All Posts By

Niko Kirby


Colorado Senators Pay DUG a Visit to Celebrate EPA Grant

By News
Senators Hickenlooper and Bennet looking at the worm compost bin with DUG's Jungle Judy.

We are thrilled to celebrate this achievement in community and energize toward action and positive change. 

On Tuesday, November 21st, DUG welcomed Colorado Senators Bennet and Hickenlooper, as well as Councilwoman Torres, to the El Oasis de Lorraine at Focus Points Family Resource Center Community Garden. At the celebration, we shared DUG’s history, presented our expansive programming, and discussed our future plans for the EPA grant. 

In 2023, DUG received a $500,000 grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). DUG was one of 5 grant recipients from the EPA’s Environmental Justice Collaborative Problem-Solving Cooperative Agreement Program as part of President Biden’s Inflation Reduction Act, where the program’s grants totaled almost $4 million.

With the generous grant, DUG plans to expand our efforts through community garden and food forest expansion into six neighborhoods in West Denver, including Barnum, Barnum West, Sun Valley, Valverde, Villa Park, and West Colfax. Planting successful and community-maintained fruit-bearing forests and community gardens in an area of Denver with low tree canopy is a way to reduce the heat island effect, regenerate urban land, and promote healthy food access to the Denver metro area. With the grant, DUG plans to build at least six community gardens and nine food forests, expanding from our current 200 community gardens and 20 food forests (as of November 2023).

In this pivotal moment in DUG’s 45-year history, it was important for us to host at one of our beloved gardens. Having been an active community garden within the DUG network since 2012, El Oasis de Lorraine at Focus Points Family Resource Center Community Garden was an ideal choice. The event began with welcomes from DUG’s Director of Corporate Partnerships, Nessa Mogharreban, who acknowledged the positive impact the Colorado senators had on making this dream a reality.

“We want to thank our Colorado senators for their support and stewardship of the EPA grant. We’re incredibly excited to put the funds to work to enhance public health and environmental justice in Denver’s West Area, which is represented by Councilwoman Torres.” — Nessa Mogharreban, Director of Corporate Partnerships (DUG)

Multiple photos from the Senators' visit to DUG garden El Oasis de Lorraine

The morning continued with DUG representatives, Kelly and Jolon, sharing DUG’s incredible history and program growth with the crowd. Councilwoman Torres and  DUG’s Director of Gardens, Lara, followed with an explanation on the Denver West Area Plan and the anticipated positive impact of the EPA grant in the area. Lara shared information on the positive environmental and health benefits of food forests and community gardens, including increased biodiversity and carbon sequestration. We rounded out the event with DUG composting wizards “Jungle Judy” and Kristi sharing a hands-on worm composting demo that we could not get enough of. With dozens of community members and volunteers, nonprofit and government partners, and more, we relished in the chilly air, enjoyed hot coffee, and got dirty with worms (Senator Hickenlooper even dug his hands in to pick out a squirmy worm to show the kids).

Stay tuned with our DUG Digest news articles or on Instagram to follow our progress!

Additional Resources

We also wanted to give a big “thank you” to our community gardeners and volunteers, as well as Conservation Colorado, Denver Parks & Recreation, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), FEED Media, and Focus Points Family Resource Center for all of your support in organizing, hosting, attending, and celebrating with us! 

Photo of Master Composter class of 2023 at the 2023 Harvest Happy Hour

Our 2023 Harvest Happy Hour Celebrates Our Volunteers!

By News

Thank you to all of our volunteers who supported DUG’s 2023 programming!

As a way to celebrate and appreciate the amazing work our community has done this past year, DUG hosted our annual Harvest Happy Hour in early November at Zeppelin Station in Denver’s RiNo Arts District. More than 200 volunteers showed up for the event from across various programs, including our Tree Keepers, Master Composters (now Community Composters), Garden Leaders, and more! At the event, we cheered, handed out awards (see the list below for winners), ate incredible food, and passed out door prizes.

Photo of Master Composter class of 2023 celebrating at the 2023 Harvest Happy Hour

Read below to see all of our award categories and winners!  

