All Posts By

Niko Kirby

Check out DUG on Colorado and Company!

By News

This summer, we’ve been dropping by Colorado and Company with 9News to introduce audiences to our fabulous DUG community and gardens. Explore the segments below.

Composting with A1 Organics and Denver Recycles

Learn to Backyard Compost or Become a Master Composter!

Tips and Tricks for your Garden This Summer at West Wash Park Community Gardens

Building Community Through Gardening at West Colfax Community Garden

Finding Wellness in the Garden at West Wash Park Community Garden

Show your support for DUG

By News

‘Get Dirty with DUG’ Striped Tee

The Football Jersey Tee is a unisex crewneck t-shirt by LAT Apparel. The style features white arm stripes and a hemmed chest panel. This shirt is made with a 60/40 blend of cotton and poly. The exception is the White/Black which is 100% cotton. All fabric is combed and ringspun for a soft texture and premium feel.

$28.99

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‘Get Dirty with DUG’ Premium Tee

The Premium Unisex Tee is a classic crewneck t-shirt usually by Next Level Apparel. This shirt is made with a 60/40 blend of cotton and poly. All fabric is combed and ringspun for a soft texture and premium feel. 3 colors available.

$24.00

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‘Get Dirty with DUG’ Premium Pullover

The Premium Unisex Pullover Hoodie is made by Bella + Canvas. Made of 52% combed and ringspun cotton and 48% polyester, it’s soft and cozy–perfect for those brisk Colorado mornings.

2 colors available.

$40.00

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DUG Garden Tote

Show off your love of DUG with a high-quality branded tote with two front pockets! These sturdy tote bags are made of 100% natural cotton canvas, making them ideal for carrying of all your garden supplies around the garden, and cute enough to bring just about anywhere.

Measures 18” × 16” × 3”.

$25.00

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‘I DIG DUG’ Insulated Water Bottle

Stay hydrated while helping reduce single-use plastic with our DUG branded water bottle. Boulder-based Ecovessel’s premium vacuum-insulated water bottle keeps your drinks hot or cold all day long. Made from premium 18/8 stainless steel, it features TriMax® triple insulation and keeps drinks cold up to 90 hours and hot up to 18 hours. It also includes a removable strainer for tea, fruit, and ice cubes. The fitted silicone bumper adds protection against everyday drops.

$20.00

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DUG Sticker

Display your love of DUG wherever you go! This high-quality die-cut sticker features our DUG logo surrounded by plants and pollinators. Add it to your water bottle, your laptop, your wheelbarrow, your car–you name it!

4″ x 5″

$5.00

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Seeding Self-Sufficiency

By Faces of DUG

#25: Meet Jolene, Palmer School community gardener

“I moved up to Denver from Arizona; I wasn’t much of a gardener in Arizona, because the climate is really challenging to garden in. I got involved with DUG because I saw the community gardens at the elementary schools, and my son was starting kindergarten at Park Hill. I put in a request to be at the garden there, so that was how I got initially connected– just seeing the gardens in the community and reading the signs attached to the different community gardens. It was actually interesting because as I was looking for school choice options and schools to send my son to, the ones I liked also often had the DUG gardens. 

This year I’m growing lemon cucumbers, sugar snap, peas, butternut squash, golden yellow beets, and green string beans. I also have two types of tomatoes. One’s called pineapple tomato, which is yellow with a little bit of red in it–and the other, I’m not sure what it’s called, but it’s red with a little bit of purple in it. 

I’m really proud because over the last two or three years I’ve started to harvest my own seeds and then regrow them. This year, all my sugar snap peas are grown from seeds that I collected last year. I also grew marigolds this year from seed, because last year with the pandemic, I spent probably like $30 for a flat of marigolds. They were just outrageous. You couldn’t find them anywhere, so I harvested the seeds and I grew all my own, which was enough for my garden while also giving away marigolds to around 10 other people, too.

