Denver, CO

Denver Urban Gardens food access program sells out; other ways to start growing vegetables

Matt Whittaker

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A raised-bed vegetable garden.normanack/Flickr

By Matt Whittaker / NewsBreak Denver

(Denver, Colo.) Although there's still plenty of snow on the ground, Denver gardeners are gearing up for the start of the growing season.

Denver Urban Gardens (DUG), which operates community gardens in the Denver metro area, this week sold out of 1,500 garden kits that were available in its Grow a Garden program, Brittany Pimentel, equity and food access director with the group, told NewsBreak Denver. 

The program, which opened Feb. 1 this year, is a pay-what-you-can initiative to help families, seniors, and groups get started growing their own vegetables. Kits including seedlings and seed packets will be ready for pickup in mid-May.

Grow a Garden has been a "vital community resource that many residents have come to rely on to grow a garden," Pimentel said. "The Grow a Garden program reduces barriers to growing food by connecting participants with seeds, seedlings, education and support to get growing at home or in a DUG garden."

The 1,500 applicants aren't alone in wanting to grow their own food in 2022, as the pandemic has helped boost interest in gardening around the country. A survey by marketing firm Axiom showed that 54 percent of more than 1,300 respondents planned to create vegetable gardens this year.

Those in the Denver area who didn't get one of the garden kits can join one of DUG's community gardens with open plots, attend a workshop, participate in its spring plant sale, or volunteer to learn more about the group's work and how to get involved.

The Grow a Garden program has been around since 1997. It used to be an income-qualifying program, but in 2020 DUG implemented a sliding pay scale to make it accessible to more people, including seniors who make up 30 percent of participants, with many of them on fixed incomes, she said.

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Matt Whittaker writes about natural resources industries, including oil and gas, mining, renewable energy, agriculture and cannabis. He's been based in the Denver metro area since 2013. You can follow him on Twitter @mattswhittaker.

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