Submitted by GRuB
Thank you to the Disabled Veterans National Foundation for their generous donation of $8,400 to GRuB (Garden-Raised Bounty)’s Victory Farm and Victory Garden Project in Lacey on August 26 2019! With this funding, 50 veteran Victory Farmers will be able to dig in at our new Victory Farm in 2020—working shoulder to shoulder in the dirt to grow good food, people and community. In 2020, we plan to grow over 800 lb of food for Lacey Food Bank’s Farm Stand and volunteer Victory Farmers, facilitate at least 6 veteran support training workshops focusing on resiliency, resources and re-integration, and build over 35 free backyard gardens for families with low incomes.
Deb Crockett, GRuB’s Executive Director says, “We are thrilled with the partnership of the Disabled Veteran National Foundation to support the healthy transition of veterans into our community while increasing the entire community’s access to fresh food.”
Joseph Van Fonda (USMC Sgt.Maj. Ret.), CEO of the Disabled Veterans National Foundation said, “We are
proud to support GRuB, as they continue to make a positive impact in veterans’ lives. We would like to congratulate and thank them for their commitment to assisting the men and women who served in defense of our country.”
GRuB grows healthy food, people and community in Thurston County. Located near JBLM, the 4th largest military base in the US, Thurston County has the 2nd largest military population in WA. Over 6,000 veterans (U.S. Census 2017) and 25% of JBLM families live in Lacey (Lacey Chamber of Commerce 2017), the location of our new Victory Farm. Veterans often struggle with community reintegration, contributing to high rates of poverty, divorce and suicide. More than 40% of post-9/11 veterans report difficulty transitioning to civilian life, including high unemployment rates and strained relationships with family (Pew Research Center 2011).
For the past 20 years, GRuB has utilized powerful leadership, communication and Community building tools on our urban farm to transform the lives of over 500 young people. In 2014, GRuB realized these programs can be used to address the challenges of veterans in our community who are struggling with transition from military service. GRuB began providing meaningful opportunities for veterans, such as leading the building of free backyard gardens for low-income families, to use skills gained in the military for mission-driven community service while accessing ongoing peer support.
In 2015, GRuB piloted a new program—The Victory Farmers—focused on engaging veterans and active-duty military service members in relationship and garden-based programming. We successfully piloted a veteran-run “Victory Farm” at a temporary site where veterans, active duty service personnel, and civilian community members came together to grow fresh and nutritious produce. Food grown by participants was donated to the local food bank and to a group providing warm weekly meals to community members experiencing homelessness. This program, particularly its peer support aspects, has powerful impacts. Since the Victory Farmers’ inception, five veterans have disclosed that participation in programming prevented their suicide.
Building on our past successes in implementing a veteran-led farm at a temporary site, this year we began development of our new secured site for the new Victory Farm. Made possible through a partnership with the Thurston County Food Bank, the Victory Farm is located in Lacey behind the new Lacey Food Bank Hub. The farm is part of a “Compassionate Community Project,” together with the City of Lacey, Lacey Chamber of Commerce, Lacey Veterans Services Hub and the Thurston County Food Bank.
The goal of the Victory Farm is to create a safe, non-confrontational place where veterans, active duty service members and their families work shoulder to shoulder with community, immersed in the healing nature of the outdoors, agriculture and dirt work. In addition to time spent transforming and cultivating a 10,000-square-foot urban lot into a sustainable farm, our team of Victory Farmers will directly engage in building gardens for low-income families throughout Thurston County in 2020 as part of the Victory Garden Project. Garden applications are available on our website now (www.goodgrub.org), and the deadline to apply is January 31.
What happens when we get outside, pick up a shovel and get dirty? People begin to open up, walls come down and the roots of real human relationships form. Veterans begin to share and find they aren’t isolated in their struggle. They cultivate connections with each other – often sources of life-saving peer support– and with families living in poverty who relate to their experience with suffering, struggle, and resilience. At the end of the day, our veterans find their place in community and our community learns how to better understand and support those who have fought for our freedoms- all while enjoying good food.
About the Disabled Veterans National Foundation:
Disabled Veterans National Foundation exists to provide critically needed support to disabled and at-risk veterans who leave the military wounded-physically or psychologically-after defending our safety and our freedom. DVNF achieves this mission by:
- Offering financial support to veteran organizations that address the unique needs of veterans, and whose missions align with that of DVNF.
- Providing supplemental assistance to homeless and low-income veterans through the Health & Comfort program and various empowerment resources.
- Providing an online resource database that allows veterans to navigate the complex service, as well as additional resources they need.
- Serving as a thought leader on critical policy issues within the veteran community, and educating the public accordingly.