Our Volunteers
  • Everything Everywhere All At Once Volunteers: Haley and Aidan
  • Garden Club Volunteers: Sarah and Lisken 
  • SPOT Volunteers: Our amazing power couple, Ann and Jeff!
  • Workday Heroes: Bill and Dean 
Garden & Garden Leaders Awards
  • 1st Year Gardens: South Lakewood Elementary (Garden Leaders – Cassie and Jennie)  and Cheyenne Arapaho Park (Garden Leaders – Satya and Nathan)
  • Resiliency: Focus Points (Garden Leaders – Brandon and Solomon) and Montbello Five Loaves (Garden Leader – Denise) 
  • Transformation: McMeen (Garden Leader –  DeziRae), Honor (Garden Leader – Sun Mi), Blue Spruce (Garden Leader – Kristine), and Wyman at DC21 (Garden Leaders – Max and Anna) 
2023 DUG Corps

Christina, Kourtnie, Rayanna, and Sarah

Tree Keepers 
  • Wheat Ridge – for excellence and leadership in community integration and food sharing: Miranda and Charlotte 
  • Samuels – for high site standards and leadership in perennials management: Lindsey
  • Tennessee Gateway – for dedication, creativity, and persistence in the face of unique challenges: Ruth, Kyle, and Cassandra 
  • Program Champions – for special and sustained effort in supporting Tree Keepers and the Food Forest Initiative as a whole: Bill and Krystyn “Yy” 
Master Composters

A special thank you to our 2023 Master Composters for all of the work they put in to dive deep into all things composting, recycling, and community engagement. In this ten-session course, participants learned about the science of composting, resource conservation, and how to use recycled materials to support gardening efforts. Please celebrate our graduating class of 2023, including: Anna, Brittney, Christina, Dean, Diana, Donna, Estevan, Jessica, Kris, Kristy, Laurie, Leah, Marlee, Mia, Michelle, Natasha, Rob, Ryan, Sami, Taylor, Tom, and Zoe! 

Want to join our 2024 Community Composters Training? Fill out this interest form, and we’ll notify you when applications open!

We want to thank everyone who supported this event and especially our 1,368 volunteers (plus 25 SPOT volunteers!) who collectively worked over 4,773 hours to support various DUG programs in 2023! 

We would also like to give a special thanks to the following brands and organizations for helping make this event happen:

  • Alveóle, for tabling and providing a delicious honey tasting as well as educating our guests about the importance of beehive colonies and beekeeping in Denver
  • Balcony Buddies, for donating various colorful railing gardens for our door prizes!  
  • EUREKUS, for donating incredible educational tech bloom kits for our door prizes!  
  • GrowOya, for donating 6 Oya Watering Pots for our volunteer door prizes – these watering pots help slowly supply water to garden plants all year round!
  • le’ Bakery Sensual, for the incredible worm cake they made for our Master Composters – they truly are the coolest cakes in Denver!
  • r.Cup, for bringing reusable water cups for guests to use to minimize plastic waste
  • Scraps, for providing composting services to ensure our event was as low waste as possible
  • The Office of Climate Action, Sustainability, & Resiliency (CASR) for their generous donation to help make this event possible!  
  • Wag Hotels, for donating pup-friendly boarding stays for our door prizes!
  • Zeppelin Station, for offering up their space for us to use and for donating specially-curated bar drinks for our guests (and for our board member, Adam Larkey, for making it happen!)

Educating the Future Earth Stewards One Seed at the Time

By Faces of DUG

Meet Miss Nune, avid gardener, ECE teacher and earth steward. 

Edurne Artazcoz Glaria, or Miss Nune as she is known by students, teachers and parents at Maxwell Elementary where she teaches Early Childhood Education (ECE), works with 3 year-old students with a variety of abilities using sensorial experiences to engage them with the world and each other.

Miss Nune grew up gardening thanks to her father, who loved to grow their own produce constantly digging in the soil, and using the produce in their homemade meals. “I’ve always loved to garden,” she said, “it is such a great way to connect with nature and I want to share that with my students.”

She has adapted the curriculum to support the learning of her diverse students, from creating visual materials to provide kids with autism a different way to communicate their needs with her and their classmates, to teaching in Spanish to welcome native-Spanish speakers, creating a safe and nurturing environment for all. 

Gardening is one more tool Miss Nune uses to engage the kids in sensorial nature-driven education. She follows the natural cycles of plants to teach kids about seasonality, “We had been talking about pumpkin seeds and showing them what a plant looks like. Then DUG brought us mini pumpkins for each child to be able to paint one and take it home. The kids loved it!” she said. 

Our Youth Education team has been working with Miss Nune since September of 2021 when she joined a cohort of teachers working to incorporate gardening education in their curriculum. “When I heard of the program I immediately applied because I saw the potential it could have on my students,” she said.

