Our Story

We believe that it takes a village to address food insecurity problems. Our part of the solution is rooted in compassion and understanding.


The mission to help other people eat is personal for H.O.P.E. Gardens co-founders Rich & Julie Brunson, who each experienced food insecurity problems early in their lives.

In 2014, gardening became a more prominent part of the couple’s life. While he was recovering from a concussion, Rich found solace and comfort in their backyard garden. Around the same time, the couple learned about regenerative agriculture. Though they had always tended a garden, it wasn’t very successful — until they tried the regenerative approach.

As a result of these experiences, Rich and Julie felt compelled to offer hope to people struggling with food insecurity and teach them a sustainable way to feed themselves.

The couple established H.O.P.E. Gardens in 2015.

The name H.O.P.E. Gardens is based on an idea that came to Rich when he was a homeless and hungry teenager: that the word hope could mean “Helping Other People Eat."

How We Work

We are experiential, environmental, educational ... and fun! As we teach and empower students and families, we embrace our guiding principles.



H.O.P.E. Gardens is part of a larger system including government agencies, food pantries, food distribution agencies, and farmers, growers, and next door neighbors dedicated to addressing hunger in west Michigan.




We partner with a diverse team of teachers, administrators, community volunteers, undergraduate students, master gardeners, and other nonprofit agencies.


Our approach is not one-size-fits-all. We strive to include students, families, and communities in planting gardens and growing and sharing food.


Regenerative gardening recreates the conditions in which plants naturally thrive. It’s inexpensive and easy to start because it doesn’t rely on chemicals, tilling, or any special equipment.

Unlike a traditional garden, a regenerative garden is covered with mulch, which retains water and nutrients for the plants, minimizes weeds, and enriches the soil for future planting.

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