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Welcome DUG’s 1st Advisory Council | National Thought Leadership

By News

Denver Urban Gardens has spent several decades building a robust network of community gardens across metro Denver.  We are thrilled to announce the DUG Advisory Council, composed of nationally and globally recognized experts!

Advisory Council members provide guidance and thought partnership to DUG senior leadership and lift up our work through their networks. We also ask them from time to time to engage in educational opportunities and fundraising events.

Thank you to our 1st Advisory Council Members:

Dana Bryson | Senior Vice President, Social Impact at Study.com

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Zach Bush, MD | Physician, Research Scientist, Entrepreneur and internationally recognized educator and thought leader

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Steve Culbertson | President & CEO at Youth Service America

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Robert Egger | Nonprofit/Power Of Food Advocate & Dedicated Elder Ally

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Ryland Englehart | Co-Founder + Executive Director at Kiss The Ground

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Beverly Grant | Founder, Mo’ Betta Green MarketPlace

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Daniela Ibarra-Howell | CEO and Co-Founder, Savory Institute

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Jeff Krasno | Co-Founder, CEO + Podcast Host at Commune; Co-Founder + Executive Chairman at Wanderlust; Author; Conscious Capitalist

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Roxanne Moore | Executive Director, Sodexo Stop Hunger Foundation

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Robert Reiman | CEO for the Giving Grove

As the organization evolves, we have identified six pillars of our work that go far beyond gardening:

Climate Change
Community
Health & Wellness
Skill Building
Food Access & Sovereignty
Foodways

As we go deeper on these high-impact topics, we seek to both share our voice and hear from voices working in these critical areas beyond our hometown.

We Can’t Wait to See You at Gather ‘Round 2022

By News

Gather ‘Round, Denver Urban Gardens (DUG)’s annual gala, is a celebration of our gardens’ bounty as we welcome the harvest season, and has been a community tradition for over a decade.

This year’s event will be co-hosted by Denver food legends Pete Turner, Dana Rodriguez, and Brad Reubendal. For the first time EVER, we’ll be recognizing and uplifting the work of local and national changemakers with our DUG Impact Awards.

Join us as we celebrate the cross-sector work of individuals, government organizations, NGOs, and coalitions working alongside DUG as we pursue our vision of a sustainable urban future where people are deeply and directly connected to the earth, each other, and the food they eat.

Impact Award Winners:

Ancestral Foodways – Spirit of the Sun
Climate Action – HDR
Community Building – Denver Parks and Recreation
Food Access + Sovereignty – Denver Community Food Access Coalition
Health + Wellness – Zach Bush, MD
Skill Building + Education – Chris Woodburn, Denver Public Schools

Join us on September 8 at Upper Larimer Events in RiNo!

YOU’LL ENJOY
Luxurious seasonal plant-based fare from supper club superstars,
The Easy Vegan
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Live music from Americana/Colorado roots band,
David Lawrence & the Spoonful

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craft cocktails, exclusive silent auction items, a wine wall, and lots of community fun!

Grab your tickets now

Growing Gardeners with DUG featured in USDA Farm to School Newsletter

By Education, News

DUG’s new ECE Growing Gardeners Initiative brings younger children into the garden.

.The National Gardening Association reports huge increases in the number of people engaging in gardening, documenting over 18 million new gardeners in the US in 2021. Gardens encourage us to ‘slow down’ and appreciate the interconnected community of soil, plants, and critters while improving our mental health and wellbeing. For children, the garden provides opportunities for cultivating the wonder and joy of experiential learning while connecting to our lifegiving earth and soil.

Denver Urban Gardens’ (DUG) Growing Gardeners Initiative, a Fiscal Year 2021 Farm to School Turnkey Grantee, creates a system of resources for bringing younger children into the garden. Hands-on DUG lessons investigating composting worms under magnifying glasses, engaging in cooking and trying new foods in garden clubs, and planting seeds and seedlings for the season provide students with memorable time in the soil.

Studies show that exposure to gardens at a younger age increases the chance that children will continue to value healthy eating and gardening into adulthood. Working with a cohort of twelve Denver Public Schools early childhood educators, DUG provided year-long training to increase teachers’ comfort level in taking students outside and integrating gardens into their curricula.

The initiative’s first year has been a great success thanks to the commitment of these teachers. Additional lessons, webinars, and video content will be made available on DUG.org upon completion.

Children need unstructured physical activity. As they work to turn the soil and care fortheir baby plants, gardens serve as both guardian and nurturer–an outdoor classroom with quiet, secret places that allow kids to discover that as they care for a plant, they are also protected. They learn the importance of self, that their efforts are important, and that working together and respecting diversity is part of the process of growth.