She incorporated vermiculture education with the support of our Youth Ed team and a Master Composter, who first taught the cohort how to care for Red Wiggler worms. “The kids love to take care of the worms,” she said, “they are our pets, and we check them every week. The kids feed them leftover fruit scraps and make sure their home is comfortable, it’s one of our favorite activities!”

In the spring, Miss Nune received a few Grow A Garden kits and divided the plants among the kids. The kids took care of seedlings at school for a couple of weeks before planting them in the community garden. Plus, Miss Nune had extra plants, so each kid could take one home. “That was a great activity!” she said, “because we talked about plants as living beings and the importance of nurturing them to keep them happy. Taking care of the plants made them feel capable and independent, regardless of their abilities.”

In September, they went to Miller’s Farm to learn more where food comes from. “The kids got to dig potatoes, and we talked about how potato chips coming from potatoes like those, they were amazed!” she said. And at the community garden they harvested cherry tomatoes and zucchini, “the garden was such a great way to teach them about colors, shapes and textures, plus they loved eating the cherry tomatoes!”

When the opportunity came about to have a cooking class with Slow Food Denver, as part of our Seed To Plate To Regenerate partnership program, Miss Nune was the first to schedule a visit. “It was great, although the instructors were nervous at first to work with 3 year-olds, they had a great time and the kids absolutely loved it!”

To close the gardening year, Miss Nune and her students planted garlic in the garden with the support from our Youth Ed team. “This was a great activity for the kids. We were able to work on our motor skills,” she said, “we worked with each child’s ability to help them dig a hole, plant the garlic clove with the pointy end up, cover it and then water it. They loved watering!”

“I’m so grateful for all the support from DUG! I love working with the Youth Ed team and I’m always eager to join any of the program activities they have to offer. It has been a great partnership,” said Miss Nune.

Our Youth Ed team has also enjoyed working with Miss Nune, her infectious energy and inspiring commitment to her students’ education fills our hearts. Thank you, Miss Nune!

Interested in learning more about our wonderful DUG community? Read our other amazing Faces of DUG pieces!

Alvéole, Building Community Around Bees

By News

Community gardens are green oases in an urban environment. The perfect place for bees and other pollinators to find food and shelter.

Our partnership with Alévole aims to build awareness around the importance of green urban spaces as habitat to promote biodiversity that supports the vital work of pollinators, and other beneficial insects, as part of more sustainable cities and food systems.

Alvéole’s mission is to reconnect people with nature in cities by making people fall in love with bees. Working with honeybees as ambassadors to build ecological awareness and their connection with our agricultural system. Falling in love with honeybees allows us to open our eyes to the many bees and other pollinators in our environment. In Colorado, there are 946 native species of bees, out of more than 20,000 around the world. 

We chatted with Tasha Wilson, Alvéole Beekeeping Team Manager here in Denver, about their work and the partnership with Denver Urban Gardens. This interview had been condensed.

How did the DUG + Alvéole partnership begin?  

In 2021, Alvéole started working with 1% for the Planet and using their standardized system and support to allow all of our cities across North America & Europe to partner with environmental organizations that were local to them.  We  value doing meaningful work and this partnership allows us to make meaningful community impacts with one of the best Denver environmental organizations.

DUG is greening our urban environment and adding to the biodiversity helping protect habitat for our pollinators. Many urban gardens are tucked in spaces that were previously underutilized. We do the same thing, we tuck beehives in underutilized urban locations, so our missions align.

The Denver Alvéole team has been a constant in many of our events, could you speak about this part of the partnership?

We work to connect people with nature through bees and so they will protect our environment in their daily lives. Participating in DUG events through volunteering has offered us opportunities to connect with people in a wide variety of ways . Our 1% for the Planet partnership requires us to donate 1% of our revenue to an environmental non-profit through either monetary donation, marketing or volunteer in-kind donation. Our volunteer efforts have included hosting educational kiosks and volunteering at the Garden Leader symposium and Fall Plant Sale. We also helped plant the food forest at The Urban Farm, volunteered at the Nome Park Community Garden workday, and supported the garden built at Earl Lee Evans Sensory Garden at FireFly Autism.

Image of person wearing "Alveole" shift holding tray covered in bees.

Education is part of your mission, could you share how that has manifested with DUG?