I first started by saving butternut squash seeds and cucumber seeds because those were easy. Then last year, I added the sugar snap peas from seed. I attempted tomato seed that I had harvested using the method where you squeeze out their juice onto paper towels and then you plant the paper towels, but it didn’t work out this year. They didn’t take, so I adopted some tomato plants that someone was getting rid of–I did try training the tomato plants in buckets to see if they stay more contained and don’t go so crazy!

Over the years, I’ve also learned to save my own eggshells and my own coffee grounds to add those to the dirt. Saving your own seeds and growing your own seedlings feels very empowering. You don’t have to spend money or go get something from somewhere else–you can just generate it yourself year after year.

At Palmer, I’ve helped support another gardener who is in her 80s with a lot of health issues. I started to take food to her and then found a couple of other elderly people in my community to take some food to. One was in my apartment building and the other was an old professor who had retired from MSU. Then, I just started really going crazy because I didn’t like seeing any food wasted, so I would just harvest everything that people didn’t want!

I harvest a lot from the garden in Palmer; there are a lot of school plots that were beautifully-landscaped and planted with all sorts of things that came back year after year like rhubarb, kale and even asparagus, which grows like a weed. Because the school families weren’t coming and taking it, I started to take it to the Park Hill food bank. I now take produce there on Mondays and Wednesdays throughout the summer. From what I read and understand there’s definitely been an increased need.

I have experienced food insecurity over the course of my life, both growing up as a child, and then as a single parent–but I had access to resources, like the snap food stamp program, which actually lets you buy seeds or buy plants to garden with and create that self-sufficiency. I think maybe one year I used food stamps to purchase the things at Walmart to plant. For me, it’s about self-sufficiency and growing your own food, and how that feels to feed yourself and feed others through your efforts. That’s what drives me a lot.

I think it’s hard sometimes to connect with neighbors or people in the community because our sense of community is so spread out and not just where we live. I’ve learned so much from my fellow gardeners about what to do with my soil. I started growing dahlias, which are very temperamental and really get eaten by Japanese beetles. This is my first year using their tubers with their roots from last year to regrow them. That’s something that if I hadn’t known someone at the garden who was doing it, I probably never would have attempted it either.

For people that are just getting started, I would just say don’t be intimidated. It’s really easy. Dig a hole, throw some seeds in it, throw some water on it, and don’t be intimidated to start somewhere. For example, in my garden for the first couple years, I always planted too much stuff, and it got too crowded–everything was growing over each other. But you know, five or six years in, now I have this little grid system, and you can really clearly see where everything is and is supposed to be. You learn different techniques over the years. I encourage people to play around, too. If it doesn’t grow this year, just stick with it. Try it knowing you can’t fail because it’s not really failure. It’s just learning and the chance to grow something later on if it doesn’t work out the first time.

I think one of the greatest benefits for me is just the time I spend outside, working hard, getting dirty– it feeds my soul, and it improves my mood. I’ll spend five or six hours out in the sun and the heat, and just be so happy with what I have accomplished in the end. There’s a lot of mental health benefits to gardening and so I selfishly garden for that. Similar to giving food away, there’s a lot of intrinsic value. It feels good for me to know I’m feeding other people; there’s also a lot of pride in seeing that you grew something that a week ago was just an inch tall and now it’s got food on it.”

