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Welcome To Our New Board Members

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We are thrilled to announce three new members to the DUG Board of Directors. Tim Craft, founder of Craft Companies, Jesse Ogas, Executive Director of Social Responsibility and Corporate Engagement at 9News, and Chris Shaffner, Senior Vice President at CoBank have joined the DUG Board for a two-year term beginning July 2022.

Meet Tim Craft

Tim is the founder of Craft Companies, a Denver-based real estate development firm that is transforming the future of home building through responsible, sustainable, and innovative practices that set a higher standard for future development. This is achieved by creating clustered developments, preserving open space and starry skies, incorporating pocket parks, solar lights and energy saving practices.

Recognized for national design excellence, Tim and his team are currently working with five local counties and municipalities to deliver communities that maximize natural resources through responsible land planning, preservation of open space and green technology.

An active partner in the communities where they create neighborhoods, Craft Companies’ hosted the HBA’s 2021 Parade of Homes Industry Night at their conservation-focused Independence Community.

Meet Jesse Ogas

Prior to joining the non-profit sector in 2006, Jesse worked in the retail industry where he worked on Regional teams and as a GM leading several big box stores in Colorado and Utah. After a 17-year career as a GM, he decided to take his knowledge to help the non-profit industry to think about philanthropy differently. Under Ogas’ 9 yr leadership, Firefly Autism has grown to serve families and children with autism across Colorado and is considered one the leading agencies in the field of Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) Therapy nationally and internationally.

Ogas is a proud member of one of the nation’s prominent Latino Theater companies, Su Teatro. He is a community advocate that has served on a variety of nonprofit Boards, including Colorado Aids Project, Tepeyac Community Health Center, Kemp Foundation, Latina Safehouse, Newsed Development Corporation, Adams Camp, Latina Safehouse, and the MSU President’s Cabinet. Currently, he serves on Tepeyac Community Health, Firefly Autism, Newsed, and 365 Health. He is a recipient of the Eric J. Duran Community Service Award, which honors a person of Latino descent who has made a positive impact in the Denver community.

Ogas was the 2021 9NEWS Leader of the Year, which is presented by the Denver Metro Chamber Leadership Foundation. Ogas also recently participated in 9NEWS’ Voices of Change initiative during Hispanic Heritage month. Voices of Change is an ongoing conversation that amplifies voices of community members who are provoking change toward building an equitable, inclusive, and flourishing Colorado.

Today Ogas leads the DEI efforts with 9News as the Executive Director of Social Responsibility and Community Engagement. He just successfully relaunched the 9Listens Community Voices event, is working on the relaunch of 9Who Care, and rebuilding alliances in all the communities in which 9News serves.

Meet Chris Shaffner

Chris is the senior vice president and director of business operations for CoBank, a cooperative bank that provides loans, leases, export financing and other financial services to agribusinesses and rural power, water and communications providers in all 50 states.

Chris responsible for the development and execution of bank-wide strategic initiatives impacting loan and investment portfolios, including legislative and regulatory issues, portfolio growth, and customer initiatives. He also leads CoBank’s $3 billion water infrastructure finance business. In 2020, Chris also served on President Biden’s Infrastructure Policy Committee, co-chairing both water and rural subcommittees.
Prior to joining CoBank in 2015, Chris held various leadership positions in both public and private organizations, including private equity funds management in excess of $1 billion. He also headed borough operations for the New York City Housing Authority, where he led a team of 1,500 responsible for operating Manhattan’s 60,000 public housing units.

Mr. Shaffner earned a bachelor’s degree from Indiana University, a juris doctor degree from Valparaiso University School of Law, and an MBA from the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business. He lives in Denver with his wife and two kids and also serves on the Board of Directors of Colorado Youth for a Change.

As we welcome our new board members, we also say goodbye to three long-standing DUG board members, Diana Denwood, Chloe Mickel, and Ramonna Robinson, who collectively have served DUG for the last 10 years. We are so grateful for the extensive time and effort they have each offered to DUG over the years, and wish them the best in their future endeavors.

Tito’s Block to Block Volunteer Days

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This Fall, volunteers and DUG staff came together to make our Tito’s Block To Block workdays a huge success – and a ton of fun!

Thank you to all of the amazing volunteers who showed up on a weekend to help us construct and fill 36 new plots as part of rebuilding the Cook Park Community Garden

And a huge thank you to our partner for these workdays – Tito’s Handmade Vodka! We are so grateful for their generous support of this project, and dedication to increasing access to fresh organic produce in metro Denver. Read the full Thrillest article on how this Vodka Company is Reviving Community Gardens and Farms All Across America here.

Sad you missed out on all the fun? You don’t have to be! Check out upcoming volunteer opportunities with DUG here.

How Community Involvement Supports Neighborhood Health

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by Brenda Stuart

Your thumb doesn’t need to be any shade of green to get involved in a community garden. It’s a great way for beginners to learn about horticulture from those who have been gardening for years. 

