Green (Quarter) Acres

The food revolution comes to Denverites' yards.

May 2009

Across the country, gardening is seeing a stunning resurgence. The National Gardening Association is predicting households growing their own veggies will likely increase some 40 percent from two years ago. School gardens are exploding across the country, seeking to teach children about growing healthy and local food. Even the White House, led by first lady Michelle Obama, has gotten into the act, tearing up part of the South Lawn and planting a vegetable garden.

Coloradans, though, are bypassing tiny backyard gardens and launching full-blown urban farms to grow hyper-local food. Heirloom Gardens, an urban community-supported agriculture (CSA) group in Berkeley, was launched in the spring, taking over six neighborhood lawns with plans to feed 15 shareholders. "People are tired of being cut off from where their food grows," says Sundari Kraft, the founder. "They want to get their hands dirty and meet the people growing their food."

Farther north, Boulder Community Roots, a three-year-old urban CSA, now provides fresh produce for 35 shareholders. Meanwhile, the Transition Movement, an international group that educates citizens on local food and sustainable living, has seen a burst of interest, and now runs initiatives in 17 cities and towns across the state.

"We only produce 0.2 percent of the food that we eat in Colorado," says Lisa Rogers, the founder of Feed Denver: Urban Farms and Markets. Rogers and Feed Denver are working on building greenhouses to support aquaculture, a year-round, closed-loop system of vegetable gardening and fish-raising. "We need our food to be closer," Rogers says. "And it's time to start growing our own."