This past Saturday, February 18, we hosted more than a hundred Garden Leaders from across the Denver Metro Area for our 2023 Garden Leader Symposium. It was wonderful to see smiles and welcoming hugs as we reconnected in person after two years of virtual symposiums.

We started the day with refreshments and casual conversations before Lt. Governor Diane Primavera officially kicked off the meeting. The Lt. Governor introduced the four DUG Corps members who will be supporting our work this growing season, “Serve Colorado has partnered with DUG and Colorado State University Extension to bring on four AmeriCorps members who will be helping with youth education and leading workdays over the next nine months.”

From the opening remarks, we transitioned to Garden Operations, as our team, Lara, Eliza, Taylor and Marisa, presented the Garden Leader Resources DUG has, how to find them on the website, and who to contact for different needs and scenarios.  

One of the goals of this year’s symposium was to workshop the topics of building community and engagement in the garden, and what a supportive growing environment looks and feels like. For both of those, garden leaders and DUG team members huddled in smaller groups for breakout sessions to share ideas and resources.

We also held a panel discussion about “Cultivating Safe Space: Supporting Unhoused Community Members in the Garden,” with the support and expertise of community and government organizations, like – Terese Howard from Housekeys Action Network Denver, Chris Richardson from Wellpower/STAR, Lana Dalton, Director of Unsheltered Homeless Response HOST, Vi Bright, Mutual Aid Monday, Kristine Thomas, Colorado Coalition for the Homeless.

Our keynote speaker, Evan Harrison from Kiss the Ground, addressed the topic of Regeneration and the importance of redirecting Farm Bill efforts and funds toward a regenerative agriculture model that supports us all.

It was amazing to see all the community members that keep our gardens running in one space. We look forward to an amazing 2023 growing season! 

And we are especially grateful to our sponsors Specialty Woods Products, Birdcall, Everyday Pizza, Boochcraft, Illegal Petes, Great Divide Brewing Co. and Patagonia Denver.