Denver Urban Gardens Growing In Interest

Waiting List Grows For People Wanting To Grow Own Food

Behind the din of recess at the Rocky Mountain School of Expeditionary Learning, Arzella Dirkson works on her little piece of sanctuary.

Armed with a spade and a shovel, the silver-haired Dirkson decides on how best to plant her garden plot at the Community Garden at Cook Park.

"I've got some peas growing over there," she said. "Beets and carrots and lots of things."

Dirkson is not alone. Interest in community gardens is growing at an unprecedented rate. Denver Urban Gardens can't keep up with the demand, and there is a waiting list at many of its community gardens.

"We used to build about three or four community gardens a year," said Abbie Harris of Denver Urban Gardens. "Interest has grown so much that we’re now building in 2011 over 20 community gardens."

Urban Gardens Provide Cheap Greens

Harris said there are two reasons why interest has piqued. One is people are discovering it is cheaper to grow a garden than to keep paying the escalating prices for fruits and vegetables at the grocery store.

Denver Urban Gardens has low garden plot fees and in many cases waives them. The nonprofit organization also sponsors a free seeds and transplants program.

"If you take advantage of all of our resources, it can be a very low cost or free gardening experience," Harris said. "We want to make gardening easy and accessible to as many people as possible."

People Gardening For Healthier Lifestyle

The other reason for the interest, Harris said, is people want to eat healthier.

"In the past couple of years, people are really conscious about where their food is coming from," she said. "They want to eat healthier and want to know where their food is coming from."

To get started, all a person needs to do is visit Denver Urban Garden's web site and select a garden near their home.

Then once a match is made, a garden leader will show interested gardeners where their plot is and where the tools are.

The only commitment Denver Urban Gardens has is that gardeners keep up their gardening spot with weeding, watering and harvesting.

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