Moving forward, DUG will support a new cohort of teachers with year-long programming.  Local grant funds will further deepen our efforts by incorporating sensory garden plots at selected DUG school-based community gardens.

Check out DUG’s feature in the USDA Farm to School newsletter here.

Our Garden Adoption Program Has Rooted!

By News

We are thrilled to share that DUG’s Adopt a Garden program has kicked off with tremendous success. 

This spring DUG launched our new Garden Adoption program as an opportunity to ensure all of our gardens are resourced (as identified in our Baseline Infrastructure Initiative) equitably, and we are thrilled to share that 20+ national and local organizations have invested in garden communities across the DUG network.

Their 3-year financial commitment to gardens ensures that they have the necessary resources to thrive by providing funding for infrastructure improvements, such as new pathways, plot borders, or water tanks, as well as for seasonal resources like compost, seedlings, and straw. 

As part of their adoption commitments, the organizations also have an opportunity to do a seasonal teambuilding workday in partnership with community members of the garden and care for a plot in the garden (if available). 

The gang from Illegal Pete’s (who adopted 7 gardens around Denver!) has a workday to tend their shared plot in the Baker Community Garden.

Denver City Council President (representing Far Northeast Denver District 11) Stacie Gilmore stopped by Montbello 5 Loaves to visit the garden during a recent workday.

Look out for these workdays in a garden near you!

Amazon recently held their workday at the Montbello Fives Loaves Community Garden. Brittany Morris Saunders, Head of Community Affairs for Amazon in Denver, shared  “We are delighted to see our partnership with Denver Urban Gardens at the Montbello Five Loaves Community Garden come to fruition. This invaluable resource not only provides healthy food to the community but also brings the neighborhood together for community building and educational opportunities.”

Our gardens sustain the neighborhoods in which we live by building community, regenerating the soil, providing the essential skills– including the ability to grow your own food– all while supporting health and wellness. It takes a village (or a garden) to help care for our great city and we deeply appreciate all of our garden adopters’ commitments to our community and the environment.

We look forward to deepening the roots of these amazing partnerships in the years to come!

Learn more about Garden Adoption here.

Meet the 2022 DUG Corps!

By News

This season, seven wonderful 2022 DUG Corps members are here to support DUG gardens and host Micro Network events. Please help us welcome Chris, Cydnie, Danielle, Lauren, Marisa, Tanisha, and Taylor – and look for them in a garden near you!

Chris Sell

Chris spent most of his life in the mountains of West Virginia and Maryland, but always hoped to venture west. After college, he moved to Denver seeking adventure, more time outdoors, and new opportunities. Upon arriving in Colorado, Chris followed his curiosity and started working for a major cannabis company as a horticulturist. During that time, he absorbed a wealth of knowledge about plant science, and his passion for plants truly blossomed. Ever since, Chris has devoured any resources he can find about gardening and permaculture, and he endeavors each summer to improve his own backyard garden. Chris is so excited to serve with DUG because he believes wholeheartedly in DUG’s mission, and feels grateful for the opportunity to connect with gardeners from his community.

Cydnie Wilson

Cydnie has recently returned to her home state of CO from the city/state where Agriculture is the number one industry, Kansas City, MO and Kansas City, Kansas. For 7 years, she dedicated her life in service to others in Hospitals as a Certified Nursing Assistant. Facing burnout from working on the Frontlines during the onset of the Pandemic in 2020 and 2021, she decided to shift gears. The Denverite has been an avid gardener in her young adult years, and realized it all started with gardening with her mother as a child. Her love for nature and the outdoors was only exacerbated by growing up in Colorado! Her father, a native New Yorker, became a "Black Cowboy" (in his heart, at least) when he moved to CO in the late 70's and could only spread his joy for the "Wild West" to his children--taking them skiing, horseback riding, camping, fishing, white water rafting and hiking whenever he could!

Cydnie now appreciates her CO upbringing more than ever (though she still isn't too fond of all the snow). She is proud to serve her home City in the DUG Corps. In her free time, when not tending to her own garden, Cydnie enjoys expressing herself in all things musically, and enjoys writing as well.

Danielle Peterson

Danielle grew up in rural Iowa. She has 15 years of marketing and project management experience. Her passion is aliveness and wishes to be a participatory human. Her love of plants, soil, and community brought her back into the DUG community in 2022 to fulfill her passions and be part of something united.

She completed DUG’s Master Gardener Program in 2010 to help a school garden she funded, developed, and taught at for over 10 years. Danielle also wrote her own garden curriculum in which she managed and taught for 10 years. All of this with kids eventually inspired her to start her own business in 2017 as a personal / ecopsychologist and yoga instructor for adult humans. Her greatest teachers have been plants….and it all started for her at a school garden.

