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Faces of DUG

Building new skills for a bright future

By Faces of DUG

#19: Meet Kourtnie, first-year gardener at Maxwell Community Garden

“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 we didn’t have access to community gardens there. Since I was young, I’ve had an interest in nature, wildlife, being outdoors, and growing things. It’s always been a part of me. My family had a garden plot for the first time last season at the Jardin de Esperanza Maxwell School Community Garden. I was pregnant with my fourth child at the time, and actually, my daughter was born a week ago!

My ultimate goal is for my family to live on a homestead and grow all our own food.

So before I started, I attended a DUG workshop to extend my knowledge. I was so impressed by all of the speakers and the effort that DUG put into it. Everyone was willing to give and help. Our first season went well, we’ve learned so much already! I met so many new people at Maxwell and loved seeing each of their unique gardening techniques.”

DUG’s To-Grow Box helped us a lot. I was surprised by the large amount and variety of seeds and plants it included. The plant care guide was great for beginners who don’t know where to start. Without DUG’s help, we wouldn’t have been able to grow so much and such a variety.

It’s expensive to buy your own materials. Our garden helped put food on our table and decreased our grocery bills.

My kids love eating fruits and veggies, so I was spending a lot of money at the store. One of the best things we grew were cherry tomatoes. There were so many of them that we had some every day! Our harvests were always plentiful because we planted things at different times throughout the season, allowing us to see continuous growth.

The garden made my kids so happy; they couldn’t wait to go every day! They were continually asking, “Is there something ready for us to go pull?” They loved watering and digging together. They were fascinated by the garden, and as soon as we picked something, we rinsed it right away and they would go to town! My partner helped with all the heavy stuff. He was amazed every time he saw how much our garden had grown. He was on-board with tasting everything and was constantly surprised at how good it all tasted. I loved seeing his reactions! It became a fun thing for our family to do together.

Gardening isn’t too rigorous, it was very relaxing for me. As an added bonus, I was able to keep an eye on all four kids while doing it! Overall, gardening is very satisfying. Our family plans to garden again at Maxwell this season. I want to do an internship with DUG and give back what they have given me through volunteering. 

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Faces of DUG
August 12, 2020

Teaching the next generation about the magic of gardening

"I believe that every moment is a teaching moment. Getting the kids to see the world in a different way is a fascinating thing. Every time you get just one…
Faces of DUG
September 4, 2020

Creating a piece of home in the garden

“I am from Central Africa. I couldn’t find seeds from my country to grow. I said, “If I cannot find this vegetable I will have to move back to my…
Faces of DUG
December 5, 2020

Building community during COVID

"I am the Garden Leader at the Cedar Hill Community Garden at Green Mountain United Methodist Church. We have been working on the building of our garden for six years…
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Teaching Resilience through Healthy Cooking

“My students have so much going on in their lives right now. With everything they hear on the news, it’s a lot for them to process. What I like about…

Gaining (soil) security in retirement

By Faces of DUG

#18: Meet Carin, backyard gardener and Grow a Garden participant

“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 to sign-up. I’ve continued with the Grow a Garden Program every year since, even after I retired when my dad got sick and I had to take care of both of my parents. 

The Grow a Garden program was what initially got me into gardening. I had always wanted to start, so it was the push I needed to do my research and jump-in. Now, I encourage everyone to sign up! It makes it so convenient. I love going to my pickup site to get my seeds and plants; it’s very clean, organized, and easy to find. 

I’ve developed an area in my mom’s backyard to use for my garden. She has many elderly neighbors in their 80s and 90s who aren’t able to leave their homes. Whatever I grow in abundance, I give to them, and they give to their friends. Everyone shares in the wealth. They’re so grateful because they can’t go to the grocery store, especially during COVID, and they live on a fixed income. 

I’m hoping more people will look into this program. It can save you so much on your grocery bills! Since I’m retired and only living on Social Security income, I wouldn’t have continued growing my own food without it. The price of organic produce is so high these days. This program makes it so that I know there’s no insecticide in anything I grow. For those like me who haven’t had good luck at grocery stores, this program makes food more readily available and even abundant. If you freeze your harvest, it can last throughout the year. I freeze everything, so I don’t have food waste. I still have tomatoes in my freezer! 

