The GRuB School Model

For over 15 years, GRuB has been running sustainable agriculture-based alternative education, employment, & drop-out prevention programs that engage local teens in land & community-based projects, working to break cycles of hunger, poverty, inequality, and oppression. From 2001-2011, only 39% of youth who entered GRuB’s youth programs were on track to graduate. Today, 90% have either graduated from high school, are on-track to graduate, and/or have earned their GED and 66% have gone on to college.

In 2009, Olympia High School Principal Matt Grant approached GRuB about the possibility of transitioning from an after school employment program to an educational program as part of the school day. As part of a two year pilot program, a cohort of OHS students attended GRuB School for the second half of their day, earning core credits through Career and Technical Education (CTE) while developing life skills, engaging with their community and becoming leaders for positive social change.

At the end of that pilot, in summer 2013, GRuB co-founder Blue Peetz left GRuB and launched the Freedom Farmers program at Muirhead Farm within the Olympia School District. This program follows a similar curriculum and model to the pilot program and serves Olympia High School.  GRuB has continued with the school model and transitioned to serving students from Capital High School in the school year, and multiple high schools in the summer.  This allowed twice as many South Sound area students to participate in alternative, community-engaged learning. We are currently partnering with the Tumwater School District to launch a similar program there in the summer of 2016.

The Program

Our proven curriculum centers on GRuB’s core themes of Farming Self, Farming Land, & Farming Community. All activities are based on four tenets found in our country’s best youth programs:

  • IMGP1552Responsibility – Does the program create opportunities for youth to take on real-world responsibility?
  • Relevance – Is it relevant to the lives of our youth participants? Is it relevant to our community?
  • Relationships – Are strong, trusting relationships built between youth and with their adult mentors?
  • Rigor – Is the work rigorous? Will it stretch youths’ capacity for commitment and hard work?

grub kids c2015 lisa scott owen-13Farming Self
 (Personal Development)

  • Weekly ‘Straight Talk’ (youth and staff to give constructive feedback about their work and behavior).
  • Trust-building activities.
  • Workshops: public speaking, non-violent communication, conflict de-escalation, & healthy relationships.
  • One-on-one check-ins with staff to set goals in regard to academics, post-high school, family, and life.
  • Support for crewmembers and alumni in completing their FAFSA.
  • Learning to plan and prepare nutritious meals using seasonal products.

Farming Land (Sustainable Land Stewardship)

  • Leading the production and harvest of over 13,000 pounds of produce. Over half of this food is directed to our crewmembers, their families, and the Food Bank.
  • Leading hundreds of community volunteers on the farm.
  • Engaging in needed fieldwork at area farms dedicated to the production of food for the food bank.

Farming Community (Civic Engagement and Community Service)

  • Building free gardens for low-income families through GRuB’s Kitchen Garden Project. This past spring, GRuB youth participated in 57 garden builds, a record number for us.
  • Assisting in hosting workshops to support new gardeners using skills they have learned on the GRuB Farm


“I am not who I was last year, I try my hardest to succeed in school, I have learned to let my emotions out and I have blossomed into a mature young adult with priorities.”   -GRuB School Student

“My child was doing very poorly in traditional school. GRuB helped her find focus, achieve goals, and that led to her believing in herself.”   -Parent of GRuB School Student

“The fact that you can throw a bunch of teens on a farm and have them come out as family is astonishing.”    -GRuB School Student



GRuB Co-Founder and current Director of Programs, Kim Gaffi, gave an amazing TEDx talk at the Evergreen State College. She shared GRuB’s vision for a network of Food Justice High Schools based on GRuB’s successful high school program.

Students interested in joining the GRuB School program for the 2015/2016 school year should visit here or give us a call at 360-753-5522.