Growing Healthy Food, People, and Communities
Story Submitted by: Anna Robinson, GRuB Grants & Marketing Coordinator
Each year, students walk onto the GRuB Farm with a bit of uncertainty, a lot of curiosity, and a glimmer of hope in their eyes. Hope that they will find something different here. These are youth who come with backpacks full of potential challenges, many of whom have been written off by their families or teachers. We see them as powerful future leaders with the ability to harness their innate strengths by engaging in powerful community and personal change work, thereby opening up opportunities to take on responsibility for their own choices, actions, and future life direction.
Through our GRuB School Pilot Program and larger GRuB in the Schools Initiative, disengaged and/or low-income students earn credits while learning about and contributing to their local food systems. Our holistic, hands-on curriculum focuses on the themes of Farming Self (personal development), Farming Land (sustainable land stewardship), and Farming Community (civic engagement & community service). All activities are based on four tenets found in our country’s best youth programs: Responsibility – Does the program create opportunities for youth to take on real-world responsibility? Relevance – Is it relevant to the lives of our youth participants? Is it relevant to our community? Relationships – Are strong, trusting relationships built between youth and with their adult mentors? Rigor – Is the work rigorous? Will it stretch youths’ capacity for commitment and hard work?
We envision multiple GRuB-like sites in Thurston County and beyond providing youth with meaningful and relevant leadership & learning experiences on important issues in their community year-round. While students, who have typically struggled in traditional classrooms, invest in the betterment of their community, they earn credits, graduate, and move on towards their own dreams and goals.
“I have personally watched students transform from disgruntled and angry to engaged and happy. Although it can be a roller coaster, I see GRuB’s work as a catalyst for providing hope with many students who had previously lost hope. Their presence clearly has made a difference in the culture of our school.”
– Matt Grant, Olympia High School Principal
From 2001-2011, only 39% of youth who entered GRuB’s youth programs were on track to graduate. Today, 90% have either graduated from high school, are on-track to graduate, and/or have earned their GED and 66% have gone on to college.
As a non-profit organization, we are actively seeking partners to help make this work possible. These include community donations, foundation partnerships, and school district contracts, as well as the pursuit of funding through the State to support these types of programs (House Bill 1418 as well as potential new legislation). For more information on how you can get involved or if you are interested in a copy of our curriculum, please visit our website and/or contact us at 360-753-5522 or firstname.lastname@example.org