Sowing the seeds of the future

Bellingham | June 29, 2018
youth-gardening
Young people learn gardening and other life skills

“A garden is a grand teacher. It teaches patience and careful watchfulness; it teaches industry and thrift; above all it teaches entire trust.” - Gertrude Jekyll

Youth in Washington’s Whatcom and Skagit counties are learning these valuable life lessons and many more, as they come together, dig in and get their hands dirty at the We Grow Garden.

The effort led by Northwest Youth Services re-sprouted in June 2017, at a new location in Bellingham, Washington. Featuring 32 raised beds, the garden is nestled near the community’s food bank and public high school. 

Northwest Youth Services also has a new partnership with Growing Alliances. Together, the two organizations are working to provide even more youth in the community with this hands-on vocational opportunity--helping foster the growth of healthy plants, youth and community. 

Time, talents and treasure from PeaceHealth and many other community supporters make the We Grow Garden possible. From a bag of soil to volunteers showing up to work side-by-side with the young people – every donation is making a difference.

Doorway to safety

Founded in 1976, NWYS offers housing and support services for kids and adults ages 13 to 24. Its diverse programs have touched many lives. Among them is Monica, a young mother who was desperate to create a more stable life and brighter future for her daughter.

“I couch surfed and lived out of my old car for a whole year,” she said. “The nights I had to sleep outside in a thin tent were the times when I felt the most insecure.”

At NWYS, Monica was given the tools and encouragement she needed to flourish, including a permanent place she and her little one now call home.

“When [my case manager] unlocked the apartment door, there was a stove,” she joyfully recalled. “That night I cooked chicken alfredo — the first warm meal I had in 14 days.”

Growing food and opportunity

At the We Grow Garden, youth like Monica are learning how to grow their own food, while also cultivating other critical life skills including communication, leadership, teamwork, customer service and more. They are talents essential to achieving success in a professional environment. 

Youth participants are hired to work in the garden alongside NWYS staff and volunteers. They take the lead in planting, tending and harvesting organic produce and flowers.

The We Grow organization welcomes volunteers from the community to work next to the youth employees, planting, mulching, pruning and watering the crops. Work parties run from through September. 
 
The young gardeners sell their bounty--fresh fruit, flowers and veggies--to local restaurants and to the public at the We Grow market stand at 1815 Ellis Street, Bellingham, Washington 98225.
 
In summer 2018, the market stand seasons begins Wednesday, July 4, 2018 and will be open every Wednesday and Thursday thereafter through September 2018.   Produce from the garden is also donated to the Bellingham Food Bank.
 
Recognizing that good health stems, in part, from a safe, nurturing environment, PeaceHealth is proud to support this and NWYS’s many other life-changing programs. 
 
The We Grow Garden sows seeds of success, with one of the community’s most valuable resources in mind — our youth. 
 

For more information, visit Northwest Youth Services at https://www.nwys.org/employment-education and Growing Alliances at http://growingalliances.org/.

We Grow Garden isn't the only youth-oriented garden supported by PeaceHealth. Another program, FOOD for Lane County's Youth Farm in Oregon, sells its farm produce at PeaceHealth Sacred Heart Medical Center at RiverBend every summer.