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Strawberries, Oppression, + Getting What I Want

By Embodied Equity
In my garden, there is a strawberry plant.

The strawberries appear, quite magically, like little red, sparkling rubies in the sun. When I notice them sparkling there, I feel a desire to possess them. I look around to make sure no one else has seen them yet. I feel ashamed that I want them for myself. Perhaps my neighbor also feels longing and excitement about ruby red strawberries magically appearing in the sun.

I began to think that I should have asked the plant if I could have them before I hungrily snatched them up. It was a quiet thought in the back of my mind that my hunger refused to entertain. It changed the subject or made sure I “forgot” to ask until I had at least one jeweled prize in my hand.
“It would be silly to ask now,” my hunger taunted.

“Why can’t I just ask the plant?” I wondered, but my hunger changed the subject to some work I urgently needed to complete, so I walked off, urgently.

My inability to stay present with the question felt more and more uncomfortable. My relationship with the plant felt more and more out of alignment. Until a young, quiet voice broke through, Because, what if it says no?I felt my chest seize up, ever so slightly, at the thought that I might not possess my shining rubies again. I heard Gollum’s raspy voice in my head, “My precious.” My throat was tight.

I had been pondering how it happened that the Europeans who saw my ancestors in the beautiful rolling plains of Nigeria decided to kidnap them. What made them hunger for those beautiful, glittering jewels in the sun? What made them take, without asking? And what if they too were afraid to ask because they might be told “No”?

I’ve watched my own multifaceted response to this question when seeing several glittering jewels I follow on social media. Joyful, multi-patterned clothing, freedom to mix a beard with a ball gown, a fluorescent wig some days– because why the hell not?  My response to their freedom is a combination of profound respect, a bit of awe, and underneath those feelings something else that was hard to admit. A mixture of fear and anger. Thankfully, I’ve worked through the shame enough to admit to, and tend to, what lies beneath.

It takes courage and self-love to talk to that part of me that is afraid. To listen to what is happening inside of me rather than shame it. Because that part of me must be hurting. Hurt people hurt people… Self-hating people hate people… Self-fearing people fear people.

I listened to myself and the truth unfolded. The light of self-expression illuminated a place in me that had been hidden in darkness. A place where I could not — would not — go. The expressive clothes I would buy but never wear; the things I would think but never say. The light illuminated a reality. The rainbow cornucopia of expression that I am was stifled, muted. And my dull tones of grey looked even greyer next to the full-color explosion of a human being who is being true to themselves.
I noticed my own longing for more freedom with new eyes.

When the light of someone else’s honesty illuminates my lies, I have choices. The answer I choose when I’m not honest with myself is a split-second, unconscious, reaction. I attempt to turn off their light. It is an attempt to escape the illumination of my own inauthenticity and the suffering my inauthenticity creates.

I have access to a whole spectrum of destructive tactics to turn off their light. Grouped together we call them “oppression.” I can be dismissive of them in my own mind. I can speak dismissive or insulting words. I can speak punishing words. I can support punishing laws. I can take punishing actions. I can hit, I can kill, I can support or dismiss the hitting or killing others carry out.

These are the options I choose by default when I refuse to take responsibility for what is being illuminated in me. Upon meeting those indigenous people on Turtle Island and Alkebulan (Africa), and having some aspect of their own greyness illuminated, Europeans used these tactics as well.

Instead, what if they had just said, “I want what you have. I want it so badly it hurts in my bones. I think I used to have what you have. I don’t know what it is, or when I had it, or how I lost it. I am angry at you for making me notice. I am enraged with envy and I am scared of you and what you possess. I am scared to ask you to share because if you say no, I will feel like I have lost it all over again. But… Can you share with me?”
How different things could be.

In this dynamic, we can be aggressors or students. We get to choose which skillset we strengthen. We get to live in a world that reflects our choices. Now, it is not always appropriate to ask strangers to educate us. But, we always have the power to learn from those who shine a light on our darkness.

We can notice what is illuminated. We can let ourselves feel our own desire to have what they have and notice what stops us. Once we see what stops us, we can ask for help. We can Google it, read a book, or hire those who teach. We can feel gratitude for these unexpected teachers who teach just by existing. How generous!

