Founded in 2006, Common Threads helps kids across Whatcom County learn to make food choices that are good for their bodies, their communities, and the environment. Through gardening, cooking, and eating, we create joyful opportunities for kids to practice teamwork, learn about the natural world, and take risks and try new things in a safe and supportive environment.
Originally, Common Threads was envisioned as a farm-based learning center. By 2009, we recognized that in order to have the most positive impact on the most kids, we needed to go to where the kids are — schools! To date, the majority of our gardening, cooking, and eating programs have taken place on public school grounds, during the school day, in collaboration with classroom teachers and food service staff. Schools are a great place to connect kids with healthy food because kids from all walks of life are there every day.
In addition to our school-based programming, Common Threads offers spring break and summer programs, which have taken place in various locations over the years, including Lummi Island, Bobbibrook Farm, and the Western Washington University Outback Farm.
In 2017, Common Threads identified an opportunity to better meet the nutritional and recreational needs of our community’s youth farthest from opportunity through after-school supper clubs and summer breakfast and lunch clubs which take place at affordable housing complexes and community centers.
In 2018, Common Threads began partnering with food education and food access focused organizations across WA state through a statewide AmeriCorps team. The goals of these partnerships are to improve efficiencies and information sharing across programs while stream-lining the administrative management of the relationship with Serve WA (Washington State’s AmeriCorps Commission).
In 2019, an internal evaluation of our school gardening and cooking programs revealed some interesting findings, including (much to our delight) that the impacts of our program extend far beyond connecting kids with garden grown produce to outcomes like inspiring joy, bravery, teamwork, and care for the natural world. Learn more on our Impact & Annual Reports page.
In March 2020, the Coronavirus pandemic required schools to close suddenly and indefinitely. Common Threads’ adapted to community needs by supporting emergency food distribution, growing food in school gardens to share with hungry kids and families, offering online cooking classes, microgreens kits, and supporting the farm to freezer initiative in collaboration with the Bellingham Food Bank, Bellingham Public Schools and the Whatcom Community Foundation.
In spring 2021, AmeriCorps Food Educators were able to return to in-person garden lessons in schools, taking various precautions to keep everyone safe.