Garden beautifies downtown neighborhood while also producing food for residents

Group transformed parking lot into urban garden

DENVER - How does your garden grow? Since 1985 urban gardens in Denver have been blooming. There are more than 120 of them.

At least one of them is operated by a trio of 7Everyday Heroes. One of those is Eric Purkalitis. He is a regular at Denver's Elati Neighborhood Garden.

"I pretty much stop by every day," said Purkalitis.

It sounds like a lot of work, but this Denver Urban Garden, right in the heart of an historic Elati Street neighborhood, is a dream come true for Eric and two of his friends.

"I think it teaches people where their food comes from, and it is very therapeutic," said volunteer Monty Lambie.

Lambie is another driving force behind this community garden's success.

It is a garden that produces food.

"A lot of our surplus food we put out for people in the neighborhood to take if they need it," said Purkalitis.

And another benefit for the whole area around 8th and Elati: "Less graffiti, there are more people in here now, the gang activity has gone down because there are people always around," said Lambie.

"It is just a place to get away from all the hustle and bustle of the urban environment, reconnect with nature, and reconnect with your neighbors," said volunteer Steve Cook.

A far cry from what this plot of land used to look like. Which brings us to our third 7Everyday Hero: Eric Mandil. He owns the land.

"He could have developed it, made a profit off it down here in the art district, but he said: 'No, I want to give back. You can't just wait for the government to provide public spaces," said Cook.

Mandil's gift of space to develop a garden is much appreciated and well utilized by the surrounding neighborhood.

"I would probably describe it as a gathering place," said Lambie.

"I would definitely call it a gathering place," said Purkalitis.

All thanks to three community minded 7Everyday Heroes, Eric Purkalitis, Monty Lambie, and Eric Mandil.

To learn more about Denver Urban Gardens go to www.dug.org

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