Denver Urban Gardens brings Denver folks together (for more than 35 years now!) to grow local, fresh, organic food. Not only does this benefit our tables, but people in tight-knit communities tend to be healthier.

Physical Health

Gardening may not look physically challenging, but even a moderate workout has benefits. There’s a lot of bending and stretching, reaching, pulling, and squatting involved, and you can burn up to 300 calories in 30-45 minutes of working the soil.

Treat gardening as a workout for the best physical benefits. It’s useful for older and younger adults and kids, all of whom are welcome in community gardens. Of DUG’s 180 gardens, only a few target specific communities. The majority are open to the public

You can expand your “gardening workouts” beyond your own family and invite others in the garden to join in. Gardeners get about 30% more moderate exercise each week than non-gardeners. You may soon have others in the community improving their health, and looking forward to these gardening sessions.

What you eat also impacts your physical health. Community gardens result in neighborhoods with healthier diets. More than 50% of gardeners meet federal guidelines for fruit and vegetable intake compared to 25% of non-gardeners.

Mental Health

Stress is a killer. It causes all parts of your body to decline, from eyes and gums to your heart. Gardening fights off stress by decreasing cortisol in the body (a stress hormone) and restoring your good mood. 

There are several advantages to practicing green-care therapy with the community:

  • Socializing  – Working with companions toward a common goal increases your sense of well-being. It also sharpens your memory and cognitive skills, and it may help you live longer.
  • Sunlight – Exposure to the sun increases the brain’s release of serotonin, a hormone thought to boost mood and help you feel calm and focused.
  • Being Outdoors –  Calming nature sounds (birds, insects) and even outdoor silence help distract your mind from negative thoughts. The visuals of nature have a similar effect.
  • Exposure to Plants – Greenery cleans the air. Plant leaves remove toxins, dust, and microorganisms and freshen the air you breathe.

Spending time outdoors surrounded by natural elements helps you forget the pressures you face in the rest of your life, like deadlines at work or family dilemmas. Community involvement in a garden offers these queting benefits to everyone in the neighborhood.

Overall Neighborhood Impact

How well do you know your neighbors? Community gardening creates a positive atmosphere in which people get to know one another and enjoy their living space. 

Community gardeners nurture relationships with the folks next door, are more involved in civic activities, eat better, and stay longer in their neighborhoods. People who garden together say their communities are cleaner, safer, and more beautiful; all qualities that promote healthier living.

If you’re ready to try your hand, or thumb, at a worthy project, take a look at the gardens in Globeville, Ruby Hill, or any of the other best community gardens around Denver. Most gardens not only feed the neighborhood, they donate produce to food banks and other food charities. You aren’t only helping yourself and your community, you’re providing help to others throughout the city. If you’re ready to dig in, contact us here at Denver Urban Gardens.

Brenda Stuart is a journalist and avid gardener in Denver. She takes a lot of pride in planting tomatoes, lettuce, and broccoli, which she’ll sometimes trade with her neighbors for carrots and peppers.

Gardening can save us.

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written by Linda Appel Lipsius, DUG’s Executive Director 

On the surface to many, gardening might appear to be a lovely, quaint pastime. After all, with grocery stores on (almost) every corner, who needs to grow their own food anymore? 

Even if we have both the financial means and the access (neither of which is true for many Coloradans) to get all of our food, wrapped neatly in non-compostable packaging, grown using derivatives of neurotoxins and explosives, devoid of both flavor and nutrients, at supermarkets–should we? 

No. We shouldn’t. 

Every human should have the resources and skills to grow their own food. In soil. In a garden, on a rooftop, in a container. This simple, elemental act will reap exponential dividends.

Our current industrial food system has many consequences:

  • Dislocation from where our food comes from, resulting in passive, disengaged consumption 
  • Fruits and vegetables that are both nutrient and flavor devoid
  • A food system designed for our food to travel 1,000s of miles from farm to fork, requiring warehouses, coolers, and transport, contributing to greenhouse emissions
  • Harvested produce that loses its nutritional value as it sits for days to weeks before getting eaten
  • Chemical pesticides and fertilizers that are destroying ecosystems and harming farmworkers.
  • Extractive farming that depletes farm the land’s ability to be productive and to heal 

When we activate ourselves and our communities to grow their own food– to re-engage with the miracle that is our earth’s bounty– important lessons and truths reveal themselves:

  • The wonders of nature: how can one tiny little seed produce 50 tomatoes or hundreds of beans or the spiciest of peppers?
  • The critical importance of soil: that if it is healthy, thriving and full of beneficial microorganisms, crops (and the planet) will thrive
  • The importance of biodiversity, pollinators and beneficial pests
  • The mental and physical health benefits that come from digging in the soil (After a year + of the pandemic, I know I’ve learned that getting dirty on my knees with a fistful of dirt is the ultimate antidote to a day spent staring at a screen)
  • The reconnection to our resources: when we grow our own food, we’re less inclined to waste it

Please learn more. Take action. Become an intentional eater and grow something you like to eat. See what an organically grown tomato or cucumber from your backyard can taste like. Today. Plant a seed in a pot, a garden, or a park. And start demanding that our industrial food system delivers food with the same integrity as what you grow in your backyard – or on your roof or in your containers – by supporting producers with integrity.

