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Hutton Settlement Children's Home Embraces GROW BIOINTENSIVE
By David Milliken, Hutton Settlement Children's Home Campus Director

Residents work together to harvest tomatoes
Hutton Settlement residents work together to harvest tomatoes
PHOTO CREDIT: David Milliken

The Hutton Settlement Children's Home, located in Spokane Valley, WA, provides safe and healthy living opportunities for children ages 5 to 18 in need of a long-term alternative home. The campus consists of four large homes, supported by 319 acres of pristine natural settings with opportunities for learning and recreation. We believe in providing a safe home and family, relationships of compassion and respect, and hope and wholeness through opportunity.

As the Settlement celebrates its centennial in 2019, there will be a returning home for hundreds of alumni who have called Hutton home over the past decades. Many of those returning will recall the memories of wheat fields, orchards, and livestock that were central to the Hutton Settlement mission of providing long-term care for abused, abandoned and neglected children in the early years. Over the decades, with agricultural interests declining and food-producing regulations increasing, the farm disappeared from campus life.

Trevor, from Hutton Settlement, practices double-digging as
John Jeavons, Director, and Kimberley, VGfP Asst. Manager,
look on.Today, as we enter a new century of long-term care for children in need, there is a resurgence of farm life at Hutton, largely led by a youth movement, to support food justice on campus and beyond. To capture and mobilize this young energy, the Hutton Settlement sent three staff and two youth to the 3-Day GROW BIO-INTENSIVE Mini-Farming Workshop in March 2018 to learn about small-scale sustainable farming. Gaining skills in the 8-step method of GB and receiving consultation from John Jeavons, Ecology Action's Director, the group returned home to restore the Hutton farm with an army of 15 children and staff desiring to be change agents. With teams of five, each with 400 square feet of garden beds, the group journeyed through the process of planning, experimenting and documenting their journey towards abundance. Within our first year, the garden has already produced the highest campus food yield in recent memory!

The skills of dryland mini-farming have been foundational to our garden success. However, the true miracle of the GROW BIOINTENSIVE approach is in its expanded life-giving message that is shared with the children of the Hutton Settlement. Seasonal discussions in the garden centered around digging deeper to allow space for healing and support in our lives, relying on close-proximity diversity for healthy community, and leaving legacy seeds for the next generation. Double-digging, close companion planting, and seed collecting are valuable garden methods, but they are also ways to live a healthy human life and are certainly healing messages for children who have been forced into defended barriers, isolation, and hopelessness. I credit Ecology Action for helping to expose our children to a hopeful world of abundance and the opportunity to offer their gardens the very thing they often didn't receive—the deep nurturing, close relationship, and hope necessary to thrive. It is in this empowered action that the children of the Hutton Settlement are being transformed and healed.

Hutton Farmer's Market

Hutton Settlement Farmer's Market 2018
PHOTO CREDIT: David Milliken

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