By Ashlie Tainer, 1st Year MES Student.
It didn’t take long after moving to Olympia in the Fall of 2014 before a local non-profit called GRuB seemed to keep popping up in conversation. I originally heard of GRuB from my roommate, who was interning for them at the time. GRuB stands for Garden-Raised Bounty, and it’s their mission to inspire positive personal and community change by bringing people together around food and agriculture. They do this by partnering with youth and people with low-incomes to create empowering individual and community food solutions. There are several arms of GRuB, such as their agriculture-based alternative education, employment, and drop-out prevention programs. GRuB also serves the community through their Kitchen Garden Project (KGP), Growing Veterans program, and Community Support Agriculture (CSA) share.
One day, my roommate came home with a job description of an internship GRuB was hiring for. I was already looking for ways to get involved with their work and after a few weeks I became GRuB’s Event Coordinator Intern, specifically responsible for planning their annual spring fundraiser called the Day of the Bed.
My position was a part of the Kitchen Garden Project (KGP), which partners with organizations and low-income people to create backyard and neighborhood food solutions. We connect people with the sustainable food movement by providing access to the knowledge and resources needed to grow fresh, healthy, and culturally appropriate foods. Started in 1993 by Richard Doss and inspired by the Home Gardening Project in Portland, OR, the KGP has built over 2,500 free backyard and community gardens for low-income people throughout Puget Sound.
The work GRuB does in the community is large, although the budget we have to work with is small. My job was to plan the 9th annual Day of the Bed Event, where community members and organizations participate on volunteer teams to raise money to support the cost of up to two backyard kitchen gardens, and then build the gardens along side the families receiving them. Following the garden builds was our KGP Build Season Kick-off Party and Potluck, for which I invited GRuB’s new and alumni gardeners, their mentors and the neighbors to come and celebrate with our staff and volunteer build teams.
I spent the first three months of my six-month internship posting flyers, sending emails, making in-person contacts and giving presentations to advertise the Day of the Bed and the opportunity to support a backyard kitchen garden for a local family who identifies as low-income and is interested in growing their own healthy food. I had teams signing up all the way until the week before the event, and ended with 11 total. The teams consisted of volunteers ranging from a variety of local businesses and organizations, such as The Brotherhood Lounge, the East and Westside Food-Coops, West Olympia Rotary Club, Slow Food Greater Olympia, Washington Service Corps, Girl Scout Troop #45294, the Office of Assigned Counsel, YWCA, and the GRuB School Alum and Board.
Each team’s goal was to raise $1,000, which covers the material and building costs of two backyard kitchen gardens. During the weeks prior to the Day of the Bed, teams rallied by holding raffles, creating Go-Fund-Me accounts, and reaching out to friends and family. The Girl Scout troop I worked with were the most motivated and enthusiastic group of 10- and 11-year-olds I have encountered to this day, and pledged to meet their fundraising goal by holding a garage sale-car wash-bake sale-lemonade stand, all mixed into one event. Their energy was contagious and every team carried their attitude throughout their own fundraising efforts.
We expected to accommodate an average of 70 individuals throughout the event, and that meant we needed food and hydration for all of them. We received large amounts of in-kind donations and support from local restaurants and farms, such as the Blue Heron and San Francisco Street Bakeries, Bagel Brothers, Starbucks, The Fresh Approach, Sullivan’s Homestead, Rising River Farm, and Kirsop Farm.
Throughout the week of the 9th annual Day of the Bed, I drove our trusty dump truck, “The Beast,” around to all eleven build sites to drop off lumber, soil, and tools in preparation for the big event. Every new gardener received three 8×4 raised gardens beds, seeds, starts and GRuB’s growing guide. The KGP is committed to a gardener’s success and also provides volunteer mentors and free access to GRuB’s extensive gardening workshop series for those interested.
After 6 months of planning, coordinating and playing in the dirt, the Day of the Bed was finally here. On Saturday, May 9th, the eleven volunteer teams arrived at 9am to turn in their total funds raised and enjoy a free breakfast, while mingling with their GRuB lead builders and fellow teams. The weather was the warmest it had been all year and the GRuB farm was buzzing with excitement. In true GRuB style, we started the event with a circle-up and activity to get everyone acquainted. We took team photos and a large group photo before sending the build teams off to their build sites with our traditional cheer, “Go, GRuB, Grow!”
Each of the builds took an average of two hours, and other than a few bent nails and one bruised arm, everything went off without a hitch. All of the build teams paraded back to the farm when they were finished, and were greeted with a delicious potluck and live music from the local family band, Fiddlie-I-Ay. The event included homemade Kombucha from the Bucha Mama Boys and picnic tables adorned with flowers from GRuB’s farm, and concluded with partner square dancing on the grass field in the sun.
Overall, GRuB’s 9th annual Day of the Bed was a huge success and 11 teams from our community built 11 Kitchen Garden Project gardens in a single morning. Together, the teams raised over $7,000 to cover to cost of up to 15 backyard kitchen gardens. We had successfully put the day to rest.