Gardening always felt intimidating because it was not part of my life growing up. I believed it was a magic skill only bestowed upon select individuals, and I had not been chosen. A seed of knowledge that, if not ingrained into the mind at a young age, never fully blossoms. A crop that, if not tended to early in the season, never reaches fruition. But I came to realize the years bring many seasons and give countless second chances to begin anew.
One evening at Evergreen, I heard my fellow classmate Shaina speak about a non-profit organization that teaches youth how to grow their own fresh foods on a small-scale farm in a city setting. I immediately felt a desire to support such a cause because I longed for the self-sufficiency that growing your own food brings, and food insecurity has shaped my life in many ways.
Growing up in a low-income,single parent home, fast foods were the typical meal my mother resorted to as she went to school and worked two jobs. I qualified for the “free lunch”throughout my entire school experience. However, the embarrassment of having the “FREE” qualification flash on the computer screen in the cafeteria line caused me to skip lunch frequently, adding onto the hunger I already experienced from not consistently eating breakfast. So when I first heard my classmate describe GRuB’s mission to combat food insecurity, my interest was piqued.
Shortly after, I came across an internship announcement that specifically requested a veteran for a project that builds garden boxes with people in need. Let me get this straight—a non-profit that teaches youth to grow food AND builds gardens with the community? It sounded too good to be true. The mantra “be who you needed when you were younger” crept into my mind, and I knew that GRuB was in my destiny. Sign me up.
As we built garden boxes full of independence, sustenance, and hope throughout Thurston County, it felt like old times in the army. Driving ridiculously enormous vehicles, meeting new faces, venturing to parts unknown, rolling up the sleeves, getting the hands dirty in selfless work, all in the name of creating a better world for all people, is parallel to the soldier’s creed. We were making little deliveries of freedom in the form of 2x8’s and pungent-smelling compost soil.
Building gardens reconnected something in my spirit that had been lost since I got out of the military, and it reaffirmed that, “To plant a garden is to believe in tomorrow.” It’s amazing how we find ourselves when we get lost in service to others, and GRuB provided a way to feel of service again.
I’m thankful to GRuB for the opportunity to build gardens.
I’m thankful to GRuB for showing that kindness is not weakness.
I’m thankful to GRuB for being an example of how to intentionally live better: by the food we eat, by the relationships we build, by the service we provide; simply how to be the best person we can be.
And most importantly, I'm thankful to GRuB for reaffirming a truth that has the power to change the world: “Everyone’s welcome; nobody’s perfect; and anything’s possible.”
—Tara Blue, Veterans Conservation Corps, GRuB Intern 2018