Gardening is peaceful, and it brings joy to people. Most people need something to do. Especially someone like me, who’s retired with no kids in the house. Other people do house cleaning or washing dishes, but I garden. It’s nice to be able to take care of something. Eating something you grew yourself gives you great satisfaction. What’s most fun about gardening is watching your plants grow. You get so excited!

All the programs DUG provides are fantastic for people who don’t know how to garden but want to start. Everyone needs to know about DUG–although then, you might grow too quickly, hah!” 

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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…
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
October 23, 2020

Cultivating love in the garden

“I signed up for a community garden plot at a DUG garden before I ever heard Daniel's name. I was excited to grow things and put down roots, as I…
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…

Building community during COVID

By Faces of DUG

#17: Meet Jean, Garden Leader at Cedar Hill Community Garden

“I am the Garden Leader at the Cedar Hill Community Garden at Green Mountain United Methodist Church. We have been working on the building of our garden for six years since we first received Lakewood City Council approval in Ward 1.

Our garden is going to be a bee garden. We have beekeepers and are going through the permitting process. We also have a daycare called “Tiny Hearts” and they have a garden plot as part of their STEM program. We surveyed our community because we wanted to model the garden after what they wanted it to become. We had to raise money for building. So we started grassroots fundraising. We were able to raise about $40,000 within the community through plant sales, selling bricks, and through memorial donations. 

If you think about planting a seed, not every seed is going to grow. Whether it’s grant writing or an anonymous donor, you put seeds out there, and some of them will germinate. And if it doesn’t happen one way, it’ll happen some other way. Sometimes very unexpectedly. That’s how our garden developed; it became a strong foundation for our community in just one season.”

“My husband surprised me with a To-Grow Box for my birthday this past May. It was right in the middle of COVID. We were in the middle of building all 20 plots in our garden, and then COVID hit, which limited how many of us could build at a time. But we persevered and finished.

My mother was a master gardener, but I had never planted in a community garden before. So this was new for me. Every plot ended up under cultivation. We used the garden to feed our community. I couldn’t believe how much food the plants and seeds from my To-Grow Box produced!

The To-Grow Box included a lot of hot peppers. My sister-in-law is from Vietnam, she came as a refugee when she was nine years old. She uses a lot of spicy peppers in her traditional cooking, so she and I had a lot of fun with the peppers from my To-Grow Box. She is connected with the Vietnamese community around the garden. They loved using swiss chard, which is a lot like bok choy. The garden connected these communities together. It connected our Green Mountain Community with the folks who are shut-in. It connected homeless people, it connected people living in the section eight housing next-door.

My plot became the heart of the garden. I would go to water my plot, and would realize that someone had already watered it, and I ended up with this entire network of people (gardeners and non-gardeners alike) helping me harvest. We all went out and visited those people that were shut-in and brought them fresh veggies. We sat in their garages or next to their beds and chatted with them. Our faith is oftentimes referred to as the “ministry of presence.” We go out and listen to our community. We don’t have the answers. Just being there with someone can make all the difference. We found recipes for them to use with the produce we gave them. One of our elderly church members loved snap peas and tomatoes, so that’s what I would bring to her. I sent her pictures of the garden. She is now going to donate the benches and pergola for the shade area. These community members are now donating leaves to our garden to nourish the soil before the spring season comes. 

We also had little kids from the neighboring section eight housing units come to the garden and I told them that they could harvest from my plot. They use the garden parking lot for skateboarding and bike riding. We are going to host a bike rally for them. They love snap peas. One of their moms would pick zucchini from the garden. Her kids didn’t like zucchini, but she made it into bread, which they all loved. So I showed them how and when to pick zucchini, and they started doing it on their own. It was like an Easter egg hunt for them. 

“One To-Grow box has fed over 100 people. And that number doesn’t even include all the folks who walk through the garden and just have a snack on their way to their destination. I started keeping track of how many people we delivered food to, but once my list got to 80 people, I just stopped counting. When you harvest the fruits from a garden, it will just keep on producing. The garden reached into more than one community. It led us during COVID.”

