Food Field Trips: Denver - Denver Urban Gardens (Part 3 of 3)

Denver Urban Gardens

You’ve read about Sprout City Farms and The GrowHaus. Today, I’ll wrap up the Food Field Trips post on Denver by telling you about a community-based non-profit that’s been around as long as I have! I am so grateful I was able to visit these three diverse and inspiring organizations in Denver. Props to the Social Enterprise Alliance for setting these tours up at its annual Summit.

Denver Urban Gardens

Not so stealthily taking a picture in the reflective door.

Not so stealthily taking a picture in the reflective door.

Denver Urban Gardens (D.U.G) is a non-profit that supports the creation and maintenance of local community gardens. Its staff started creating community gardens 30 years ago and since then they have built 150 gardens throughout the city of Denver.

These gardens are small, but they are meaningful. They provide healthy food, healthy habits, and gardening education.

To create a garden, Denver Urban Gardens works with community members to identify great locations and then partners with city agencies to set up lease agreements, water pipes, and community leadership. Once created, the gardens are entirely run by the neighborhoods in which they are located.

Visiting the thriving community garden next-door to Denver Urban Garden’s headquarters was a lot of fun. It is a beautiful spot and seeing all the individual garden plots brings to mind (realistic, I was assured) images of community members working here together on the weekends.

The funding structure at this non-profit is completely grant and donation based. Therefore, this organization isn’t really a social enterprise as it has no earned income stream (read more on social enterprises here). D.U.G. take note, I believe there is potential for revenue! A couple of ideas: (1) community garden members could teach local gardening classes, or (2) garden members could partner up to sell their extra produce to local distribution groups---like The GrowHaus!

My big takeaway from this visit: I need to investigate options for community gardening in my area!

A vibrant community garden run by Denver Urban Gardens.

A vibrant community garden run by Denver Urban Gardens.

So what do you think? Are you inspired by this series on urban farming in Denver? The three organizations I profiled are examples of interesting, innovative agriculture projects located within the city limits of Denver. The people working at and leading these organizations are mission-driven folks who choose to put their time and energy toward improving the food system as a way of saving the world. That’s something I seriously respect!

I have a hunch there are great things going on in your city too (I know there are in LA---more on that in a later post). When you come across an inspiring organization fixing our food systems, post its name below and I may just take a field trip there in the future!