Hi there! For those of you I haven’t met yet, I’m Brittany Pimentel, the Equity & Food Access Director here at Denver Urban Gardens (DUG).
Today I’m sharing a bit about myself, the recent shift in my role, as well as the equity work that’s happening behind the scenes at DUG.
I’m a Peruvian-American who from the age of 12 has worked in a smorgasbord of food-related roles, from restaurants and farm fields to nutrition education and food policy realms. Several years ago, while pursuing a master’s degree in international development with a concentration in food security and humanitarian assistance from the University of Denver, I realized what I really wanted to do was become a farmer.
However, with student loans and lacking resources to land, I decided the next best thing I could do was engage in food systems change at the local level while helping to shift urban agriculture toward food justice and equitable access for all. After volunteering with DUG’s Grow a Garden program for several years, I felt like I scored my dream job when I was hired in 2018 to manage the program.
Last June, the organization made a formal statement in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement that focused on our commitment to developing internal policies and systems to ensure that our team, our volunteer leaders, and our board of directors represent the communities we serve. We also committed to creating and implementing a framework for organizational transformation centering justice, equity, diversity and inclusion, and ensuring that our entire team is trained in anti-racist work.
As a first step towards that commitment, we recognized that we needed someone on staff committed to driving that work, and I feel honored to be able to serve as DUG’s first Director of Equity. In my new role, I’ll continue to lead our metro-wide Grow a Garden program, public gardening classes, and community partnerships. In addition, I’m working to create and implement a framework for organizational transformation and in the coming months, I’ll be using a Racial Equity Scorecard to assess all of our programming on a six-point scale to better understand where we’re starting from and where we need to prioritize efforts.
DUG’s work to cultivate gardeners, grow food and nourish community can only be fully realized once we all have equitable access to resources and opportunities.
As we strive toward becoming a community-led, anti-racist organization, community input is ESSENTIAL to our future. That’s why I’m leading the charge to form a Change Committee, made up of garden leaders, program participants, growers, staff, and board members to help guide what this work will look like in the future.
We’re ready and excited for the work ahead, and plan to check back in with more progress updates. Onward.