So, I took a breath and I asked the plant for a strawberry. Grinning, she said “Of course! That’s why I grew them.”

I don’t remember eating the strawberry. But I do remember the freedom, exhilaration, and power of finally asking the impossible question. I do remember the taste of asking for what I really want.

Reflection Questions:

  • Based on my reactions of fear or anger, what do I long for more of?

  • What books, internet searches, service providers, etc. can support me to honor the part of me that longs for more?

Offerings:

Enjoy this poem! 

Until next time… deepen and discover!
‘Embodied Equity,’ a limited-series guest blog authored by Leanne Alaman focuses on deepening our understanding of justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion (JEDI) by deepening our listening to the teachings of Mother Nature, our wise and humble teacher.

Hi, I’m Leanne! I provide paradigm-shifting equity support to organizational leaders and well-meaning individuals to move past well-meaning into well-doing. To learn more, visit my website and support my work.

Discovering Your ‘Why’ For Gardening

By Faces of DUG

#27: Meet Robbin, gardener, mentor, and community leader

I got into gardening in 2000 when I was suffering from severe clinical depression. In my research, I found information around diet and nutrition but also found a piece around gardening, and I thought that was kind of different. So I got a beautiful little pot with a geranium on my patio in Los Angeles. That was my very first attempt to grow anything. And it’s been a long journey from there!

When I moved to Colorado, I shared my property with my grandmother. There was a little space with some ground in the back. I don’t even remember what I grew. But whatever I put back there grew, and I was like, “Oh wait, I might know how to do this!” That was what piqued my interest. It seemed I had an intuitive ability. 

Images courtesy of Robbin Otey and the sow sistas FB page 

DUG came into the picture as my hobby got out of hand. I found out about DUG’s two coaching programs: the Master Community Gardener Program and the Master Composter Program. My pedagogy is always to start with science. So that’s how I ended up doing both programs.

The work that I do now is garden ministry.

I grow our ministry through A Georgia Green Project. My role in A Georgia Green Project is to manage the garden and teach others – composting, companion planting, you name it. I’m teaching people about resisting food apartheid and how to invite community into the gardens.

My other group, the sow sistas, is a mentorship group of ladies. I’ve had some very micro-aggressive experiences in the community. I consider myself to be resilient, but in Colorado, any environment that I’m in is going to be – if it’s 10 people I’m probably going to be the only black woman (well people think I’m a black woman, and I identify as a black woman, but I’m actually Washitaw).  Not that that doesn’t affect me, but there are other personalities and types of people that don’t feel welcome. So I’m like, “Okay, we need to figure out how we can be in this space.”

That’s kind of how it manifested in the DUG space. Colorado has a very bloody history around the land, so we always honor it. We appreciate the ability to lease the plots with DUG and I appreciate all of the educational opportunities DUG offers. That’s part of what the sow sisters is about — let’s garden together as a group, let’s harness this information.

Our focus is resisting food apartheid, exploring global food sovereignty, and educating ourselves and our community on these issues and our program is centered around black women and girls.

Anyone can garden with us, but that’s our focus. Our intent is to solve for isolation. In a community garden, it takes a team effort to make it work. We manage the plots together. We account for people’s physical limitations — we have some that can pull the wheelbarrows and some that can do the weeding, but everyone can contribute.

It is intergenerational — we also have the little sow sistas, the young girls who help out. We’re actually able to employ the sow sistas, which is part of our mission. So that people can know there’s work, there are jobs, and there are lots of careers in the Ag world, not just growing food. 

We also have The Kaleidoscope Project (TKP). TKP was part of the DUG garden at Shorter AME Community Church, and the pastor reached out to me to ask if I wanted to do something in the garden. They’re social activist trainers, so the whole program at TKP is around claiming our power in the food system. TKP also has music programs with young people in the garden. TKP had done pop-ups in different areas that did not have easy access to fresh food. And so the pastor was like, ‘We can just do our own thing!’ People are able to barter or pay what they can. I’m excited to see the music that they’re going to do around what’s happening in their garden.

