Sowing the seeds of the future

Bellingham | December 6, 2017

“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.

This and many of the non-profit organization’s other outreach programs are sustained with the help of financial, in-kind and volunteer contributions from supporters including PeaceHealth through our Community Collaboration committee.

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.

Participants, hired to work in the garden alongside community volunteers and NWYS staff, take the lead in planting, tending and harvesting organic produce and flowers. The bounty is sold to the public on site at the We Grow Market Stand, and to several local restaurants, as well as 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 effort is sowing seeds of success, with one of the community’s most valuable resources in mind — our youth.

“I have goals for my life,” said Jeff, a teen receiving assistance from Northwest Youth Services. “NWYS is helping me to achieve them.”

For more information about Northwest Youth Services, go to nwys.org; for more information about PeaceHealth, visit peacehealth.org.