OLYMPIA, Washington—At the southernmost point of the Puget Sound in Washington State, a local non-profit is putting a twist on a national trend. GRuB, a local grassroots organization in Olympia, Washington formed in 2001 is on a mission to nourish the community and empower people by growing good food. Similar projects and community gardens have been proliferating across the United States for the past several years.
Beyond the national trend, GRuB (short for Garden-Raised Bounty) is also a positive force in the lives of teenagers who come from low-income families or are considered at-risk. They learn about garden planning, cover crops, soil science, and sustainable pest management, and how to put it all together. They also install backyard gardens for low-income families.
“Grub gives the opportunity to grow, not just vegetables, but with yourself,” said Ms. Haylee Tiner, 17, who has been working for GRuB since the end of June, 2008. She used to be considered a troubled youth, but through working at GRuB, she was taught responsibility, to be kind, make better choices, and to become a better person.
In 2007, on less than an acre of cultivated land, twenty-two teenagers like Tiner working with GRuB produced over 10,000 lbs. of food for market, their families, and the local food bank.
But at the root of this organization are their core values to help youth learn about themselves. Youth take part in workshops on non-violent communication, healthy relationships, anti-oppression and the root of hunger. They also learn to prepare healthy, delicious meals.
GruB helps youths to have better communication with their teachers or tutors at school, so they can more readily ask for help when they need it. GruB also helped Tiner make friends who influence her life in a positive way.
Tiner says she hated eating vegetables before, had no idea about sustainable living practices, and didn't bother with recycling. She didn't even like the taste of water. Working at GruB gave her a whole new perspective on food, the world, and her place in it.
“There's not enough good food in the world,” said Ms. Tiner. The biggest challenge for her was opening her mind to world issues, thinking differently about the environment, and how her actions impact the health of the planet.
GruB even connects kids with doctors of natural medicine, free of charge. Tiner thinks troubled teens aren't provided with enough opportunities like this, and adults don't usually give kids enough room to grow.
She expressed that GruB teaches young people to have healthy relationships and healthy bodies.
“Grub gives me confidence,” said Ms. Tiner. “I want the world to know about what we do.”