Food Field Trips: Denver – The GrowHaus (Part 2 of 3)

Remember last week when I shared the deets about the awesome Sprout City Farms? Well this week, I'm telling you all about ANOTHER social enterprise in Denver I visited recently while in town for the Social Enterprise Alliance Summit '15 conference, The GrowHaus.

And stay tuned for part 3 of this post next week!

Inside the main greenhouse (haus).

Inside the main greenhouse (haus).

The GrowHaus

The GrowHaus, an urban greenhouse in Denver

The GrowHaus is a community based non-profit organization in a low-income area of Denver. It’s located in a neighborhood that otherwise would not have much access to healthy or fresh food and that's where The GrowHaus comes in.

This cool social enterprise is located in a 20,000 square foot greenhouse. The space is used for three things: (1) food production, (2) food education, and (3) food distribution.

Food Production: The GrowHaus has a 5,000 square foot hydroponic farm (plants grown in water, not soil) and a 2,500 square foot aquaponics farm (plants grown in water inhabited by fish) both of which grow greens that are sold to Denver-area restaurants and grocery stores. This production is the main source of income for The GrowHaus.

Food Education: After many conversations and brainstorming sessions with individuals living in the local community, the staff at The GrowHaus created workshops and programs for kids, teens, and adults. These educational events teach about nutrition, gardening, and economic development.

The GrowHaus Hydroponic farm. So many calories of lettuce!

The GrowHaus Hydroponic farm. So many calories of lettuce!

Food Distribution: To distribute food to community members, The GrowHaus created a small pay-what-you-can food market on its property. Shoppers who live in the neighborhood pay for groceries at-cost and shoppers who don't live in the neighborhood (like the many visitors from all over town) pay higher prices for groceries. Community members can also receive food through a weekly produce box program priced based on need.

A small demonstration of aquaponic farming: a closed system with fish and plants.

A small demonstration of aquaponic farming: a closed system with fish and plants.

Combining these three branches into one non-profit organization while trying to bring in revenue is not an easy task. The GrowHaus has successfully merged community development in Denver's Elyria-Swansea neighborhood with the production, distribution, and selling of food. This is an inspiring example of a social enterprise bringing in significant funds from business, which then support the programmatic social mission.

What do you think of The GrowHaus? Let me know in the comments below.

And read about the final organization in this Food Field Trips post next week as I wrap up Denver!