Communitas is please to announce the opening of its latest social enterprise: Little Sprout Café.
“This has been a labour of love and we are excited to finally be open for business,” says Matt Dirks, program director with Communitas. “A lot of planning has gone into Little Sprout Café and when guests visit, they’ll experience authentic community and fresh cuisine.”
Communitas has a great deal of experience with social enterprises and has brought that expertise to this new venture. The café has been years in the planning and because of this, it is unique in what it offers.
“We began brainstorming in 2014, looking for opportunities that would align with our mission, vision, and values, provide meaningful employment for people with diverse abilities, meet a need, and be financially viable,” Matt explains.
Their research led them to consider two options: a café or an urban farming operation. What is unique about Little Sprout Café, is that it is actually a marriage of the two. What makes the café unique is the focus on fresh, achieved by growing their own microgreens, herbs, and other leafy greens right inside the café. There is also a focus on locally sourced products and highlighting producers from the Lower Mainland.
Another unique aspect of Little Sprout Café is its commitment to inclusive hiring and training.
“At Little Sprout, there is a space for people of all abilities, on both sides of the counter,” Matt says.
The café will offer training for people living with mental health challenges, developmental disabilities, or acquired brain injury. Trainees will be involved in planting and cultivating microgreens, food prep, and other responsibilities, depending on the needs, skills, and experience of each trainee.
“This customization allows us to create an environment where people can flourish regardless of how much experience or skill they arrive with,” Matt explains. “This training is meant to provide a platform for people to test themselves, gain confidence, and make informed decisions about their job search.”
Chef Jordan Rempel will be in charge of the kitchen. A Red Seal chef with 18 years culinary experience, Jordan is passionate about food and people.
“Combining gardening and healthy cooking, while including and supporting people from our community is a dream come true,” he says. “Growing live greens and cutting them into our dishes is awesome. I am excited about the quality of the super-fresh foods we are going to serve.”
Jordan shares Matt’s conviction about inclusive hiring. He believes that a business that blesses the community is a business that thrives because it puts people first.
“Everyone has skills and abilities, sometimes they just need a place to ‘activate’ those skills,” Jordan says, adding that he hopes other businesses will be inspired by the café’s inclusive hiring. “I hope our model will ‘sprout’ more inclusive hiring in other cafes and restaurants in Abbotsford.”
“We invite everyone to come eat, support the work we do, and be inspired to imagine a community where everyone has a place,” he says.
Little Sprout Café opens on Tuesday, April 20th and is located at #102 – 2776 Bourquin Crescent West in Abbotsford. The café will be open Monday to Saturday from 7:30 am to 2:30 pm with a full take-out menu. Visit littlesproutcafe.ca for all the details.