
 

What got you thinking about Indigenous food in care?
I never really considered Indigenous food in healthcare prior to becoming a member of the Nourish cohort. After learning more about traditional foods from other cohort members, I realized that there is a lot that needs to be done to promote Indigenous foods in Canada and to educate the public.

Why does it matter to you?
It was important to recognize Huron-Wendat and Anishinabek people. The area is rich in their history, and I believe it was an opportunity to share their culture and cuisine with our residents, families and employees.
 

Screen Shot 2018-06-26 at 8.04.18 AM.png
I did some research on the Huron-Wendat and Anishinabek foods, and spoke with a family member who is actively engaged in sharing Indigenous traditions.


Tell us about your process to create a new menu for this day.
Initially, I reached out to Kathy Loon and Kelly Gordon, as well as Hayley Lapalme who provided me with some feedback on menu creation. That gave me a good baseline to develop the menu. Then I did some research on the Huron-Wendat and Anishinabek foods, and spoke with a family member who is actively engaged in sharing Indigenous traditions.

What's on the menu and how did you develop it? Where did you source the food?
The menu consisted of Three Sisters Soup, we used a recipe sourced online. We were originally going to serve a maple glazed trout but had difficulty sourcing a suitable cost-effective product, so we went with salmon. From there it was accompanied with blueberry bannock (which was a commercially sourced tea biscuit), maize (corn) and for dessert was fresh strawberries, sourced locally.
 

Screen Shot 2018-06-26 at 8.04.08 AM.png


How was the menu received?
The menu was received quite well, and the promotion of Indigenous Peoples day engaged our staff to discuss further. We had the adult day program staff even prepare a First Nations treat consisting of warm apple slices, cranberry and berries.

What reactions did residents give? What about staff?
We have a small contingent of Indigenous residents, but the most popular menu item was the Three Sisters Soup. We had numerous staff thank us for doing something to recognize the Indigenous population. It was well received.

Will you do it again? Same or different?
I would absolutely do it again. I didn't give myself enough time to source product. In the future, I would get in touch with a local Native Friendship Centre or one of the many reservations close by to source better recipes and menu item options. It can be difficult to develop a menu in long-term care that is appropriate for an ailing population that we serve.

 
I would absolutely do it again. A few suggestions for others: connect with your local Native Friendship Centre, traditional food specialists, and even the clientele that you serve.
 

What advice do you have for others who are thinking of bringing traditional foods into their own menu?
A few suggestions for others, as said above: connect with your local Native Friendship Centre, traditional food specialists, and even clientele that you serve. Do research on the items you are serving so that you can educate the people you're serving. Have fun sharing and learning!

Thank you Travis!