DENVER — Spend just a few minutes with the volunteers of Grow Local Colorado and you'll quickly discover there's no shortage of laughter. It's just part of what grows in their community gardens.
"We started out with one garden at Civic Center Park 12 years ago and now we’re at 17 sites," said Grow Local Colorado Founder Barbara Masoner.
Masoner founded Grow Local Colorado 12 years ago. Together, she and co-director Linda Kiker have a hunger for building and maintaining urban gardens.
"Everything that we harvest goes to a food pantry and partnering shelters and food kitchens," Kiker said.
According to Hunger Free Colorado, 33% of Coloradans lack reliable access to nutritious food. So, when Barb and Linda agreed to help create a garden for Community Ministries of Southwest Denver, the food pantry knew the fresh veggies from the garden would fill an enormous gap.
"Any money they can save on their grocery bill is super helpful because then they can pay part of their rent or utilities or something like that. So the fresh produce is like a bonus," said Community Ministries of Southwest Denver Executive Director Joyce Neufeld.
"The fact that this is picked today and is going to be given to families today and tomorrow — you can’t get higher nutritive value, you can’t get better taste. It’s just a win-win," Masoner said.
That win-win is no small potatoes. Their newest garden yielded about 250 pounds of food this year. Add that to what Grow Local's 16 other gardens produced, as well as donations from neighborhood fruit trees, and these two "sheroes" harvested nearly 15,000 pounds of food for their neighbors in need.
"It takes more than one person but it takes one or two people to galvanize the group," said volunteer Steffanie Grogan. "You gotta have the leadership and you have to be inspired by that leadership and both of them — they are two of the most inspiring women I know."
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