She strongly believes that school and community gardens revitalize something and believes it helps bring nature to the human soul in an urban setting. Fast forward 20 years, she is now back at DUG wanting to serve the community.

Lauren Groth

Lauren is originally from Albuquerque, New Mexico. She moved out to Denver two years ago to attend graduate school and just graduated with her M.S. in Nutrition and Dietetics from Metropolitan State University of Denver. Her favorite hobby is traveling and learning everything that she can about new areas.

Marisa Loury

Growing up in New Jersey with a food-loving Italian family, Marisa learned to celebrate community and express gratitude while sharing fresh, handmade meals. Starting off as a restaurant server, she quickly became passionate about cultivating an equitable and sustainable food system. While working and going to school in Burlington, Vermont, she campaigned alongside migrant farmworkers for labor and housing rights on dairy farms and moved to Denver in 2021 where she began coordinating gleans with UpRoot Colorado. Marisa holds a B.A. in Anthropology and Global Studies from the University of Vermont. In her free time, she enjoys hiking with friends, drawing, and riding her bike.

Tanisha Diggs

Tanisha S. Diggs lives in Aurora, Colorado and she is a current scholar with Kansas State University pursuing a B.S. in Animal Science and Industry-Production Management, anticipated graduation is May 2024. She is a new inductee of The Mortar Board Honor Society - who values scholarship, leadership & service to aid those in need. Tanisha found her affinity for animal care early in childhood and began pursuing a career in veterinary medicine. She was certified by The Colorado Association of Certified Veterinary Technicians in 2009, and worked in the veterinary field for 15 years.

A Servant to the community is a role where Tanisha excels. She volunteers at a local farm, leading tours and teaching 4-H students about poultry husbandry. Tanisha uses her adept knowledge as a Master Composter and Master Community Gardener to partner with growers who promote healthy lifestyle changes that heal the soul. Her service to Americorps is two-fold - first to be the change that others are expecting, by connecting with those who are in need. Second, to role model the way for her children what it means to be a good steward and servant of the community. In her free time, Tanisha is the mother of two teenage sons, and a fur parent of a mischievously intelligent border collie.

Taylor Kibble

Taylor has a long background in leading and directing summer day camps and after-school programs, seizing any opportunity to introduce methods of environmental education and exploration into the lessons, activities, and field trips. An AmeriCorps alumni, gaining experience in multi-use trail building/management, home construction, and farming, Taylor has joined DUG as an AmeriCorps service member with DUG Corps. Amidst the extensive work experience, Taylor simultaneously worked to earn her Bachelors in Geography and Environmental Sciences at CU Denver in 2021. Her free time is primarily occupied with maintaining her home garden with her cat, Johnathan.

Meet our DUG Corps Members at a Micro Event Near You!

These events are designed to strengthen skills in gardening and composting as well as create opportunities to connect across the DUG Network.

DUG Named as a 2022 Fast Company Award Finalist!

By News

We’re thrilled to annouced that Denver Urban Gardens has been named as a Finalist of Fast Company’s
2022 World-Changing Ideas Awards!

The winners of Fast Company’s 2022 World-Changing Ideas Awards were announced May 3rd, honoring clean technology, innovative corporate initiatives, brave new designs for cities and buildings, and other creative works that are supporting the growth of positive social innovation, tackling social inequality, climate change, and public health crises. 

Now in its sixth year, the World Changing Ideas Awards showcase 39 winners, 350 finalists, and more than 600 honorable mentions—with climate, social justice, and AI and data among the most popular categories. A panel of eminent Fast Company editors and reporters selected winners and finalists from a pool of more than 2,997 entries across transportation, education, food, politics, technology, health, social justice, and more. In addition, several new categories have been added this year including climate, nature, water, and workplace. The 2022 awards feature entries from across the globe, from Switzerland to Hong Kong to Australia.

Fast Company’s Summer 2022 issue will showcase some of the world’s most inventive entrepreneurs and companies tackling global challenges. The issues highlight, among others, probiotics for coral reefs, easy-to-assemble kit homes for refugees or disaster survivors, a 3D printed vaccine patch, an electric truck, a system to heat homes from the waste heat of a name-brand factory, and prosecutor-initiated resentencing for overly long prison sentences.

“We are consistently inspired by the novelty and creativity that people are applying to solve some of our society’s most pressing problems, from shelter to the climate crisis. Fast Company relishes its role in amplifying important, innovative work to address big challenges,” says David Lidsky, interim editor-in-chief of Fast Company. “Our journalists have identified some of the most ingenious initiatives to launch since the start of 2021, which we hope will both have a meaningful impact and lead others to join in being part of the solution.”