 

Through Denver Urban Gardens, gardening communities grow more than 600,000lb of food each year across 188 community gardens, all consumed on a neighborhood level, using organic & regenerate practices. We teach people to garden and provide the space and community support to succeed. Imagine how much hyper-locally produced, highly nutritious food we could be enjoying if we all started growing our own… 

DUG is seeking a Marketing + Communications Intern

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Denver Urban Gardens (DUG) was established in 1985 to support Denver residents in creating sustainable, food-producing neighborhood community gardens. In the past 35+ years, our network of community gardens has grown across six metro Denver counties, and our reach has extended to offering youth education and community training programs, as well as providing access to seeds, seedlings, and resources to build community resilience by growing local, fresh, organic food.

We currently operate more than 180 community gardens throughout Metro Denver, including more than 70 school-based community gardens. In addition to building and supporting community gardens, we operate DeLaney Community Farm, the Master Composter Training Program, the Master Community Gardener Training Program, Grow a Garden, and provide extensive opportunities for youth education in nutrition and gardening.

Position: Marketing and Communications Intern 

DUG is looking for someone passionate about urban gardening to join the team and assist marketing and communications efforts. This position is an excellent opportunity to learn, practice, and grow your skills across various areas within non-profit marketing and communications.

In this role, you can expect to: 

  • support in creating new content and maintaining DUG’s social media presence
  • assist in planning, writing and managing programmatic and fundraising communications in Mailchimp
  • draft and publish news releases, media alerts, and other stories for our blog 
  • assist with the design of flyers, graphics, and other marketing material
  • update and edit content on DUG website (using WordPress)
  • film, edit and publish short educational videos with support of our Education team

We’re looking for someone with:

  • a strong understanding of DUG’s mission and a passion for our work 
  • experience with social media management (personal or organizational)  
  • good attention to detail and an understanding of effective writing practices
  • the ability to communicate in a professional manner with our team and community members 
  • a drive to learn and an interest in learning new things   
  • good organizational skills and the ability to prioritize, multi-task and meet deadlines 

Position open until filled, requires 3 – 6 month commitment. Hours: 8 – 12 hours/week, remote. 

Compensation: This is an Unpaid/Volunteer internship. 

To Apply: Please send your resume and a personal introduction that explains why you’d like to intern at DUG to Niko Kirby, Director of Marketing and Communications, at communications@dug.org

Denver Urban Gardens is an Equal Opportunity Employer and does not discriminate on the basis of sex, race, age, national origin, ethnic, background, disability or any other characteristic protected by law.

IT Volunteer Needed

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Denver Urban Gardens is seeking either a short-term or long-term volunteer to support our IT needs.

We are looking for someone who has skills and experience with 

  • setting up and maintaining Apple computers and devices running iOS
  • cleaning and migrating data from old computers to a server
  • installing and updating new software
  • connecting interfaces (dual monitors, docking stations, etc.)

We are seeking someone immediately and can accommodate flexible hours. 

Interested individuals must be comfortable working from our DUG office (while wearing a mask). To learn more or apply for this position, please contact Laura at  laura@dug.org

 

Learn to Compost Registration

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Please submit a separate registration for each attendee. To ensure this opportunity is available to as many people as possible, please only register if you are positive you are able to attend. Happy composting!

Quick Pickled Green Beans

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Servings: 6

Ingredients
1/2 pound  whole green beans
1/2 red bell pepper, cut into strips
1 jalapeño or other hot pepper, cut into strips
1 large clove garlic, cut in half
1 bay leaf
1 cup white  vinegar
1 cup water
1/2 cup apple juice
1 Tbsp sugar
1 Tbsp salt
1 Tbsp whole coriander seeds
1 Tbsp mustard seeds
1 Tbsp whole peppercorns
Dried herb substitutions
2 tsp coriander
2 tsp powder mustard
2 tsp black pepper

Preparation
Wash green beans; remove stem ends. Place in glass dish just large enough to hold green beans and 2 1/2 cups liquid. Add bell pepper strips, jalapeño, garlic and bay leaf with beans.
Place remaining ingredients in medium saucepan. Heat to a boil; stir to dissolve sugar and salt. Reduce heat; simmer 5 minutes. Pour mixture over green beans, making sure beans are fully submerged in liquid. If not, add additional hot water to cover.
Cover; refrigerate 12 – 24 hours. Remove and discard bay leaf before serving. Flavor improves in 48 hours and beans may be kept refrigerated for up to five days. Remove vegetables from liquid before serving.

Source
Easy Home Cooking Magazine
Adapted by Meg Paccione

For information on safe food preservation techniques see Colorado State University Extension website.