More Faces of DUG

Faces of DUG
October 30, 2020

Looking back on a lifetime in the garden

“Although my mother wasn't an active gardener, I think that sometimes interests skip generations. I remember my grandmother saving seeds of her treasured cleome (we called them 'spider flowers') whose…
Faces of DUG
July 20, 2020

Discovering friendship in the garden

“It was quarantine and I wanted to take my daughter to experience the outdoors once a day. I went on Google Maps and tried to look for green spaces that…
Faces of DUG
February 16, 2021

Building new skills for a bright future

"I found out about DUG through my school, where I also work part-time. I'm majoring in Environmental Science, and my advisor encouraged me to get connected. I'm from Louisiana, and…
Faces of DUG
June 22, 2020

Gardening through a lifetime

"I come from Africa. I like gardening so much because my parents were farmers in my country where I was born and they had a big farm. They taught me…

Micro network activation with the DUG Corps

By News

With 188 gardens and around 17,500 gardeners, our DUG network has grown quickly over the last 10 years. After soliciting feedback from the community during our 2020 Listening Tour, we recognized that we could more efficiently organize our network to better connect with our gardeners to ensure all gardens had the resources they needed. From our brainstorming, two ideas emerged:

  1. to create a ‘corps’ that could be ‘hands in the soil’ for DUG to ensure our gardens were resourced equitably and address any deficiencies
  2. to develop ‘micro networks’ within the DUG garden network so that neighboring gardens could connect and build relationships to organize collaborative workdays, learn from one another, and be a support when problems arose

After several months of diligent work, we are thrilled to share we now have seven micro networks within the DUG community garden system:

  • Green- SouthWest Sugar Snap Peas
  • Maroon- Northside Nasturtiums
  • Orange- Midtown Mung Beans
  • Purple- Central Cucumbers
  • Coral- Southern Spicy Peppers
  • Yellow- East Central Endive
  • Blue- Eastern Eggplants

In June, we also launched our inaugural cohort of the DUG Corps, who have been busy activating these micro-networks through garden workdays and community gatherings.

Their efforts began with a massive public awareness campaign to community gardeners, sending information about the networks as well as invitations to upcoming micro-network events. Then they got to work in the gardens themselves!

In the last two months, our DUG Corps have visited about 50 out of our 137 public community gardens to check in on the gardens and assess whether they were meeting the requirements of our Baseline Infrastructure Initiative. They have also planned and organized outreach for 15 micro network events, along with attending more than 10 workdays or community events that the gardens themselves organized in order to lend a hand and support their work.

In addition to their community organization work, they have additionally supported or led around 17 corporate or volunteer workdays at under-resourced gardens. Perhaps most excitingly, they have also helped activate three gardens that were in a state of neglect by organizing massive plot cleanups and engaging neighbors to become gardeners!

We are so thrilled with all of the work the DUG Corps has put in so far this season, and can’t wait to see how our micro networks continue to strengthen in the coming years.

If you’d like to request the DUG Corps visit your garden to support a workday or a community engagement event, please contact dugcorps@dug.org

The Garden in August

By A Year in the Garden, Education

by Senior Education Specialist Judy Elliott

August marks a transitional time in the garden. With daytime temperatures that can stay in the low to mid-90s during much of the month and nighttime temperatures falling a bit to the mid-50s, it can be confusing, to say the least, for our veggies, herbs, and flowers.

Rain is sporadic, winds seem constant, and the air is thick with the smoke from fires in Colorado and other western states. At this time of the season, many veggies and herbs seem to be not quite as vigorous in their growth and show increasing incidences of insect infestations or disease progression. Considering that from the beginning to the end of the month, we’ve lost a little over an hour of daylight, it’s not surprising that plants are stressed.

Let’s consider some strategies that either extend the productive lifespan of our garden or renew its possibilities for the fall months that are right around the corner. 

E |Eliminate diseased plants + those with heavy insect infestations 

  • Members of the cucurbit (summer & winter squash, cucumbers, pumpkins) are beginning to show signs of powdery mildew. The fungi responsible for this disease produce spots or patches of white to grayish talcum–powder–like growth
  • The disease is more prevalent as the weather becomes hot and dry and as plants age
  • To keep this in check, avoid overhead watering, pick off affected leaves, and promote air circulation by selectively pruning off excess growth
  • If needed, apply a product containing potassium bicarbonate (‘Bi-Carb’) available, as are many other organic remedies at ‘Arbico Organics’: www.arbico-organics.com
  • Any crops showing spots or blotches on the leaves should not be utilized in compost piles