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Faces of DUG
January 11, 2021

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"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…
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Gardening for mental wellbeing

“My family had a garden growing up in southern Louisiana. I Ioved harvesting, watering, and watching our plants grow since I was a little girl. In college, I built raised…
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August 21, 2020

Inspiring lifelong curiosity through gardening

"My favorite part of being in the garden is being able to see the vegetables grow. We’re growing tomatoes, cucumber, and on the back there’s broccoli. And we’re also growing…
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…

Teaching Resilience through Healthy Cooking

By Faces of DUG

#16: Meet La'Tara, 3rd grade teacher at Swansea Elementary School

“My students have so much going on in their lives right now. With everything they hear on the news, it’s a lot for them to process. What I like about DUG’s virtual cooking classes is that they allow my students, their parents, and their teacher to get on one call, make a meal together, and enjoy some informal quality time. After the third cooking class, one parent said to me, “This is so fun! I hope we can continue doing this.” It has been a way for us to get together and hang out, which is something that’s missing from a lot of people’s lives right now because of COVID. When we were teaching in-person, my kids would say, “Oh, this is so sad. I can’t hug you!” They couldn’t talk to their friends because of social distancing. 

These classes not only have allowed us to make a meal altogether, but they have also given us a chance to talk about our lives and share what’s going on in each of our worlds. They have helped spur more personal conversations and allowed us to talk outside of the academic room. My students brought their little brothers and sisters, parents, grandparents, aunts, and other family members to join in. It has been a family affair; no students joined the classes alone. 

DUG’s cooking classes have complimented my normal curriculum. My students have a hard time following multi-step directions and sticking things out till the end. We all follow along as Ms. Riley lists the instructions for each recipe, reinforcing the positive behaviors I am trying to teach my students. When you start with raw vegetables and end with a finished product, can taste it (and it tastes good), it excites my students. They are learning how to follow directions and how to persevere because, in the end, there will be a great prize. It helps build my students’ intrinsic motivation and teaches them that eating healthy is good for you. They are learning that you don’t need extravagant, expensive ingredients to cook a healthy meal. You can use ingredients that come from the earth that are inexpensive, plentiful, and accessible. And you can even grow them yourself!

The students were able to learn about new vegetables they’ve never tried before. One class that blew us all away was when we cooked a pasta recipe with kale. At one point, there was complete silence because everybody was eating. All you could hear was, “This is so good! I never thought kale could be this good!” One of my students’ dad used kale instead of bread the next day to make him a sandwich. They are incorporating lifestyle changes in their own lives and passing them onto the generation above them.

I believe that my students’ understanding of vegetables and healthy eating has changed because of DUG’s cooking classes. Many students thought that vegetables aren’t something they want to eat because they lack flavor and won’t be satisfying enough. Before one of the classes, one of my students said to me, “Ms. Clayton, I think they messed up my bag! Are these people vegetarian? Why isn’t there any meat?” I explained to her that good sources of vitamins, minerals, and healthy calories come from vegetables. I told her that I had recently gone to the grocery store to buy some ground beef, and it was so expensive that I couldn’t afford to buy it. I want my students to learn that there might come a time when we won’t have such easy access to the foods we’re used to eating, but we can still sustain ourselves with the food that comes from the earth, which is better for us. 

The only recipe we cooked that the students didn’t like had radishes and beets in it. They said to me, “Ms. Clayton, can we say something truthfully? This is disgusting!” I explained to them that everyone has a different palette; different people like different things. During another class, a student noticed that some of the carrots had shoots growing out of them. They said, “Can we eat this? It’s deformed! Doesn’t that mean that it has pesticides in it and isn’t good to eat?” I told them that not every carrot grows perfectly out of the ground. That “deformed” carrot is just as nutritious as any other carrot. I told them, “Just peel it, chop it, and eat it!” And they did.

