The National Recreation and Parks Association also has published
a document to help those interested in developing community
gardens. It lays out the do’s and don’ts and provides a suggested
timeline that is required to help secure community buy-in to
the initiative to ensure its success.
But some towns and cities already have entities that help people
interested in community and urban gardens.
At 35 years old, Denver Urban Gardens (DUG) is slightly
older than a millennial. The not-for-profit organization
has more than 150 community gardens under its umbrella,
most of which are open to the public. And demand for more
gardens continues to increase, said DUG Director of Development and Communications, Rebecca Andruska. She said
there has been a real push among the public schools to include
gardens on school grounds.
DUG gardens are located at schools, municipal buildings,
churches, workforce housing, parks and in neighborhoods.
Denver Urban Gardens generally owns the land the gardens
are located on and with the exception of a handful of privately
held plots, the majority of its gardens are open to all comers.
Residents interested in joining a garden can call or email DUG
with their contact information as well as the name of the garden they want to grow in. Garden leaders annually review
their plots in the offseason and contact people when there are
availabilities. Costs for the community garden range between
$25 and $75 each season.
Most of the rules for each community garden are set by the
local garden leader. The association did, though, have to pass a
no marijuana policy in the wake of Colorado Amendment 64
— which makes it legal for those aged 21 and older to grow up
to six marijuana plants and legally possess the cannabis from
the plants they grow.
“We are about producing food, not the munchies,” said Andruska.
Since 2004, Denver Urban Gardens and the Colorado School
of Public Health have worked together, through the “Gardens
for Growing Healthy Communities” community-based research
initiative, to explore how gardens, as neighborhood places, support healthy living.
The research shows that:
• More than 50 percent of community gardeners meet national
guidelines for fruit and vegetable intake, compared to 25 percent of non-gardeners;
• Ninety-five percent of gardeners give away some of the pro-
duce they grow to friends and family; and
• Sixty percent of farmers donate what they grow to food
Photos courtesy of Denver Urban Gardens
Courtesy of Bread for the City