Our group is motivated by love. Love for ourselves, love for our families, love for community, and love for humanity. The more that we all vibrate high, whatever love looks like, the better the whole world is going to be.

My love language is resisting food apartheid and growing–people, places, and things. That’s what I do. I support the women that want to garden. One of our guiding principles is that the land and the food is sacred. 

For me, love is a resistance tool. Everyone says ‘support’ global food sovereignty, but we have to understand that we cannot be afraid of the truth that there were very violent actions in this documented history and herstory of the land. People were killed to gain these resources. This information matters not so that people get angry, you move past that.

I appreciate the opportunity to share that gardening can be a love language. For people to open their minds and to be intentional about how they eat and even if they don’t grow, support those that do — that’s the food sovereignty piece, right? Go find a local market that’s better for your health and go eat some food that was grown four blocks from you, rather than something that was driven 12 hours in a truck. 

The pandemic was a huge catalyst in everything that is manifesting in my life around gardening and what I see happening in the garden. Folks were gardening that had never gardened before that always wanted to — it was all over the internet. We couldn’t find stuff in the stores.

I usually grow edible pollinators. The new thing I’m growing right now is my moon bed. The intent is to attract those nighttime pollinators in the dusk. It’s beneficial because the flowers are white. Typically they’re also highly fragrant flowers. Part of the sow sistas is our aesthetic — we care that it looks pretty. I sowed biennial hollyhock last year and it’s blooming beautifully pink this season. 

The very first lesson for a new gardener is to find your ‘Why.’ Your ‘why’ is going to matter when you don’t feel like getting out there to water.

There are many ‘why’s.’ Some of the sow sistas are in the group for the social piece. Some are there to get the education. Some are there to get the physicality. Some just want to be out there in the fresh air. And some want to have control over their food. To know that there should be a ‘why’ is going to support you.

If I were to encourage someone who had never gardened before, I would give them the basic five. The basic five is ‘Planning. Take time to ‘Plot.’ ‘Pay Attention’ to where you’re planting. Include ‘Pampering’ — that’s the fertilizing, the water plan, the pest control. The last piece is the ‘Pulling’ — that’s the harvesting and the preserving.

Take the time to be plant-specific. Do some companion planting. Start with the science. That’s what beginners don’t realize. They’re like, “Oh I thought we were just going to be taking pictures and wearing the uniform shirts.” Like no sister, grab a shovel (laughter).”

More Faces of DUG

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June 2, 2021

Leaving a Legacy of Wonder

“My daughter Beth introduced me to Denver Urban Gardens around 6 years ago. She’s always been a big DUG fan. She received an impact award at DUG’s annual fundraiser for…
Faces of DUG
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Connecting to People and Food

The importance of connecting to how our food is grown is never something I was taught. It is something I know in my heart, that I connect to innately, an…
Faces of DUG
November 30, 2020

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…
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…

Embodied Equity: Welcome

By Embodied Equity

Header photo credit to Amy Alaman, @afroblooms on Instagram
Authored by Leanne Alaman of Embodied Contribution

This new limited-series guest blog ‘Embodied Equity’ will focus on deepening our understanding of justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion (JEDI) by deepening our listening to the teachings of Mother Nature, our wise and humble teacher.

In a world of misinformation and deception, it can feel difficult to discern the truth. But our dear Earth Mother never lies. By listening to this primordial mother, we deepen our lived experience of the truth of ourselves and each other.

This lived experience is true wisdom. Mother Nature wants to gift us everything we need, including wisdom–all we have to do is listen, deeply. How lucky we are to have this limitless and freely given resource!

In this blog, I’ll share what I’ve heard about JEDI through my own practice of deep listening. I hope this wisdom helps you to move through these times and greater appreciation and care for yourself and others.

I want to thank Denver Urban Gardens for engaging in the liberatory work of justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion with me. May the seeds we plant today and tend tomorrow blossom into skillful adjustments at DUG that will benefit us all.

And, of course, thank you to indigenous people across the world for remaining wisdom holders and knowledge bearers despite unspeakable obstacles. Your faithfulness to the truth allowed a deeper and deeper path to be forged to it. As many more of us arrive here, please know we do so only because of your integrity. I trust you already know that one day you will be showered with gifts and gratitude commensurate with your contribution.