We have provided educational opportunities with our workshop offerings at the three DUG gardens that have adopted beehives. We have engaged with the broader community at tabling events through honey tasting and live bees. We also did a virtual beekeeping 101 class for DUG’s community, and now during fall we are giving workshops for the garden clubs at three elementary schools. 

Education is part of who we are at our core. And we work with honeybees as our ambassadors and our educational partners. Honeybees open up our eyes to the importance of all bees. Once you learn to recognize a honeybee in the environment you’ll start to recognize more and more bees, our wild native bees, a huge world of bees we were not connected to before. It reminds us that we need to protect the environment for all bees, not just one bee. 

We are so grateful for our partnership with Alvéole and for the focus on increasing biodiversity in urban spaces and protecting habitat for our bees and other pollinators. Their work allows us to step into the world of bees, and our work is to help protect the environment for all our bees to thrive. 

Reclaiming Food Sovereignty Through Gardening

By Faces of DUG

Meet Jat, community gardener, high school student, and food justice advocate.

Jat Martinez gardens at the Commons Community Garden at Confluence Park where he finds a way to reconnect with the natural cycles of the earth and reclaim food sovereignty. 

Jat, a junior in high school at the Denver School of the Arts, joined the community garden this summer after growing many plants indoors at home and wanting to take his green thumb to grow food, connect with the community, and begin his own food revolution. 

We caught up with Jat on a sunny fall afternoon at the Commons Community Garden to chat about his gardening journey.

Why did you decide to join a community garden? 

I love plants. At home, I have many decorative indoor plants and I have grown some other things like herbs on my balcony, but I wanted to try to grow food to understand what it takes and to connect more with nature.

Gardening gives me the opportunity to work with the circular cycle of the earth. I can put seeds or a plant in the soil in the spring, and see it grow and flourish in the summer, and now that the season is ending it is going back to the earth. It’s so beautiful!

Why is that so important to you? 

Because we have separated ourselves from nature so much that we don’t understand the cycles of the earth and how we are part of it. I mean, look at how our food is produced now and how the system is not working, at least not for everyone. The industrial food is not good for us, and many are going hungry. It [the food system] needs to change. 

Food is a right we are not getting. You see how many people struggle to get good food, and that’s not right. I find the homelessness crisis frustrating and the idea of giving food to others is a way to create a revolution. So being able to grow food that I can then share with others is great, it makes me feel connected with a cause.

How has this community garden helped you feel connected to the community? 

I love this community garden! Everyone is so nice and they share their gardening knowledge with me. When I started in May, I didn’t really know what to plant or how to work my plot, but everyone has been so welcoming and helpful. I like that this garden is an oasis in the middle of the city. I mean, if you ignore the buildings as you walk around this park and this garden it feels like you are in the forest. It makes me think of Princess Mononoke, you know the movie. 

What produce did you grow this summer? 

I grew brussel sprouts, which I had no idea how to harvest but they looked really cool. I also grew cabbages, onions, lots and lots of basil, marigolds, and tomatoes, a lot of tomatoes. My mom made some really great tomato sauce, because I don’t like raw tomatoes or tomatoes by themselves, but I like them in things, you know.

And now that the season is ending the plants are still filled with green tomatoes so I need to figure out how to use them.

Are you planning to return next season? 

Yes! I’ve learned so much this first season and I already have so many plans for my 8×4 plot for next year.

I want to try different produce, maybe some greens like bok choy or spinach. I really like spinach. It’s the one vegetable I can add to any meal. And maybe some flowers!

Grateful for a gardener in your life? When you make a gift in honor of a gardener you know–or in honor of all of DUG’s gardeners–you help provide spaces for Jat and others like him to grow cabbages and tomatoes while learning from other gardeners.

Donate by November 22 and your gift will be matched (up to a total of $10,000) by a generous donor who appreciates DUG’s critical work in food, climate, and community. 

Preserving the Harvest Without Canning – Techniques and Recipes

By Education, Fall, Fall Gardening, Winter

Food preservation is a way to extend the life of fruits, vegetables, and herbs at their peak of freshness and vibrancy with the goal to use them during the colder months of the year when fresh produce can be more expensive and not as nutritious.

We covered canning techniques on this article, however, there are many other food preservations techniques, like fermentation, drying / dehydrating, and vinegar pickling that can help you diversify your preservation practice.

