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A Farm That Grows More Than Plants

Transitions-Mental Health Association (TMHA) is a nonprofit organization committed to reducing the stigma of mental illnesses, maximizing personal potential and providing innovative mental health services to individuals and families in need. TMHA offers a full spectrum of prografarmms in both San Luis Obispo and Northern Santa Barbara Counties. TMHA’s mission is to help children and adults live, work and grow.

In 1984, TMHA established the first Growing Grounds Farm in San Luis Obispo. The program was designed to offer adults with mental illness the opportunity to work and earn a paycheck, giving people meaningful work within the community. Using a combination of horticultural therapy and vocational training, the program provided employment opportunities and supportive environment for personal and professional growth.

The farm proved to be so successful in helping clients achieve their personal recovery goals, that in 2000, TMHA opened a second Growing Grounds in Santa Maria. This farm now features a produce stand that sells cut flowers, produce and plants grown by client employees. In 2005 TMHA introduced Growing Grounds Downtown, a retail outlet staffed in part by client employees. The store offers plants, cut flowers and produce grown at both farms as well as crafts created by clients of TMHA and local artists.

These programs are complemented with job coaching, readiness training and vocational assessment through TMHA’s Supported Employment Program all designed to help job-seekers find success in the competitive employment market in careers they prefer, with the level of professional support they need to succeed.

Water is at a premium in Central California, and the Farm in San Luis Obispo—a wholesale nursery—offers many plants which can thrive with less moisture. Growing Grounds Farm carries ferns, herbs, Mediterranean perennials and succulents.

“About 50% of our income comes through product sales so we have to offer a product that people want to buy,” said Craig Wilson, Program Manager at the San Luis Obispo Farm. “On the Central Coast, Mediterranean perennials and California natives have proven to be most successful and California natives in particular have become a niche market for us.”

The Farm grows restoration and mitigation plants, and has a spectacular collection of over 250 varieties of Bearded Iris and about 80 varieties of Day Lilies. “We are creating a plant bank of local natives specific to each area on the Central Coast, as well as providing the Land Conservancy with thousands of plants for restoration projects,” said Megan Hall, Nursery Coordinator.

The farm also hosts two solar arrays that have saved 166,771 pounds of CO2 since September of 2008. The solar panels save the farm about $250-350 a month in electrical costs.

Farm products are available at the Growing Grounds Downtown Store and at nurseries throughout the county (look for the yellow tag). Growing Grounds Farm is open to the public at retail pricing the third Tuesday of every month from 2 – 4 p.m. For more information contact the San Luis Obispo Farm at 805-543-6071. Thank you for your support of the Growing Grounds businesses!

Transitions-Mental Health Association
Post Office Box 15408
San Luis Obispo, CA 93406

Growing Grounds Farm
San Luis Obispo
At the PG&E substation
3740 Orcutt Road
San Luis Obispo, CA 93406

Growing Grounds Farm
Santa Maria
820 W. Foster Road
Santa Maria, CA 93454
Growing Grounds Store
Downtown San Luis Obispo
956 Chorro Street
San Luis Obispo, CA 93401

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