X| Extend a helping hand

  • Donate or preserve what you can’t realistically eat fresh
  • Donate your skills (helping to care for a plot, ‘strong back brigade’, gardening expertise, calming presence to others in your garden community. What we give returns in so many unforeseen ways

T | Tend your garden on a regular basis

  • Adhere to regular routines of cultivating, renewing mulch, and watering at the base
  • Remember that plants that are thriving, receiving regular care, and are harvested frequently while fruits are young remain productive for a longer period of time than those that receive sporadic care routines

E | Enjoy early morning time in the garden

  • Turn over leaves: pick off eggs of cabbage butterflies, wash off aphids, prune off fading flowers, cut back basil that’s in flower to make pesto, cultivate, and water
  • This is special time for renewal, so enjoy these little moments of noticing and care for yourself and your plants

N | Nurture soil, plants, and spirit

  • Spread handfuls of compost around all existing plantings and lightly cultivate it into the soil
  • Foliar feed leaves with a dilute solution of 1 tsp. kelp/qt. of water
  • Lovingly investigate soil under mulch and notice the biodiversity. It’s home to red wiggler worms, sowbugs, millions of beneficial bacteria & fungi that feed the underground community that in turn, feeds everything above
  • Know that you are a part of creating this miracle of abundance

D | Designate areas for fall crops

  • As you remove ‘old’ crops, begin to plan and plant for fall
  • Early August is not too late to plant fall peas. Soak them overnight in 1 tsp. kelp/qt. of water
  • Mid – August.: Plant small quantities at 2 weeks intervals of lettuce, spinach, arugula, radish, cilantro
  • Early August: Plant greenhouse-grown transplants of broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, and kale
  • Cool-season crops planted in warm soil should be planted a bit deeper than in spring & mulched immediately
  • Save space in late September and October for garlic and fall cover crops

August can be an exciting time to evaluate, renew and plan. Focus on one or more things that were a joy to grow this season and think about deleting the ‘heartaches’ from your next year’s garden.

Quick Garden Tip

Another benefit of visiting your garden in the early morning cool, in addition to the peace and tranquility of the special moments, involves the absolute joy that can be found in:

Zero Cost, Minimally Invasive, 100% Effective Pest Control

  • For those noxious Japanese beetles that decimate everything, including Virginia Creeper vine, roses, pole beans, zinnias, marigolds  prepare a solution:
    • 1 cup water with around a Tbsp. of any kind of dish soap
    • Take the bucket to the garden
    • Stand quietly with cup underneath affected leaves
    • Brush off beetles into their bath. They will not emerge
    • Enjoy
    • This also works for cucumber and/or squash beetles in early morning, before they fly

Mark your calendars for our Fall Plant Sale

By News

Our Fall Plant Sale is back!

Mark your calendars! Our Fall Plant Sale will be Saturday, August 7th from 10am-1pm at DUG HQ within the Posner Center.

We’re excited to be bringing back our popular Fall Plant Sale to the community, along with a free ‘Tips for a Fall Garden’ workshop from Senior Education Specialist Jungle Judy Elliott running at 11am and 12pm.

Come get cool-season plants + cover crop seeds, stock up on organic compost, and pre-order your fall garlic while enjoying time with other DUG community members.

We’ll also be hosting the SAME Café food truck on site. Come for the plants, seeds, and soil and stay for the delicious food!

DUG + MLB = a home run!

By News

On Friday, July 9th 2021, Denver Urban Gardens partnered with Spark the Change Colorado and Major League Baseball for a day of volunteer service at three different DUG gardens to kick off All-Star Week!

DUG hosted more than 70 volunteers at the Horesbarn Community Garden, Morey Middle School Community Garden, and at Delaney Farm. Working together, the groups completed a variety of projects including building a shade pergola, laying down pathways, planting fruit trees, and weeding beds.