Basic guidelines for preserving food

  • Use fresh, seasonal produce. The idea behind preserving food is taking advantage of the abundance during the harvest season and the high concentration of nutrients and flavor of seasonal foods. 
  • Make sure the product is fresh: avoid moldy or heavily damaged produce, as it won’t preserve as well. 
  • Maintain a clean working environment.
  • Wash hands with soap and water, and clean/sanitize your area to avoid cross-contamination. 
  • When canning or fermenting you’ll use glass jars [or crocks, if you’d like for fermentation], all which need to be thoroughly cleaned and sanitized/sterilized before using them.
  • Do not skip this step, especially when canning.
  • Follow recipes closely to ensure consistency, especially when canning as it is meant to be a shelf-stable product left at room temperature. 
  • Label all your preserves with name and date.
  • Store preserves and dried products in a cool, dry environment. 
  • Freeze or refrigerate items that are not shelf stable.

There are many fermentation techniques that involve different types of beneficial bacteria and molds. We’ll focus on lacto-fermentation – a technique that relies on lactobacillus bacteria to create lactic acid to help preserve the food. To ensure success we will always use salt as a medium to allow lactobacillus to colonize the foods while keeping other microorganisms out. 

Fermented foods provide a higher nutritional value than canned foods due to the live cultures (think yogurt) which are high in probiotics beneficial to our health. Incorporating fermented foods into our diet is considered a good way to improve our gut health, which improves over health.

There are two ways to use salt to preserve food:

  • Dry Salting: As the name suggests, for this method add the salt directly to the vegetables [or fruits] and allow it to draw liquid from them to create their own brine and kick start fermentation. This is how we make sauerkraut, for example. 
  • Brine: A brine is a salt-water solution that is added to vegetables or fruits to kick start fermentation. This is how we make sour pickles, for example. 
Lacto-fermentation is done at room temperature – preferably between 65-75 degrees Fahrenheit. Depending on the product and temperature the fermentation can take anywhere between 3-10 days. In cooler temperatures the fermentation takes longer and in hotter temperatures the fermentation is much faster. 
Once your ferments (sauerkraut, pickles, hot pepper sauce, etc.) have achieved the desired sourness you can place them in the refrigerator where they can stay for many months. Overtime things like sour pickles can get soft, otherwise the lactic acid and salt will preserve them well while refrigerated. Below are two sample recipes.


  • Cabbage (of any kind)
  • About 2 tsp of salt per pound of shredded cabbage
  • Spices about 1 tsp per pound
  • Glass jars – preferably wide-mouth
  • Time and patience!

Steps: (here is a quick video of the process)

  • Wash the cabbage and peel off the outer leaves
  • Save one leaf to use as a topper
  • Shred the cabbage
  • Toss the salt with the cabbage and let it stand for 10 minutes
  • Massage the cabbage crushing it with your fingers to release liquid
  • Pack the soft cabbage into the jar and make sure to cover it with the liquid
  • Leave to ferment at room temperature for 5-7 days (depending on temperature, fermentation happens quicker with the summer heat)
  • Release the gasses a few times a day by gently unscrewing the lid
  • Refrigerate once the kraut is sour enough to your taste

Sour Pickles

  • 1.5 lb pickling cucumbers 
  • 2 cups water (non-chlorinated) 
  • 1.5 tbsp salt 
  • 1 tsp black peppercorns
  • ½ tsp dill seed
  • 1 small handful dill 
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 bay leaf 
  • 1 qt glass jar


  • Cut the ends of the cucumbers and then slice them in half lengthwise 
  • Add the spices, herbs, and garlic to the jar 
  • Arrange the cucumber in the jar to just below the lid line
  • Dissolve the salt in the water and pour it in the jar and close it
  • Leave to ferment at room temperature for 5-7 days (depending on temperature, fermentation happens quicker with the summer heat)
  • Release the gasses a few times a day by gently unscrewing the lid
  • Refrigerate once the pickles are sour enough to your taste

Vinegar Pickling
Vinegar pickling, also known as quick pickles or refrigerator pickles, is a simple way to preserve vegetables for a few weeks in the refrigerator. 

The basic recipe for vinegar pickles includes water and vinegar (apple cider or white preferably) plus sugar, salt and spices in various amounts to form a vinegar brine. You can also preserve foods like peppers in vinegar, or infuse light vinegars with herbs and flowers. Below is one sample recipe.

Vinegar Pickled Beets

  • 6 medium beets (about 2lbs) cooked, peeled and sliced
  • 1 small red onion, sliced 
  • 1 cup white wine vinegar + 1 cup water
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 1 ½ tsp salt + any spices you’d like (ex. black peppercorns, fennel seeds, etc)

Place the cooked beet slices and onions in a pint jar. Bring the other ingredients to a quick boil in a non-aluminum pot and pour them into the jar. Close the lid and allow it to cool at room temperature. Refrigerate for up to three months.

