Our History

GRuB began in 1993 as the Kitchen Garden Project (KGP). 

Inspired by the work of Vietnam veteran Dan Barker (founder of the Home Gardening Project), South Sounders Richard & Maria Doss began building free vegetable gardens for low-income people in southwestern Washington. The KGP’s mission was to empower low-income people by giving them more  control over their own food security and decreasing their reliance on emergency food programs.

A few years later, In 1996, an elder in our community named Bonnie Turner offered her back yard as the site for an intergenerational community gardening project. This gave our founders an opportunity to establish and anchor a garden program for youth and seniors. In 2001, this garden program merged with the KGP to become GRuB. 

Since then, we have built an established community nonprofit which works at the intersection of food, education, and health systems to grow healthy food, people, and communities. Each year, we directly engage approximately 650 Thurston County residents of all ages in relationship-based programming around food and agriculture. We primarily work with marginalized young people with low incomes and/or behavioral and disciplinary indicators of high ACE (Adverse Childhood Experience) scores, low-income families, students, seniors experiencing hunger, and veterans.

In 2007, we purchased 2 acres of urban farmland and built a 3,000 square-foot  farmhouse In 2015, we secured an additional 1.18 acres of adjacent farmland in partnership with South of the Sound Community Farm Land Trust. In 2016 we designed four new Career Technical Education (CTE) frameworks approved by OSPI, inspiring a new Career Pathway for the State of Washington called “Agroecology and Sustainable Agriculture.” 

The same year, we successfully piloted a second urban farm, run by volunteer veterans, active duty military members, and their families. To date we’ve developed five GRuB-like farm- and garden-based youth education and employment programs in Thurston, Lewis, Grays Harbor, Mason, and Pacific Counties and twice hosted Rooted in Community, a national youth leadership summit. In 2009, we were honored with a Washington State Senate Resolution

This year, legislation supporting GRuB-like youth programs was included in a state “breakfast after the bell” bill (HB 1508) which was signed into law on March 7, 2018. 

Our organization and staff have been recognized with numerous awards. Highlights include:

  • 2005 Human Rights Award from the Thurston Council on Cultural Diversity and Human Rights
  • Voted “Best Local Nonprofit” of 2017 by readers of regional newspaper the Weekly Volcano 
  • Recognition as a 2017 Thurston Green Business 
  • Thurston Economic Development Council’s 2018 Nonprofit of the Year 
  • Co-founder Blue Peetz received a 2011 ING Unsung Hero Award
  • Co-founder Kim Gaffi received the 2013 YWCA Woman of Achievement Award
  • Lead Victory Farmer Mark Oravsky received a 2015 WA State Department of Veterans Affairs’ Outstanding Service to Veterans Award
  • Cultivating Community & Leaders Manager Kerensa Mabwa received a 2016 Peacemaker Award from the Thurston County Dispute Resolution Center

We recognize and acknowledge that our farm, which is so crucial to our organization, is on land traditionally inhabited by indigenous nations including the Nisqually, Chehalis, and Squaxin. We give thanks to indigenous peoples worldwide who have, for thousands of years, been the stewards of the seeds that become the foods and medicines that nourish all of us. Thank you to all of those who came before us, and to those who make our work possible.

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