Urban Garden

The Urban Garden Project is a visionary initiative by Denver Urban Gardens (DUG) that’s set to revolutionize the way we connect, cultivate, and nourish our communities.

We invite you to join us in creating a flourishing network of community gardens across the nation –
a movement that goes beyond just growing food, and focuses on nurturing relationships, empowering individuals, and healing the planet.

We believe that everyone deserves access to fresh, healthy food, vibrant communities, and a sustainable future.

Community gardens are more than just plots of land – they’re spaces for empowerment, learning, and transformation. Our mission is to expand the community garden movement to every urban neighborhood, fostering a culture of self-sufficiency, connection, and positive environmental impact.

The first community gardens emerged in the United States as a response to urbanization and industrialization. These gardens provided green spaces where people could grow their own food and connect with nature.
Community gardens played a vital role in helping families facing economic hardships during the Great Depression. These gardens provided a source of affordable and nutritious food, fostering self-reliance and community resilience.
During World War II, community gardens gained significant traction as part of the war effort. The “war gardens” or “victory gardens” encouraged citizens to grow their own food to support the troops and ensure food security. Victory gardens made a comeback during World War II. They were seen as a patriotic duty and a way to supplement rationed food supplies, alleviating pressure on the national food system.
After World War II, community gardens experienced a decline as the focus shifted towards suburban development and the rise of industrial agriculture. However, some grassroots efforts continued, and the community garden movement regained momentum in the 1970s, driven by concerns about food security, environmentalism, and community building. Urban gardening initiatives sprouted in response to urban decay and the desire for neighborhood revitalization.
Denver Urban Gardens was founded as a grassroots movement when gardeners came together to transform a vacant parking lot for a group of local Hmong women to grow their own food; over the following years, more community gardens began to spring up as the group helped other neighbors do the same. DUG was formally incorporated as a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization in 1985.
Community gardens have increasingly become recognized as valuable assets for urban communities, addressing issues such as food deserts, social inequality, and public health. Local governments, nonprofits, and grassroots organizations have played pivotal roles in supporting and expanding these gardens. More and more, community gardens are being recognized for what they are–critical infrastructure for thriving cities.

Community gardens have a rich history of fostering positive change.

Originating in the 1970s, they’ve grown to become vital community spaces where people of all backgrounds come together to grow food, share stories, and cultivate belonging. Unlike traditional farms, community gardens empower individuals to actively participate in food production, reconnect with nature, and build relationships. These gardens are an antidote to food deserts, a remedy for social isolation, and a catalyst for sustainable urban living.

The Urban Garden Project

At its core, The Urban Garden Project is about simplicity, sustainability, and synergy.
By creating and supporting community gardens across the nation, we aim to:

Strengthen Communities

Gardens bring neighbors together, fostering a sense of belonging and shared purpose.

Promote Self-Sufficiency

Through gardening, individuals regain agency over their food supply and well-being.

Combat Climate Change

Gardens contribute to carbon sequestration, healthy soil, and reduced water consumption.

Increase Food Access

The produce grown in these gardens provides fresh, locally sourced food to those who need it most.

What We’re Building:

The heart of The Urban Garden Project is our comprehensive playbook. This invaluable resource covers all aspects of establishing and nurturing community gardens, including:

  • Back Office Management: Leveraging Salesforce for seamless garden administration.
  • Garden Creation: Steps to initiate and maintain a thriving community garden.
  • Leadership Guide: Empowering garden leaders with the tools they need.
  • Food Access Strategies: Making fresh produce accessible to all.
  • Land Use Agreements: Models for sustainable land usage.
  • Therapeutic Gardens: Connecting mental health and well-being to gardening.
  • Inclusion and Belonging: Creating diverse and welcoming spaces.
  • Fundraising Essentials: Tips for sustainable financial support.

The Impact:

DUG’s efforts in the Denver area have already transformed neighborhoods, fostering community, providing access to fresh organic produce, and sequestering carbon. By extending our approach across the nation, we project significant impacts:

  • An annual production of millions of pounds of fresh, organic vegetables.
  • Greening of hundreds of acres of land.
  • Supporting tens of thousands of gardeners in cultivating their own food.
  • Fostering connections and reducing isolation in communities.
  • Enhancing food access for local residents.


The Urban Garden Project is bringing the movement together through quarterly thought partnership calls and the annual American Community Gardening Association (ACGA) conference.

  • If you’d like to join the quarterly calls, contact DUG’s Executive Director, Linda Appel Lipsius.

  • Plan to attend 2023 ACGA which will be held in Houston from September 27-30, 2023.