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This Pride Grow Your Own Way with DUG

Written by Mitch Montoya

Where is queerness found in nature? It’s an unexpected question when thinking about Pride month, but one with a common answer: everywhere.

Queerness, often defined as different from or challenging norms, presents in the unique flora and fauna in our world but also in the vibrant expressions of human identity in the LGBTQIA+ community.

It’s in this spirit that Denver Urban Garden’s Pride slogan was born: Grow Your Own Way. Taylor Kibble, Garden Projects Manager, explained that the DUG staff wanted a symbol to celebrate the many LGBTQIA+ people working at DUG and in the garden community. “The queer community in gardening is very welcoming in teaching, showing, and sharing knowledge and resources. An important approach to queerness is that we’re all doing it differently, but we’re all nourished, loved, supported, watered, and fed what we need to be a thriving bunch,” she said. From an impassioned meeting last year and ideas from other DUG staffers, Niko Kirby, Director of Education Strategy and Engagement, designed a logo that honored the community and DUG’s founding pillars: climate, community, and food access.

Grow Your Own Way encourages us to express ourselves and flourish in the world freely. With visual references to the Progress Pride Flag bordering the logo, the image represents solidarity with all members of the LGBTQIA+ community who express their identities in dynamic and transformative ways. It also highlights the diversity found in the gardening community.

In the 200 gardens we have across the city, there are so many different types of people who garden. It makes our organization and community stronger by having all types of representation and all types of people growing food and community

Brit PimentelDirector of Operations at Denver Urban Gardens

At the center of the logo, multiple stalks of vibrant rainbow chard not only give a vegetal nod to the Pride flag, but also stand as a symbol for DUG’s two other pillars, food access and climate. The benefits of community gardening are multifaceted, serving as a place for community connection as well as a green space to expand access to food and support the climate. 

“In the Denver Urban Gardens communities, these are safe spaces for everyone regardless of your socioeconomic or cultural background, whether you’re queer or LGBTQ. Regardless of your identity, everyone is welcome,” Kristi Hatakka, Compost Program Manager at DUG, said. “It’s an equal playing field. We’re all there for the same reasons: to grow healthy food for our families, to meet more people, and to grow the community.”

DUG also wants to inspire inclusivity by making these spaces welcoming for those who don’t garden or haven’t encountered the organization before. “Queer belonging in the garden means feeling safe and free to not only garden in our spaces, but also explore them, go through our food forests, or have a picnic so you can feel a part of the DUG community even if you don’t garden with us,” Osiris Mancera, Bilingual Marketing Manager at DUG explained.

This June and beyond, Grow Your Own Way serves as a dynamic visual and verbal celebration of the intersection between community, nature, and queerness. 

“When we think of queerness in nature it’s prevalent everywhere,” Kristi Hatakka said. “When you think of folks on the border of what fits into boundaries of ‘normal’, those are the survivors, the creators, and what brings out natural beauty and difference. If we really looked at what we see in nature and modeled that in society we would honor, respect, and cherish those that are queer in a different way.”

So join DUG in celebrating Pride by volunteering, supporting the LGBTQIA+ community, and admiring how all of nature grows its own way.