Food, Glorious Food!

By DBG Staff

Many Garden Club of Denver members know about the Denver Botanic Gardens’ Urban Food Initiatives (UFI), a program that for many years, reaches into food desert communities with markets of fresh and affordable vegetables.

What you may not know is that it takes a massive effort to execute. With equal parts hard work and devotion, a team comprised of staff, seasonal employees, volunteers and men and women from the Veterans to Farmers program plant, tend, harvest, clean, transport and display tons of vegetables for neighborhoods where the only other nearby fresh food option is likely a banana in a convenience store.

Along the way, there were many champions who played essential roles. It started with a generous grant from Kaiser Permanente that enabled us to buy equipment and supplies, hire initial staff and prepare the fields for what began as a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program. With a superabundance each year, the idea of reaching into food deserts struck a chord. Now, members of the CSA can pay an extra fee that supports the production of food for distribution in underserved communities. On top of that, multiple individuals and foundations provide critical support.

Interestingly, the idea of food as a way of connecting people with plants is reaching public gardens across the country. In July, Denver was visited by a delegation from the United States Botanic Gardens to explore ways we can grow our program even more while helping to lead a movement nationwide.