Drying / Dehydrating

Drying or dehydrating is an excellent way to preserve herbs, fruits, and vegetables. The best herbs to easily dry are those with woody stems like rosemary, thyme, oregano, savory, marjoram, mint and lavender. You can place them on a cooling rack or drying rack, or hang them in small bundles, and allow them to air dry for a few weeks.

Herbs like cilantro, parsley or basil take a little more care as their flavor can dissipate as they dry, thus a dehydrator can be a faster, more reliable way to dehydrate them. These are great for freezing in ice cubes alone or as part of sauces like pesto, chimichurri, or salsa verde. 

Fruits and vegetables
A dehydrator is the fastest and easiest way to dry fruits or vegetables. Thinly slice the fruit or vegetable and follow the manufacturer’s guidelines. Keep all dried fruits and vegetables in a cool, dry place, labeled with name and date. You can use your dried fruits and vegetables as part of dishes, simply rehydrate them before using.

Freezing fruits and vegetables at their peak also preserves their nutritional value, plus saves you money. Think of summer corn, which sometimes can be as affordable as 10 ears of corn for $1, in comparison to the price out of season.

To freeze fruits:

  • Clean and dry them well
  • For berries freeze whole. Cut all other fruits into slices or chunks and lay them flat on a sheet pan and place in the freezer. Once frozen, place them in bags and return to the freezer. 

To freeze vegetables:

  • Blanch vegetables before freezing them. Blanching reduces their water content and sets their vibrant color by releasing gas trapped within the cell walls. 
    • Cut them in the desired size, then add to boiling water and boil for 1-2 min
    • Strain and plunge in ice water to stop the cooking process
    • Dry well and lay them down on a sheet pan and place in the freezer. Once frozen, place them in bags and freeze. 
    • For greens like spinach or kale, after blanching, squeeze them using a clean towel to remove as much water as possible.

Freezing herb and other sauces:

  • Soft stem herbs like cilantro, parsley or basil are great for sauces like pesto, chimichurri or salsa verde. Pesto, due to the cheese and nuts, is not recommended for canning but is great for freezing. 
  • Make the sauce recipe of your choice and freeze it in small containers to use throughout the cold months to brighten up dishes. 
  • Alternatively, you can puree the herbs with a bit of water and freeze it in ice cube trays. Once frozen, place them in bags.

Preserving the Harvest: Three Recipes to Preserve Tomatoes

By Education, Fall, Fall Gardening, Summer

With the bounty of produce coming out of our gardens or at the farmers markets, this is the best time to take advantage of the peak harvest season to preserve summer flavors to brighten up meals during the colder months.  

There are many food preservation techniques like drying, vinegar pickling, fermentation and canning. In this article, we’ll tackle canning techniques focusing on water-bath canning and briefly mentioning pressure canning as a comparison.

Canning is a fairly recent preservation technique in comparison with fermentation, salting or drying/dehydrating. It came as a product of pasteurization ideas to eradicate all possible microorganisms from food and allowing the cans/jars to be shelf stable at room temperature for long periods of time. Unfortunately, the process created some unexpected issues with Botulism caused by the clostridium botulinum, a bacteria that thrives in anaerobic environments (no oxygen) low in acidity. Learn more about it here.

We’ll focus on water bath canning using foods high in acid like fruit jams, salsas, sauces, and pickles. We won’t touch on pressure canning, which is used for foods low in acidity, like vegetables, soups or beans, among others, and which require more careful treatment and much higher temperatures to kill all possible pathogens. 

Guidelines for Water Bath Canning

  • Acidity: Food acidity levels at or below 4.6% are ideal for water bath canning. Therefore, when preparing recipes it is vital to stick to the guidelines until you feel comfortable enough to make changes that won’t compromise the ratios of acidity and, in the case of jams and jellies, sweetness.
  • Recipes: Use recipes from reputable sources only and make sure to follow them to prevent food safety issues. The National Center for Home Food Preservation offers detailed guidelines for different types of foods and different preservation techniques, plus a good base of recipes to get you started. 
  • High altitude adjustments: The processing time of the jars in water bath canning increases with altitude. Most recipes require 10 extra minutes of processing time in a water bath at our Denver altitude. 
  • Equipment: A large pot with an internal rack to keep the jars from up from the base of the pot. Canning tongs, canning funnel, ladle, glass jars and lids.
  • Sterilizing the jars: When canning it is important to sterilize the jars properly by following the recipe’s guidelines. Add jars to boiling water and boil them for 10 minutes. No need to boil the lids and bands, simply add them to hot water just before you need them. Follow  the recommended time for each recipe you find online or in books. Do not skip this step.