Despite scorching temperatures, the day was fun-filled and highly-productive as volunteers came together in service of community and food access. The  partnership with Spark the Change Colorado and MLB was a winning combo, for sure!

Images courtesy of Major League Baseball.

Exploring a New Career Path

By Faces of DUG

#24: Meet Alex, our first Fransisco Cordero Legacy Apprentice

Our longtime contractor and friend Fransisco Cordero passed away in November 2020 due to complications with COVID-19. In 2021, we established the Fransisco Cordero Legacy Apprenticeship program to provide pathways into career fields with urban agriculture. Alex Oldham is our first apprentice with the program.

“I’m 20 years old and live with my foster parents. With the pandemic happening, I had to stay in a lot. Because they’re older, I didn’t want to risk them getting sick for me going out or anything. So I picked up a night shift at FedEx. I was doing that for a very long time. Then my brother-in-law introduced me to a friend. And I guess, he also knows the Executive Director that works over here at DUG. He had been sending me a few different applications of places. When this one popped up, I was interested because growing up, I worked outside doing farm-type work with my grandfather in Oklahoma.

In Oklahoma, the atmosphere is different (than in Denver). Being in the country is different. The smell of manure is everywhere. Taking care of cattle, making hay, riding the tractor, and stuff like that. But it’s cool. I also just wanted the change of being out in the daytime, in the sun after being out at night all the time.

Not everything is necessarily gardening with what we’re doing. Some days, we have to use wheelbarrows, and we’ll put really heavy gravel down, just scoop it all in there. And then carry it over to lay it on the pathway. The similarities of being outside in the sun and working hard is what carries over to this. There’s a lot of work to do – just seeing what every garden needs. If they need their fence fixed, we’ll go do that. I’ve gone to Home Depot to get some parts for water tank adapters. I’ll be mowing lawns, doing wherever (the gardens) need. Oh, and a lot of weed pulling, too!

I’ve been learning a lot from Nessa [Director of Physical Infrastructure and Community Engagement] and about what DUG really does. I like seeing everything growing. So far I’ve learned that we have like 180 something gardens all around Denver and Lakewood and stuff. I didn’t expect that a lot of them are refugee community gardens.

Sometimes the fruits or what they want to buy at the store they don’t have from their own places, so they can just grow it in their garden. That’s really cool to see. The price of getting a plot for the year isn’t that much. So I think that it gives them the opportunity to keep making the food that they want, without having to make a lot of money to go buy food. Because I know coming to America and getting jobs and stuff like that is a lot harder.

 I’m a really picky eater. I like all kinds of fruit, but vegetables are not my thing… so everyone is trying to give me vegetables, like sugar snap peas or something like that. That’s the only thing I’ve eaten so far. They’re really secure about their stuff and they like everyone to see what they’re growing. They’re always asking me to try something new. 

I think me being also a person of color, and then seeing all these other people of color and different ethnicities that are from other countries come into these gardens. Helping in any way that I can help them is why I feel like I’m really here. I’m helping the people who really need the gardens to grow their food. So that’s why I like it, I like helping them and want to continue to be in the position to help other people with their gardens.”

More Faces of DUG

Faces of DUG
August 6, 2020

Sharing knowledge and healing in gardens

“When I came back from the Peace Corps, I thought, “we are really in trouble.” We have a system that’s based on fossil fuels and it’s unsustainable. The Senegalese were…
Faces of DUG
April 12, 2021

Gardening as a family

"2020 was our first year with DUG. We got approved for a no-cost To-Grow Box. The pandemic was in full swing at this point, and we were spending more time…
Faces of DUG
January 11, 2021

Gaining (soil) security in retirement

"I found out about DUG’s Grow a Garden program 6 years ago when I worked at a nonprofit called Servicios de la Raza. We would tell all of our clients…
Faces of DUG
July 13, 2020

Digging deep into DUG’s roots

Marty is a North Denver community and social justice activist and a pioneer of Denver’s urban garden landscape. The first community gardens were started when a group of Hmong women…

There are some new faces at DUG!

