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Sowing the seeds of community with veterans in the garden

A brief history of GRuB

The seed for GRuB was planted in 1993 as the Kitchen Garden Project (KGP).

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

Haki Farmers Collective volunteers build soil at the Victory Garden using a GRuB recipe.

A few years later, in 1996, Bonnie Turner, an elder in our community, offered her back yard 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, these programs merged to become Garden-Raised Bounty (GRuB). Since we began building gardens, GRuB has had a consistent veteran presence as either “Lead Builders” for the season or as key volunteers. With the help of our communities and veterans we’ve built over 3200 free gardens throughout western Washington.

The Victory Farm on Martin Way is a new space for veterans and their families to connect with and build community through gardening, nature and the outdoors. We offer in-person workshops at the Victory Farm (pre COVID and again this summer) for recipients of our gardens, as well as resource info sessions and council practices/talk circles specifically for vets.

If you need a garden, want to deepen your roots in our community, or are looking to connect with
people who have diverse life experiences, the GRuB Garden Project has a place for you.

GRuB has partnered with the Washington Department of Veteran Affairs (WDVA) and other “veteran specific” resource groups and nonprofits in an effort to help connect veterans within our community to resources and services more efficiently and holistically. Veterans who are interested in pursuing farming/gardening as a career now have low-barrier access to education, funding, land, mentorship and a host of other resources either through GRuB or our network.

Our workshops go over everything from basic gardening “how to”, houseplants (care, bonsai, etc), Guerrilla Gardening, Plant Teaching for Growing Social-Emotional Skills, and a free form Q&A. This is an opportunity for veterans and gardeners to interact and build community through growing, sharing, and supporting each other.

Veterans Council Practice is a rally point for anyone in the military family. In council we get to the heart of our experience by laying down all we carry and honoring all of who we are, whole warriors living our truth in a return to true belonging in society. This space is held for any adult in the military family, including survivors of veteran suicide loss, Gold Star families, active duty, reserves, guard members, dependents and our civilian allies.

One of our veteran partners, Woods Bee Co., donated hives and equipment for the Victory Farm in 2019. This season, as we start to open back up, we will incorporate honey bee workshops and beekeeper certifications into our programming. In the meantime (April 19—May 22) Alan Woods from Woods Bee Co will be offering a beginner beekeeping certification course online for $45. GRuB has scholarships available for veterans, too.

GRuB empowers veterans to continue serving their community as partners, builders & farmers in our GRuB Garden Project and Victory Farm. The Victory Farm is a safe, non-confrontational environment where veterans work shoulder-to-shoulder immersed in the healing nature of the outdoors, agriculture, and working in dirt! Victory Farmers are an integral part of the GRuB Garden Project, expanding the work we’ve been doing throughout the South Sound since 1993. Veterans lead the effort to build gardens with low-income people and families in Thurston County, WA. From 2014-2020, they’ve built over 500 gardens in the community and provided a means for people to grow their own food.

Beau Gromley is Food Solutions Manager at GRuB and a veteran of the Marines and US Army.


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