Canning tomatoes is one of the best ways to preserve the summer bounty. The basic guidelines include adding acid directly to the jars before processing, which accounts for low acidity in newer tomato varieties. Do not skip the vinegar as it protects the tomatoes from possible botulism contamination.

Canned Tomatoes
-Vinegar at 5% acidity or lemon juice
-Pint size glass Jars 

  • Peel and cut the tomatoes into quarters and put them in a large pot. Bring them to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring. Boil for five minutes. 
  • Fill clean canning jars with the hot tomatoes and add 2 tbsp vinegar or 1 tbsp lemon juice and 1 tsp salt per jar. 
  • Process in a boiling water bath for 45 minutes. Take the jars out and let cool at room temperature before storing.

Basic Salsa

You can spice up this basic salsa recipe with your preferred hot peppers, cilantro and any spices you might like.

  • 3 quarts tomatoes, skinned, cored and chopped
  • 2 quarts chili peppers, chopped 
  • 2 ½ cups onions, chopped
  • 1 cup (5%) vinegar
  • 3 tsp salt
  • ½ tsp pepper

Combine all ingredients in a large pot, heat to boiling, and then simmer for 10 minutes, stirring frequently so it doesn’t scorch. 

Fill pint jars with the hot salsa, leaving ⅛-inch headspace. Process pints in a boiling water bath for 20 minutes. (time has been adjusted for altitude to up to 6,000 ft).

Green Tomato Chutney
6 cups finely chopped green tomatoes
1 large, tart apple, peeled, cored, and finely chopped
2 cups light brown sugar
2 cups apple cider vinegar
1 1/2 cups raisins
1 organic lemon, sliced into thin slivers (include peels, discard seeds)
1/4 cup peeled and minced fresh ginger root
1 clove garlic, peeled and minced
1-2 chile peppers, minced
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon ground coriander seeds
Pinch of ground cloves

– Put all of the ingredients in a large, non-reactive, pot over medium-high heat
– Boil, stirring often, until the green tomatoes and the apples are very soft, the chutney is thick enough when a wooden spoon dragged across the pot bottom leaves a trail that doesn’t fill within a few seconds
– Process in half-pint jars in a boiling water bath for 35 minutes

Summer is a Great Time to Plan Your Fall Garden

By Education, Spring, Summer

With the oppressive heat and fierce summer sun of mid-summer, it might seem too early to begin preparations for your fall garden. However, just like with spring garden planning, getting a head start will help you make the most of the season.

Extend the Growing Season

Fall gardening is an opportunity to extend the growing season and use season extension techniques like hoop houses to continue growing and harvesting until the deep freeze of winter arrives. Soil temperatures inside the hoop house are several degrees warmer than those outside, allowing for slow, but consistent growth.

As the weather cools, the plants accumulate sugars in their leaves to avoid freezing, leading to a ‘sweeter’ overall taste. Hoop houses hold in moisture so with slower crop growth in late fall due to temperature changes and lower light intensities, crops require less supplemental watering. Click here to read more about hoop houses.

Grow Cool-Weather Crops

Cool weather crops, including lettuces, spinach, radishes, peas, and any vegetables in the brassica family such as broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage or kale, are great to sow by seed as a succession to the warm weather crops currently in the garden.

Our Fall Gardening Guide offers a list of crops and range of dates to plant or sow them, soil preparation techniques and more.

You can also read our Five Tips for Fall Gardening to get you started.

Fall is also the ideal time to plant garlic, refresh our gardens with compost, and add a fresh layer of mulch to keep the soil protected as temperatures drop.

If your goal is to allow the garden to rest after you harvest all warm weather crops, then sowing cover crops is a great way to replenish the soil nutrients allowing it to rejuvenate and be ready for the spring. Cover crops act like a blanket, preventing soil loss from wind and water erosion. 

Their roots hold the soil in place and help to improve soil structure. During the process of decomposition, microorganisms and the decomposing cover crops produce sticky substances that glue soil particles together.  This opens up air channels and also increases the water holding capacity of the soil. Click here to learn more about cover crops.