By News

As part of our Baseline Infrastructure Initiative, we’ve activated our first-ever DUG Corps along with the Fransisco Cordero legacy apprentice program and a youth green team through Groundwork Denver

Meet the DUG Corps Members

Our first two Corps Members, Anastasia Hill and Eliza Greene, are providing daily ‘boots on the ground’ support for our 180+ gardens. Their work focuses on supporting community-led workdays with extra hands, organizing and leading ‘micro-network’ (clusters of DUG gardens located near one another) educational and social events, and visiting all of the gardens to connect with Garden Leaders and gardeners about their needs, troubleshooting as necessary.

Anastasia started with DUG in 2017, helping to lay the foundation for garden micro-networks as part of her Environmental Leadership graduate thesis project with Naropa University. With a focus on food justice, social systems, and community care, she continued volunteering as both gardener and garden leader in the following years. Originally from Florida, she’s fallen in love with the Colorado ecosystems, including both land and people, and is passionate about bringing individuals closer to each other and the environment that helps them thrive.
She brings over 10 years of non-profit experience in a variety of roles, all involving community activation and connection. In her free time, she’s a Jiu Jitsu practitioner and enjoys gardening at home with her cat or lounging in parks with friends and plenty of snacks.

Eliza joins the 2021 DUG Corps with a passion for gardening and community. She grew up around gardening and farming in Massachusetts and worked in landscaping seasonally for many years. Eliza brings her love for digging in the dirt and helping things grow with her to her role at DUG. With a background in sociology and community organizing, she also brings curiosity about the world around her and dedication to making it better. She loves that community gardens are a place of skill-sharing, education, empowering people, and building community resilience.

In her free time, Eliza is most likely going for a walk in nature with her rescue dog Jasper, lost in a good book, or attending a community event.

We are still hiring for one more seasonal DUG Corps position. BIPOC, LGBTQIA+, non-native English speakers, and other underrepresented folks are encouraged to apply!

Meet our Fransisco Cordero Legacy Apprentice 

Our inaugural apprentice, Alex Oldham, works closely with our Director of Physical Infrastructure and Community Engagement, Nessa Mogharreban. Under her guidance, Alex is working to learn the ropes of urban garden construction and maintenance. Together, they lead our volunteer workdays, attend to maintenance calls in the garden, and work on new infrastructure projects related to the BII.

Alex is our newest member of the team. He is a very outgoing yet nonchalant person who is easy to connect with. Alex is a natural athlete with a lot of motivation to be in better physical shape and reach higher levels of skill. He loves all kinds of fruit and is trying to add more vegetables to his menu.  He grew up doing farm work with his grandfather and is familiar with getting out and doing physical activities. He loves to spend time alone to watch movies or vibe to some music and is a lowkey superhero nerd.

Learn more about Alex in our Faces of DUG project.

Meet our youth green team with Groundwork Denver

Baz, Dante, Greg and leader Magali are part of Groundwork Denver’s program of youth environmentalists, acting as the organization’s task force to implement projects to improve Denver’s urban environment. The principal goals of the Green Team are to prepare youth for educational and career success, encourage them to become engaged members of the community and demonstrate alternative career pathways in fields like natural resources and sustainability.

Under the supervision of our Director of K-12 Education, Rob Payo, the green team works in tandem DUG Corps members to activate underutilized gardens by clearing weeds, laying compost, and repairing plot borders. The green team also maintains our DUG demonstration plot and joins volunteer workdays as needed.

As part of our partnership with Groundwork Denver, the green team is introduced to nutritious cooking through bi-weekly cooking classes at DUG HQ, where they learn how to prepare food that is harvested from the gardens!