Until next time. Deepen and discover!

Hi, I’m Leanne! I provide paradigm-shifting equity support to organizational leaders and well-meaning individuals to move past well-meaning into well-doing.

Finding Mentorship (and more) in Community

By Faces of DUG

#26: Meet Laurel, a first-year gardener at Growasis Community Garden

“Last year, my boyfriend and I lived in the Cole neighborhood and had never gardened before.

We lived in an apartment with no outdoor space and were home all the time due to COVID. It has always been important to me to try and make our lifestyles more sustainable. As most human beings, I used to rely exclusively on grocery stores to provide everything I need to survive, but gardening was a paradigm shift for me and my boyfriend– to really see that we could grow our own food.” 

Last summer was our first season and as beginners, we both went into the experience blind.

DUG’s To-Grow Box was what got us started. It was a great learning experience. Before gardening, my boyfriend wasn’t particularly interested in eating fresh fruits and vegetables much of the time. Surprisingly, he got really into gardening and as a result, eating the food we produced. Our diets were both improved and diversified.

The different pepper and tomato varieties included in the To-Grow Box weren’t things I would’ve typically purchased before. Growing them was an impetus to learn how to cook and incorporate them into foods we wanted to eat.

Gardening was great for our relationship.

It gave us a project to work on, something that we had to do every single day that required our attention. It was exactly what we needed at that time.

The garden made us feel like a part of our community, especially at the height of isolation during the pandemic.

We felt really lucky to be at Growasis. It had a cohesive group of people, even despite the limitations of COVID. It was nice to have that in-person connection around something other than work, which is typically the only way we interact with others as adults. We learned so much during our first season. Our plot neighbors were also first-time gardeners, so we bounced ideas off each other all the time.

There was a woman at our garden, we called her ‘Miss M.’

When we first picked up our To-Grow Box, we were so excited that we immediately drove to the garden to plant our seedlings. The next day, everything was weathered and dying. Miss M swooped in and said, “I know what happened. It’s okay, we can save them!” She got on her hands and knees and helped us dig up and replant everything! I was being cautious, but she said, “No, you need to show the ground who’s boss–get in there!”

From that moment on, Miss M would give us garden tips every time we saw her.

She took us under her wing and helped us maintain our entire garden. She could tell early-on that we were struggling pretty significantly, so she inserted herself in such a welcomed, appreciated way. I can’t express how much it meant to me at the time. I didn’t ask other gardeners for help out of fear of seeming like too much of a rookie. What she did meant so much.

Our garden would’ve failed from day-one if it weren’t for her.

We could have read any number of gardening books, but there’s something different about having an experienced gardener who has lived in the neighborhood for a long time telling you what she does to make her garden healthy and successful.

It’s hard to explain without getting too sentimental. We’ve never connected with someone in that way before.

It really made all the difference for our first gardening experience. I’m so excited to make community gardening a part of my life now! 

More Faces of DUG

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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…
Faces of DUG
August 28, 2020

Finding purpose in growing and sharing food

"I think in so many ways the Master Community Gardener program was just what I needed. It really pushed me and challenged me because of the give-back hours; both building…
Faces of DUG
June 13, 2023

Building Community from the Inside Out

Meet Alex, DUG Volunteer, Farming Youth Educator, and Future Urban Planner Since landing in Denver a couple of years ago, Alex Curtis had embedded himself  in the community through volunteering…
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…

Check out DUG on Colorado and Company!