About the World Changing Ideas Awards: World Changing Ideas is one of Fast Company’s major annual awards programs and is focused on social good, seeking to elevate finished products and brave concepts that make the world better. A panel of judges from across sectors choose winners, finalists, and honorable mentions based on feasibility and the potential for impact. With the goals of awarding ingenuity and fostering innovation, Fast Company draws attention to ideas with great potential and helps them expand their reach to inspire more people to start working on solving the problems that affect us all.

DUG is thrilled and honored to be able to magnify the power of gardens through this nomination. Read the full list of award winners here.

Commons Park Community Garden is Open!

By News

Commons Park Community Garden is ready for Spring Growing Season!

It’s been more than 23 years since Denver Commons Park opened and has become a beloved open space Denverites flock to. A new gathering place has just opened within Commons — the first major addition to the park in its 23-year history.
The Commons Park Community Garden is the result of a collaboration between DUG, Denver Parks and Recreation, the Riverfront Park Homeowners’ Association, and Civitas.
The result is 28 garden plots (with the capacity for eight more), as well as three accessible planters that will encourage Central Platte Valley residents to grow their own fruits and vegetables within a community of shared values and common efforts.
DUG hosted an opening celebration on Saturday, April 30th, where volunteers filled planters with soil and prepared the plots and overall garden for the coming planting season, and there’s already a 150-person waiting list of prospective gardeners.

Learn more about the 190+ community gardens in the DUG network here. 

DUG Says Goodbye to Nessa!

By News

After 8 years of building gardens as a workday warrior, Nessa Mogharreban, Director of Physical Infrastructure, is moving on from DUG.

We all feel so grateful to have learned so much about DUG, the community gardens, and physical infrastructure skills from Nessa. She has been an integral member of DUG’s staff and it’s hard to imagine DUG without her knowledge, humor, and passion for gardening. We will miss her and wish her the best of luck in her new adventures!

If you know Nessa, you know how much she loves to make parody music videos…enjoy this final one, where the entire DUG team joins in to help ‘send her on her way.’

“It’s been a fun ride these past 8 years, getting to know some of the coolest gardeners out there and working for the amazing organization that is DUG. I’ve learned so much from each and every one of you and I am grateful for all of your passion and knowledge. Together we’ve built the largest independent community garden network in the nation! We are a part of something greater and I know we will continue to be a catalyst for change nationwide. Let’s continue to take care of each other and the earth and I’ll look forward to our paths crossing again.”

– Nessa Mogharreban

DUG Launches New Partnership with The Giving Grove

By News

Denver Urban Gardens is excited to announce a new partnership The Giving Grove, a national nonprofit serving communities experiencing food insecurity.

Since its launch in 2013, The Giving Grove network has planted 330 orchards across the nation that re-established green space on unused and vacant land while providing free, holistically-grown fruits, nuts, and berries.  Giving Grove’s mission is to provide healthy calories, strengthen community, and improve the environment through a nationwide network of sustainable little orchards that dramatically increase access to healthy foods. 

With the challenge of Denver’s climate, it is essential for us to be active stewards of our land.  DUG has spent the last 35 years cultivating in-ground community-based food production but realized that there is so much more (vertical) growing to be done,” said Nessa Mogharreban, DUG’s Director of Physical Infrastructure and Community Engagement.  DUG’s Executive Director Linda Appel Lipsius added, “We fortuitously met Giving Grove as we were formulating our tree strategy – we are thrilled to be kicking off this initiative in partnership with such an intentional, impactful and supportive organization.

After finding success with its model in Kansas City, The Giving Grove began expanding to other cities, launching affiliate programs in St. Louis and Omaha in 2017 and in Memphis, Louisville, rural Kansas, and Cincinnati in 2020.  In addition to Denver, The Giving Grove is expanding to Dallas, Atlanta, and Seattle this spring.  The Giving Grove’s expansion plans include launching affiliates in 10 more U.S. cities by 2025.  

Members of the DUG team recently stopped by Alameda Wholesale Nursery to check out their assortment of trees!

The typical Giving Grove orchard will produce more than 9,800 servings of holistically-grown, free, healthy foods worth more than $8,200 each year.  With a 50-60+ year lifespan, each orchard will produce over its lifetime more than 212,000 servings of food for people in need while sequestering carbon, reducing stormwater runoff, and providing urban tree canopy.

Stay tuned to hear more about DUG’s new Food Forest Initiative, launching in 2022! If you’d like to learn more about how to take care of fruit trees, join us for our upcoming Fruit Tree Pruning workshop with DUG’s new Director of Permaculture and Perennials, Creighton Hofeditz.