DUG’s cooking classes have built a greater sense of community in my classroom: with my students, parents, and within their family units themselves. We’ve gotten to know each other through sharing family recipes. The students’ ideas of healthy eating and community gardens have been elevated to another level. My students even asked me if we could start gardening at our school and share the produce in their lunchroom with food stations that are labeled with titles such as, “These carrots were provided by the Third Graders.” This program has given my students a sense of ownership and excitement about farming, natural foods, gardening, and community. We’ve even decided to continue the cooking classes all on our own once a month!”

Pictured: La’Tara’s daughter showing off recipes cooked in class

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July 20, 2020

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“My family had a garden growing up in southern Louisiana. I Ioved harvesting, watering, and watching our plants grow since I was a little girl. In college, I built raised…
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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…
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#15: Meet Anna, DUG program intern, Bruce Randolph Community Garden

“My family had a garden growing up in southern Louisiana. I Ioved harvesting, watering, and watching our plants grow since I was a little girl. In college, I built raised beds and grew most of my own produce. It was more of a means of survival at that time in my life, but it turned out that gardening was my refuge, as well. It was a time for me to think, be still, listen to music, get my hands dirty, and witness life. The resiliency of plants has always been a motivator for me to keep going, even when life gets really tough. I am part of a DUG garden now, and I absolutely love it! I live close by, so it has been so nice to get off work and ride my bike, look at my babies grow, and be a part of a group of people looking to make a positive change in the world. It is beautiful.

I found out about DUG a few years ago, did some volunteer work, and interned in the spring of 2020. It was life-changing. Even in the midst of COVID when the city shutting down, I was so honored to be part of a team that pivoted to increase food access across the Denver area. My brain works in the way that I always want things totally figured out, in order, and planned out to the tiniest detail. It was such a challenge for me personally to learn to look beyond the plan, learn that there are so many people and organizations looking to impact change in similar ways, and realize that big things can happen when you let go and trust.

I’ve always dealt with a lot of anxiety and depression in my life, and that only got worse for me throughout my career. Gardening has always been my safe space. A time just for me. It has taught me to slow down, to be comfortable doing one thing at a time, to look, listen, and be thankful for every second I have on this earth. It has taught me to be okay with slow progress, to look for the little joys in life, and to celebrate growth in all shapes and forms. My experiences with gardening have affected me so much that I decided to make a big career change because of the way connecting with the earth made me feel. I now work in horticulture and floral design and feel so honored to get to give back to a planet that gives so much to me on a daily basis.”

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July 27, 2020

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“We lived in China for 7 years, where we met when Lily was my translator on a work project. We like it here very much. I am originally from the…
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August 6, 2020

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“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…
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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…

Looking back on a lifetime in the garden

By Faces of DUG

#13: Meet Judy, Senior Education Specialist at DUG

“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 pods we would lovingly ‘pop,’ and if we opened them at just the right time, you could stick them on your nose and create wonderful garden ‘creatures.’ She was a marvelous cook & baker and she shared stories of bringing special flours and seeds from Russia to use in her culinary dishes and share with others.

Working in the garden with her, I became enamored with how she carefully created specific areas to walk so as not to impact the soil. From that moment, a special seed was planted in me to learn as much as I could about tending the soil, realizing the amazing treasures of food, herbs, and flowers it yielded. I was just grateful to take part in the stewardship process.

Being involved with DUG for over 20 years, I have quietly listened as people from diverse countries shared their stories of bringing their own treasured seeds to plant, nourish both body and soul, and to help us understand that in our differences, there is a strong opportunity to learn, grow, and appreciate our diverse talents.

I’ve had the privilege of working with amazing staff, educating children and adults, leading the Master Composter program, and watching the seasons’ ebb and flow. As time goes by, I am inspired by the wisdom of the Earth, gathering all together to pause in wonder at the unfolding of each sunrise and its new possibilities for quiet reflection and growth. DUG is a web of interconnected voices, more than individual gardens: each voice giving strength to our vision of community, of strength in diversity, of sharing the stories of our home.”

