Whatcom gardens help teens grow

Bellingham | May 31, 2019
strawberry bed
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 valuable life lessons and many more, as they come together, dig in and get their hands dirty at the We Grow Garden.

berries and birdhousesThe 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 Common Threads. Together, the two organizations are working to provide hands-on vocational training and skill building --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, Northwest Youth Services offers housing and support services for young people ages 13-24. Its diverse programs have touched many lives, among them is John. 
Employment in the We Grow Garden has provided an opportunity for John to secure housing and the chance to build his work skills and resume. The garden has provided the fresh air and space to get clarity on what his long-term career goals are, while teaching him a variety of new transferrable skills. John continues to work with staff at Northwest Youth Services on reaching his goals and dream job. volunteers clear garden beds

Growing food and opportunity

At the We Grow Garden, youth like John 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 Common Threads Garden Educators, Northwest Youth Services 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 June through September.  

This year, in addition to volunteer work days, Northwest Youth Services will offer community harvest days. An opportunity for individuals to visit the garden and pick their own fresh fruits and vegetables by donation. Harvest days will depend on the availability of fresh produce and will be listed on the Northwest Youth Services website and newsletter
  
volunteer working onion and lettuce gardenOver 200 pounds of additional produce from the garden is expected to be donated to the Bellingham Food Bank and other organizations that serve community members living with food insecurity or poverty
  
Recognizing that good health stems, in part, from a safe, nurturing environment, PeaceHealth is proud to support this and Northwest Youth Services’ 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 and Common Threads Farm

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.