By News

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

Planning for Your Growing Season with Jungle Judy

Sharing Gardening Resources & Programming with Local Schools

Cultivating Wonder with our Youngest Gardeners

Removing Barriers to Access with Our Grow a Garden Program

Supporting Your Health and Wellness in a Community Garden

Preserving Land and Green Spaces for Metro Denver

Simple Tips for Indoor Gardening and Growing

Become a Backyard Composter with DUG’s Jungle Judy

Check out our Growing Gardeners Program for Local Youth

Learning in School-Based Community Gardens

Meet DUG’s Youngest Gardener and Community Member

Rediscover What a Healthy Garden Can Look Like

Be Inspired by Diverse People and Plants of the Beeler St. Garden

Building Community at the Colorful West Colfax Garden

Keep Your Garden Thriving Through the Summer Heat

Dig Into the Dirt for Your Mental and Physical Health

Composting with A1 Organics and Denver Recycles

SHOP DUG MERCH

By News
Order Now

DUG Garden Tote

Show off your love of DUG with a high-quality branded tote with two front pockets! These sturdy 18”×16”×3” tote bags are made of 100% natural cotton canvas, making them ideal for carrying all your garden supplies, and cute enough to bring just about anywhere.

PICKUP ONLY

$20.00

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DUG Sticker

Display your love of DUG wherever you go! This high-quality die-cut 2.5″ x 3″ sticker features our DUG logo surrounded by plants and pollinators. Add it to your water bottle, your laptop, your wheelbarrow, or your car!

PICKUP ONLY

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Embroidered Patch

Turn anything into DUG merch with this cute iron-on patch!  Our 2.5″ x 3″ patch features our DUG logo surrounded by plants and pollinators. Add it to your beanie, backpack, jacket, or anything else where you want to show off your love of DUG!

PICKUP ONLY

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DUG Premium Beanie

Keep your head toasty warm in this beanie made from locally sourced post-consumer plastic with our vegan leather DUG patch. Our current designs come in burgundy and mustard colorways. One size fits most.

PICKUP ONLY

$30

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Grow Your Own Way Sticker

Show off your PRIDE wherever you grow with this 3″ x 3″ high-quality sticker that features rainbow chard. It’s the perfect add-on to your favorite notebook or colorful water bottle.

PICKUP ONLY

$4.00

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‘Grow Food, Grow Community’ Premium T-Shirt

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

$28.49

Order Now

‘Jungle Judy Fan Club’ Premium T-Shirt

The Premium Unisex Tee is our classic crewneck t-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.

$24.50

ORDER NOW

‘Jungle Judy Fan Club’ Sticker

To know Judy is to love her, and what better way to share that love than with a Jungle Judy Fan Club Sticker? This 3″ x 3″ high-quality sticker is sure to be a conversation starter!

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$4.00

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‘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.

$30.49

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‘Grow Food, Grow Community’ Premium Pullover Hoodie

Our Premium Pullover Hoodie is a soft, well-made hoodie, made of 52% combed and ringspun cotton and 48% polyester.

$50.49

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‘I Dig DUG’ Baby Onesie

Our onesies are 100% combed ringspun cotton, with flatlock stitched seams, double-needle ribbed binding on neck, shoulders, sleeves and leg openings, and a 1×1 baby rib. It has an innovative three-snap closure, CPSIA compliant tracking label in side seam, and Easy Tear™ label to keep your baby cosy while looking garden ready.

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$15.00

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‘Jungle Judy Fan Club’ Crewneck Sweatshirt

The Crewneck Sweatshirt is a classic fit unisex shirt. The sweatshirts are a 50/50 blend of cotton and poly.

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PARTNERSHIP MERCH

ORDER NOW

Birdies 6-in-1 Raised Garden Bed

Birdies 6 in 1 Raised Garden Beds can be assembled into 1 of 6 shapes from the one product. This 6 in 1 modular raised garden bed is ideal for gardens large and small. Birdies Raised Garden Beds use stainless steel fasteners ensuring the integrity of the unit.

Birdies Raised Garden Beds have a rolled steel edge with a durable clip-on safety strip. The raised beds are made from a high-quality Aluzinc steel/powder-coated steel sheeting and this quality ensures durability and longevity under all environmental conditions. Material: Aluzinc steel, Stainless Steel Fasteners, All Weather PVC safety edge.

PICKUP ONLY

$150.00

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
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
November 7, 2020

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…
Faces of DUG
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
May 3, 2021

Getting Dirty with DUG

Certified B Corporations are businesses that meet the highest standards of verified social and environmental performance, public transparency, and legal accountability to balance profit and purpose. The B Corp community…

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

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.