To help you make the most of fall gardening, stop by our annual Fall Plant Sale on Saturday, August 12th, 2023 from 10am – 3pm., where we’ll have cool-weather organic seedlings, cover crop seed, garlic for pre-order (pick up will be in early October), fruiting trees, compost, mulch, and Birdie garden beds.

In addition, we’ll have educational resources and activities to prepare you for a successful season extension.

Our 2022 Impact Report is Out

By News

DUG’s on a mission for people, plants, and planet.

Each year we publish our annual impact report, a review of the previous year with a focus on what we’ve done, what we’ve learned, and how we grow. And each year we find ourselves having the same reaction – “WOW! We did a lot.” And 2022 was no different.

(New here? Hi, we’re Denver Urban Gardens, DUG for short. You might have seen our signs around town.

We are the largest independent community garden network in the country. And so much more. We’re on a mission to provide access, skills and resources for people to grow healthy food in their community and regenerate urban green spaces. You can learn more about our mission and vision here.) 

We like to think about how our work impacts people, plants and planet–and the spaces where they intersect. We’re working toward a sustainable urban future in metro Denver where people are connected to the earth, each other, and the food they eat.

Want to get in on the action? There are so many other ways to engage with DUG, too! Garden with us, grow your skills, volunteer, donate, find us online, join our mailing list, or become an Ambassador

Help us power our work! 

Join our community of people who champion people, plants, and planet. Become a Sustaining Steward!  

Our Next Community Garden is Coming to Union Station Neighborhood!

By News

Denver Urban Gardens, Central Platte Valley Metropolitan District, Downtown Denver Partnership Partner to Breathe New Life into Neighborhood.  

We are excited for the plans to transform a fenced-off area between Wewatta Street and Chestnut Place on 17th Street in lower downtown (LoDo) Denver into a dynamic community garden, sound garden and event space. Working in partnership with the Central Platte Valley Metropolitan District (CPVMD) and Downtown Denver Partnership (DDP) we will design, build and manage the community garden and other enhancements slated to open in Spring/Summer 2024.

“This project is such a great example of a diverse partnership of private, nonprofit and government sectors coming together to create a place that improves the downtown experience,” said Andrew Iltis, vice president, Planning and Community Impact for Downtown Denver Partnership. “A community garden will give the district a way to manage a high-visibility area of downtown and get neighbors directly involved in improving their city.”

For two years, the space on 17th Street in front of Whole Foods Union Station and at the entrances to the RTD transit depot was closed to protect and preserve the land and trees during the period when there were far fewer people in the area due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Since the 1970s the modern community garden movement has been transforming neighborhoods across the United States. Reactivating this particular space as a DUG community garden will not only provide land for nearby apartment and condo dwellers to grow their own fresh, healthy, hyper-local organic food, but also build community and offer the gardeners a way to take positive climate action by enhancing biodiversity, sequestering carbon, building healthy soil and minimizing water use.

Recent research proves that community gardening positively impacts physical and mental health by reducing stress and anxiety, and increasing fiber intake and exercise which helps prevent cancer and chronic diseases. As many people are still struggling with the isolation imposed during the COVID-19 pandemic and the Surgeon General recently declared an epidemic of loneliness, this benefit of community gardening remains especially poignant.

In addition to garden plots, the design will incorporate the creative use of sound and light to develop a tranquil environment for all users whether they are gardening, enjoying a meal or simply seeking respite from a busy day. In addition to the redesign, efforts to re-energize the area through activation include a weekday lunchtime concert series featuring local artists, free Saturday morning yoga classes and a pumpkin patch in the fall.

“We looked at a number of options to activate this space,” said Anna Jones, manager of the Central Platte Valley Metropolitan District “We see this as an opportunity to re-think how public space is activated in a post-pandemic urban landscape. Our philosophy is centered on the notion that active, healthy community-based stewardship will breathe new life into the area in ways it hasn’t seen before.” 

“Over the past four decades, DUG has honed its model for community gardens so that they end up being much more than a catalyst for growing fresh produce,” said Linda Appel Lipsius, CEO of DUG. “These gardens are places where residents build strong connections with others while healing their bodies and minds. The DUG team is thrilled to bring this unique community asset to the heart of LoDo, addressing the desires and needs of residents as demonstrated by a long waitlist for the nearby Commons Park Community Garden.” 

If you are interested in joining the wait list for this garden, please email