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July 27, 2020

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“We lived in China for 7 years, where we met when Lily was my translator on a work project. We like it here very much. I am originally from the…
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August 12, 2020

Teaching the next generation about the magic of gardening

"I believe that every moment is a teaching moment. Getting the kids to see the world in a different way is a fascinating thing. Every time you get just one…
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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…
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Gardening for mental wellbeing

“My family had a garden growing up in southern Louisiana. I Ioved harvesting, watering, and watching our plants grow since I was a little girl. In college, I built raised…

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By Faces of DUG

#14: Meet Talia, Lowry Family Community Garden

“I signed up for a community garden plot at a DUG garden before I ever heard Daniel’s name. I was excited to grow things and put down roots, as I had just moved back to Denver. When I met Daniel, I found out that he was a super-gardener. On our third date, I asked him to help me in my garden. He humored me while I put random seeds in the ground. I had to leave town, and he asked if he could take care of my plot for me. When I came back, he had cleared out all the seeds and replaced them with seasonally-appropriate starts. And so began our gardening courtship.

Every week, we went to that garden and tended the plants, and our relationship grew. Gardening turned out to be a way for us to date. Our relationship moved pretty quickly. We were engaged within five months of meeting. We spent the whole summer gardening together. Those first five months revolved around gardening.

In September, Dan told me we needed to go to the garden to harvest our watermelon. We got there, and I ran off to start harvesting. He called me over, “Babe come here! You have to see this!” I came running, thinking he had found a squash we might have missed. He turned around with a ring in his hand and proposed. It was the perfect proposal for us because we grew our love in our DUG garden. We were even featured in the New York Times’ Wedding Section!

Over the years, we’ve grown thousands of pounds of food in DUG gardens. It has nurtured both our bellies and our hearts. Our family has grown to include two kids who love picking food in the garden and eating it right away. In the beginning, growing food was just for fun, but as I tasted how amazing food is when you grow it yourself, I don’t buy what I can grow in-season. We also pickle and preserve our harvest. I had been so oblivious to the seasonality of food before I started gardening. I can’t imagine my life now without it!

I learned how to garden in a DUG community garden. I would’ve never had that opportunity otherwise. DUG offers everyone in Denver a chance to engage with soil and understand the food lifecycle. What DUG does is essential, and I don’t think the community appreciates it as much as they should.”

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February 16, 2021

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July 20, 2020

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Digging deep into DUG’s roots

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August 28, 2020

Finding purpose in growing and sharing food

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Building community from the ground up

By Faces of DUG

#12: Meet Meredith, Sunshine Community Garden

“I began gardening in my backyard and fell in love with the process of watching things miraculously grow out of the earth. As a dietitian, I love to eat good food to keep my body healthy, and there is nothing better than eating the food you grew yourself! Working for WIC, I had seen community gardens run in partnership with local WIC offices, so when I was approached at Jeffco to help manage and coordinate the start of a community garden onsite, I didn’t hesitate to accept the challenge. I helped start the Sunshine Community Garden in 2018 and had a garden plot for the first two years. Now, my time spent in the garden is dedicated to helping others, from teaching them how to manage our compost pile to how to pull up goat heads from our pathways.

DUG was instrumental in making the Sunshine Community Garden a reality. We knew we wanted a community garden onsite with the Jeffco WIC office and the Jeffco Head Start preschool to engage and serve the families who are at our campus. It was when we partnered with DUG that our dreams began to turn into actions! Their fantastic staff helped us acquire grant funding and coordinate volunteers. DUG provided expert design and project management to help us break ground and get our garden built. They helped us reach out to the families on campus and in the surrounding communities to invite them to join our garden.
Now, they attend our garden advisory committee meetings, supply seeds and seedlings through their Grow a Garden program, and guide everything from plot planning, composting, and communicating with a diverse group of gardeners down to how to engage young gardeners. Our garden community wouldn’t be as strong without the support of DUG!

Being part of a community garden has given me a platform for learning, sharing knowledge, supporting others, and working hard for what I believe is right. I’ve made friends with my gardeners and am so happy to see them in the garden and chat about their favorite tomato variety or what insect might be eating their plants. My gardeners were some of the first people outside of my family I interacted with after COVID forced us to work from home in March. I showed up in my mask, ready to serve them, welcome them, and hand out seeds and seedlings. The garden has been a place of community in the past, and this year has challenged us in building community in the absence of garden gatherings. Yet we have managed to build something, and it grows and towers with its beauty.”

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September 15, 2020

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“One of the biggest challenges that our community faces is food insecurity, which has only been exacerbated by COVID-19. The funding we received through DUG has drawn us closer as…
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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…
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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…
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July 20, 2020

Discovering friendship in the garden

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#11: Meet Lindsay, Manager of Adult Self-Sufficiency Integrated Services (FACE), Johnson Elementary School

“One of the biggest challenges that our community faces is food insecurity, which has only been exacerbated by COVID-19. The funding we received through DUG has drawn us closer as a community. We were able to donate food to 25 of our highest-need families. We’ve been regularly distributing school lunches and weekend food bags to families that can’t leave their homes because they are sick with COVID-19.
With the grant funding from DUG, we employed 3 community gardeners who have all been significantly impacted by loss of work due to COVID and didn’t have money to pay rent. The funding is really helping their income. For a single parent with one child, $250 can pay for a month of groceries. It’s been a great opportunity for the parents to connect with their children, especially during a time when kids are feeling isolated. The parents talk about how much their children have learned from this experience. One little boy has been really into watching the radishes grow. His mom sent me a picture saying, “Oh my gosh, he’s begging me every single day to come to the garden so he can check on his radishes to see if they’re growing.”
All of the families at the Johnson Elementary Community Garden have incredible stories about how the garden supports them. One gardener is a single mom who just moved to the US in January. She was the sole source of income for her son, and then her hours got cut. Another gardener got involved because the school therapist recommended the garden as an activity to help her daughter who was struggling with the school changes due to COVID. The mom has become an avid gardener, and it’s been so cool to develop a trusting relationship with her. Before, even though her family really needed services, she was very hesitant to receive help. Now, she feels comfortable coming to talk to us, and if she needs something, she’ll ask.
It’s so impactful for our community to have access to healthy, nutritious food. In this way, DUG has shown its commitment to the community. To be able to garden with an organization that cares about giving back has been amazing for our community.”

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July 13, 2020

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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…
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“My family had a garden growing up in southern Louisiana. I Ioved harvesting, watering, and watching our plants grow since I was a little girl. In college, I built raised…
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December 5, 2020

Building community during COVID

"I am the Garden Leader at the Cedar Hill Community Garden at Green Mountain United Methodist Church. We have been working on the building of our garden for six years…

Creating a piece of home in the garden

By Faces of DUG

#10: Meet Beatrice, Fairview Elementary Community Garden

“I am from Central Africa. I couldn’t find [Amaranth] seeds from my country to grow. I said, “If I cannot find this vegetable I will have to move back to my country.”
One day, I was walking in my neighborhood and saw the plant growing on the street. I pulled it out of the ground, took it home, and planted it in a pot on my porch. It grew so big! I said, “Oh God, thank you!” I let it grow big enough to start producing seeds and I kept them. I walked by the garden one day and asked Miss Judy, “Whose garden is this? I need a place to plant the seeds and grow the vegetables from my country.” She said, “Yes of course! You are welcome to garden here.” I talked to my sister and told her that we have somewhere to garden now.
This garden helps me a lot. I had a stroke in 2018. I mostly grow Butu [Amaranth] in my plot. I cook this because it is healthy for me and my family. You make a sauce out of it with beef, onion, and salt and eat it with rice. I can cook for two days with these leaves. My kids love it, they eat so much! In the supermarket, they don’t sell this vegetable, so this is the only way I can have it.
I have 7 kids: 6 girls and 1 boy. My youngest baby is 12 years old. My kids go to school here. One of my girls finished college. My kids eat a lot! If I go shopping for food at the supermarket, it costs a lot of money and the food is gone in two days. They say, “Oh mommy I am hungry!” If I cook this, my kids are full and don’t ask for more food. They say, “My stomach is full, I don’t want anymore!” That is good!”

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